Photo Prem is a lovely and different concept. It’s about a woman who realises that she doesn’t have a single photo that her family could use for a photo frame after her death. Being not just camera shy but literally photo phobic, the challenge is to face the camera. Whether she manages to get a good picture of herself for a photo frame to hang on the wall after her death is what the film is all about.
While some films weave together different stories to make it a tale to tell, other films just pick one event or thought and make an entire feature film on it. Photo Prem falls in the second category. The subject revolves around just one thought that the protagonist has. It is hence a slow moving film. If you take a close look at Mai’s character, you will notice that her life is slow-moving. If the film speeds up, it would lose its character. But still, as an audience you might not like the pace only because at times, it fails to keep you engaged. Having said that, this is not applicable to everyone. People of a certain age would enjoy this film. They would not just find humour in it but also relate to the film.
What makes this film worth a watch? It’s Neena Kulkarni and her realistic portrayal of Mai. In Rang Pandhari, she has mentioned that to get the character and her body language right for a play, she had started to sweep the floor at home which she had never done before as she comes from a well to do family. That also means that she has always been a working woman and not a house-wife or a woman who does all the household chores alone. Why am I mentioning this? Because Mai was a house-wife with low self-esteem. She is someone who is always conscious around people. That tells us why she is afraid to face the camera. Mai doesn’t speak much, not even to her husband, but writes essays of dialogues in her head. Her body language is also of a woman who is always, to a certain extent, scared or conscious that she might say or do something wrong, as she doesn’t have enough knowledge of the world. Now you see the difference here?
Neena Kulkarni, always a working woman vs Mai, always a homebody. These two are opposite personalities. But when you watch the movie, you see Mai in Neena Kulkarni. The way she has developed her character just with the help of body language, it’s excellent. Such simple characters are most difficult to bring to life on screen.
As you watch Neena Kulkarni become Mai, you just sit back and watch her unlayer the character while you keep falling in love with Mai.
Acting is an art that today’s so-called superstars need to learn from such veteran actors.
If you love subtle yet excellent performances, watch Photo Prem for Neena Kulkarni.
Streaming On: Prime Video