The Disciple review round-up: ‘You don’t have to be familiar with Hindustani music to appreciate Tamhane’s heartfelt drama’

screenmixApril 30, 2021

After travelling to various international film festivals, Chaitanya Tamhane’s The Disciple is now streaming on Netflix. The movie received rave reviews from international critics when it first premiered at Venice International Film Festival. The Marathi film then screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and charmed the audience. The film won big at both the festivals and has now released on a global platform.

Produced by Vivek Gomber, The Disciple follows Sharad who has dedicated his life to master Indian classical music. The film examines the ‘guru-shishya parampara’ and how it can affect one’s life to the point where it can become the central anchor.

Here is what international critics are saying about The Disciple:

The Hollywood Reporter’s Deborah Young wrote in his review, “It’s the universal story of a youth who aims for the stars and finds himself with his feet tied to earth — and maybe that’s not a bad thing. With one eye out to winning competitions, the singer-in-training, Sharad (Modak), easily fits into the narrative mold of movies like Whiplash and A Star Is Born as he studies under a fierce disciplinarian and sacrifices his private life to perfect his art.”

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Variety’s Jay Weissberg noted, “For all its specificity, grounded in Khayal music, the film’s universality lies in the way it conveys the inner struggles of a musician aware he or she may never be good enough, just like an artist, dancer or writer plagued by fears of mediocrity.”

Indiewire’s Eric Kohn opined, “Tamhane does such a fine job of bringing individual encounters to vivid life that it’s unfortunate when the movie breaks that spell through flashbacks. At the same time, the movie excels at tracking the way Sharad keeps reevaluating his experiences, questioning his convictions about his talent even if he can’t find the words to explain it.”

The Guardian’s Xan Brooks wrote in his review, “You don’t have to be familiar with the intricacies of Hindustani music to appreciate Tamhane’s heartfelt, melancholy drama although I’d hazard a guess that it helps. That’s because its protagonist, Sharad Nerulkar (Aditya Modak), is steeped in its traditions, living and breathing its phrasing, picking his way through an apprenticeship that’s been known to last a lifetime.”

Collider’s Siddhant Adlakha noted, “The film’s very fabric feels mystical and metaphysical. Its music reverberates, as if off the walls of a holy site. Watching it feels like floating in some unseen, unspoken realm each time Sharad takes a step forward in his search (though we’re soon yanked back to reality with each step back). The plot no doubt facilitates this oscillation, veering between brief moments of musical transcendence, and Sharad’s insecurity about his place in a changing world.”