FIPRESCI winner The Disciple movie review: A soul probingly artful quest

The Disciple movie review

What: Chaitanya Tamhane is the master in the making.

The Disciple movie synopsis

Sharad Nerulkar (Aditya Modak) has devoted his life to becoming an Indian classical music vocalist, diligently following the traditions and discipline of his Guruji (Arun Dravid) and Maai (Sumitra Bhave). Years go by but Sharad stills struggles to understand the difference between fame and excellence.

The Disciple movie review

Hindustani classical vocalist Sharad Nerulkar (Aditya Modak) is dedicated, determined, loyal, devoted talented but lured by illusions of fame, & perfection.

The disciple of a veteran (Arun Dravid) Guruji of a fading north Indian gharana in Mumbai. Guruji is not allured by great concerts, Guriji is a master who has adopted a simple lifestyle and survives by recitals in small public and/or private gatherings.
Sharad Nerulkar has inherited the legacy of Alwar gharana from his father played by Kiran Yadnyopavit. Alwar gharana known for Khayal, Thumri and dhrupad singing. History says that classical music artiste from these North Indian and Rajasthani gharanas migrated to Mumbai and other places. Maharashtra became a safe place for them.    

Sharad Nerulkar’s script doesn’t traces the history at places says silent but its true, honest and pious to its subject matter.

Guruji from the Alwar Gharana in Mumbai, Sharad’s father’s ambition for carrying the Alwar legacy forward, the mention of Khayal and the purity of soul in achieving excellence in Maai’s recordings speaks in volumes about Sharad Nerulkar’s study about the subject of the movie.

A melancholic coming of age where we first meet Sharad when he is a young guy 24-year-old guy. Staying her relative place, not ready to do any job until he finds that perfection. Does some odd recording jobs of converting work of not well known but genius classical artiste recordings into CD’s.

Takes part in small classical music concerts and at late night drives through the streets of Mumbai, listening to the recorded lectures of Maai (voice of known Marathi director late Sumitra Bhave) – an iconic singer whose song recordings are not available but there are recorded lectures on attaining that purity in your art.

Maai says she sang for her Guru and God. Music demands fakiri (minimalist) lifestyle and a state of asceticism (sanyasi).

More the purity, more the mastery, twined with the adage of practice makes a man perfect.

But Sharad is allured by common human distractions and desires. Sharad seeks to attain mastery early and he is also running for fame. The demands of survival in a busy crazy city like Mumbai makes it more difficult for Sharad.

Sharad in spite his selfless devotion towards his Guruji especially during Guruji’s ailing health fails to better his art.

The reason behind is his austerity towards his art is distracted by common and simple distractions like fame, lust etc.

Chaitanya Tamhane’s artful narration has its defining moments. Sharad’s late-night journey on Mumbai streets is shown in slow motion purposely to allow the audience get into the mindset of Sharad.

The contrast between reality and fake is told brilliantly with the transformation of the girl on reality tv show where she begins with a bandish, rises to fame and later during the last stage ends up performing an easy glamourous number form a Bollywood movie on a loud set.

She got the fame but lost her art. Sharad is at least giving what he has learned from Guruji to the coming generations as we see Sharad of today with a moustache and a bit belly weight. But he is still allured by illusions.


Aditya Modak as Sharad Nerulkar is pure brilliance. Arun Dravid as Guruji is class apart.


Michal Sobocinski’s outstanding camerawork depicts all the emotions and turmoil the protagonist is going through.

Aneesh Pradhan’s music is an integral part of the movie throughout.

Any memorable dialogue/scene

The climax. The best I have seen in recent years.

Scene that should have been deleted at once



The scene with the music critic seems like an afterthought.

Final words

FIPRESCI winner The Disciple is a soul probingly artful quest of an artiste. Here the journey is more important than the destination. The Disciple is also a testimony that Chaitanya Tamhane is a master in the making. Court, The Disciple now what is next.


Rating : 4/5

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About Filmi Ilmi

Filmi Ilmi

A a vagabond, seeker, explorer, writer, movie critic, doesn't believe in destination just enjoys the journey post on FB/cineblues/ More By Filmi Ilmi

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