What is love, without understanding?
Written and directed by India-based filmmaker Kaarthikeyan Kirubhakaran, His Father's Voice is a strong feature directing debut for the sure to be up-and-coming director. The film kicks off with the American family of Jon (Jeremy Roske), Clara (Julia Koch), and their son Kris (Christopher Gurusamy) living alongside Parvathi (Ashwini Pratap Pawar), Nagarajan (Narendran Pangathody), and their daughter, Valli (Sudharma Vaithiyanathan), inside a music and dance school in Tamilnadu, India. Jon is a gifted musician deeply inspired by the world of Indian classical music, while the two youths become inseparable as they immerse themselves in the world around them while learning from nature and their own parents. Eventually, Clara begins to grow wary of Parvathi's growing influence in the lives of her husband and son and leaves the school with Kris.
Years later, Kris returns as a young dancer desperate to reunite with his father and heal his deep woundedness. His childhood companion, Valli, has become a beautiful and gifted dancer and despite his deep resentment against her parents he begins to discover healing and the ability to forgive.
Far from a groundbreaking film, His Father's Voice is nonetheless an entertaining and meaningful motion picture beautifully constructed by Kirubhakaran and with sumptuous, pristine lensing and lovely original music by Vedanth Bharadwaj. A romantic musical drama, His Father's Voice comes alive most vividly within its music as the music gives the film a quiet fluidity that allows it to sort of linger within your heart and mind.
At its essence, His Father's Voice is about a young man's journey of life breaking out of the cocoon that will allow him to fly yet the inevitable necessity to return as we learn life lessons about love, forgiveness, and the irrevocable bonds that we carry with us throughout our lives.
Kirubhakaran beautifully captures the richness of Indian culture and the importance of a father's love, an importance not often portrayed so beautifully on film. Gentle, guiding lessons on a dance form known as Bharatanatyam are mesmerizing to watch, while a partial performance of the epic Ramayana is exquisite. The richness and complexities of Indian culture, including romance, are vividly included here and while they may seem foreign to American audiences they are portrayed here with deepest respect and dignity.
The film's ensemble cast is uniformly strong, while His Father's Voice also nicely honors the traditions and almost chaste-like relationships that could feel quaint but instead are portrayed with honor within this culture.
His Father's Voice is a complex film and, at times, it attempts to accomplish a little too much. It's the kind of film that demands a second viewing so you can fully appreciate its imagery, messaging, and multi-layered representation of cultural norms, values, and traditions. Released in L.A. this past week, His Father's Voice is being released by indie distributor Indie Rights and is getting ready to roll out via digital/VOD channels. For more information, visit the film's Facebook page linked to in the credits.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic