Verdict: Tillotama Shome and Adil Hussain give applaud-worthy performances.

Goutam Ghose’s Raahgir or The Wayfarers made its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival in 2019, thereafter being screened at the 21st Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star. With a cast comprising Tillotama ShomeAdil Hussain, and Neeraj Kabi, it’s not hard to see why this film would be a festival-favorite. The entire film is set in rural Jharkhand and takes place in the span of a few days filled with rain and despair. The lead pair have embodied a rural persona combined with a rustic accent that fits their roles perfectly while giving the audience a look into the lives of daily wage laborers in India.

What’s Raahgir About:

Nathuni (Tillotama Shome) is the sole bread-winner of a family of four ever since her husband (Omkar Das Manikpuri) damaged his spine in an accident which rendered his lower body useless. Selling firewood is not enough to bring food into the household, so she decides to visit the nearby town in search of some daily wage work. On her way, she meets Lakhua (Adil Hussain), who is also traveling to town for work. As the duo walks together, they share their highs and lows and strike up a friendship. An accident involving Chopat Lal (Neeraj Kabi) deters them as they must make the choice of whether they should help a fellow man in need while going hungry yet again or continue on the path they set out to accomplish.

What Works:

Set in rural India against the backdrop of torrential rain, Raahgir appears aesthetic to the common eye. But what appeals to our visual senses takes a backseat when the plight of the film’s lead characters comes into play. Nathuni and Lakhua must get to town as soon as possible – a journey that takes them almost two days on foot – lest they go hungry yet another night. They don’t have much to live for except the knowledge that survival is a must. Where Nathuni is practical, Lakhua is more whimsical. Together, their camaraderie seems natural and the actors effortlessly balance each other out well. Neither of their roles is glamorous but Adil Hussain puts up a great show as an ex-dancer. Tillotama Shome downplays her character, which brings out the most impact. Her uncompromising persona hits you hard and you personally feel her grief. Neeraj Kabi has a small part to play in the film but makes quite an impression that lasts even after his character is gone.

What Could’ve Been Better:

Even at one hour and 25 minutes, the movie might seem a tad long as there’s not much happening on the way before Chopat Lal comes into the picture. Some events might also seem random and do not contribute much to the story, other than giving the audience a look into what is normal life for some people.

Why You Should Watch:

Even in their de-glam avatars, Tillotama Shome and Adil Hussain give applaud-worthy performances in this hard, uncompromising and long-winding drama. Raahgir is not an easy watch but an essential one that brings out the best from its cast of talented actors.