Seema Pahwa’s ‘The Funeral’: A Poignant Drama at IFFK 2019

What is worse than death? Is it that the living must bear the consequences the dead cannot? This is the question Seema Pahwa seeks to answer in her directorial debut ‘The Funeral’, which will be screened in the ‘Indian Cinema Now’ category at the 24th International Film Festival of Kerala. She draws from her own experiences and observations, particularly memories of the death of her own father and the behaviour of relatives during his funeral rites. The plot follows a family mourning the death of the patriarch Ram Prasad Bhargava. For the next 13 days of traditional mourning (tehrvi), the family is forced to confront a host of internal politics, drama and the legacy of debt left behind by Ram Bhargav. It is essentially a slice-of-life movie that explores the uglier side of human relationships, a particularly taboo topic in an Indian society which idolizes blood ties.
Featuring a brilliant ensemble that includes the likes of Naseeruddin Shah, Supriya Pathak, Konkona Sen Sharma, Vikrant Massey and Manoj Pahwa, ‘The Funeral’  premiered at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival to a standing ovation. The film is both humorous and hard-hitting, without being melodramatic.
Seema Pahwa is no stranger to the film industry. She is a prolific actress in theatre, television and film. Pahwa rose to fame by playing ‘Badki’ in the Doordarshan soap opera “Hum Log”. At the 63rd Filmfare awards, she was nominated for two films in the Best Supporting Actress category (Bareilly Ki Barfi and Shubh Mangal Saavdhan).
As many as 27 women-directed movies will be showcased this year at the IFFK including six from India.