Devrai (English: Scared Grove) is a 2004 Indian Marathi film directed by filmmaker duo Sumitra Bhave–Sunil Sukthankar and produced by Schizophrenia Awareness Association and K. S. Wani Memorial Trust. The film stars Atul Kulkarni, Sonali Kulkarni, Devika Daftardar, Tushar Dalvi, and Mohan Agashe and was released on 11 March 2004. The film's music is by Shrirang Umarani. It depicts a story of a man who suffers from Schizophrenia and is struggling to come to terms with his illness and the frustration of his helpless sister.
The film received critical acclaim for the portrayal of Schizophrenia and performances of its leads and won several awards upon its release including four awards: the Best Film, the Best Director, the Best Actor, and the Best Actress award at the 11st Screen Awards Marathi, the Technical Excellence Award at the International Film Festival of Kerala and was awarded the Best Film on Environment Conservation / Preservation at the 52nd National Film Awards. Atul Kulkarni was awarded with the Special Jury Award at the Mumbai International Film Festival and Sonali Kulkarni bagged the Best Actress Award at the 42nd Maharashtra State Film Awards.
As a child, Shesh Desai (Atul Kulkarni) grew up with this mother (Jyoti Subhash), sister Seena (Sonali Kulkarni), and cousin Kalyani (Devika Daftardar). He becomes attracted to Kalyani but his mother forces her to leave the village. This upsets Shesh who then fails to graduate from college and is asked to look after the family's mango orchard. He gradually becomes a loner and eccentric after his mother's death and sister's marriage.
Shesh creates an imaginary world centered on his devotion to "devrai", a sacred grove, near his village. He also develops a paranoid concern that the villagers intend to destroy devrai. He becomes attracted to Parvati (Amruta Subhash), the wife of a family servant, and fantasises her as a goddess who is an inhabitant of the grove.
Seena invites Shesh to her house to celebrate her husband, Sudish's (Tushar Dalvi) promotion. At the celebration, Shesh gets a panic attack while socialising with guests and becomes furious. Seena tries to offer support to Shesh but Sudish becomes upset and throws Shesh out. She admits Shesh to a psychiatric facility where he receives treatment by a senior psychiatrist (Mohan Agashe). This treatment suppresses his erratic behavior but does not eradicate his imaginary world. Shesh returns to the village where he meets Kalyani, who was recently divorced, and she decides to take care of him.Atul Kulkarni as Shesh Desai
Sonali Kulkarni as Seena Gore
Jyoti Subhash as Shesh and Seena's mother
Devika Daftardar as Kalyani
Tushar Dalvi as Sudish, Seena's husband
Mohan Agashe as Psychologist
Amruta Subhash as Parvati
Ashwin Chitale as Seena's son
The film is a joint venture of Schizophrenia Awareness Association (SAA) and K. S. Vani Memorial Trust. Director Sukthankar said that they held discussions with psychiatrists and attended SAA's self-help groups to observe the afflicted patients. The film's shoot was completed in four months and was shot in and around Pune and in the Konkan region. Director-Writer Bhave said that through Devrai, they tried "to dispel the myths and put schizophrenia in a scientific perspective". The film does not use any background music. While shooting, actor Atul Kulkarni wrote a poem. The filmmaker duo was so impressed with it that they included the poem in the film. The film was released on 11 March 2004.
Reception and awards
The film was appreciated for its depiction of Schizophrenia, performances of its leads, and won several awards upon its release. Psychiatrists Vinay Kumar of Indian Psychiatry Association said that "[it] is a thought provoking film on the subject". Critic Bhawana Somaaya mentions in her book "Fragmented Frames: Reflections of a Critic" (2008) that "Devrai is an insightful journey into the broken structure of a once beautiful mind, today inhabited by delusions and sounds that torment him." The film was screened at 63rd Annual National Conference of the Indian Psychiatric Society. Rediff review mentions that "it is tough to depict mental problems seriously in films. Most films that deal with the subject tend to watch from a distance. But Devrai takes you inside the mind of sufferer".
The film was awarded the Best Film on Environment Conservation / Preservation at the 52nd National Film Awards. The citation states that "in this chaotic world, when every body talks about the importance of environment, conservation and preservation but no body cares to learn from the wisdom of myth created by our forefathers and create a space for every mind to realise its potential without judging, discriminating or condemning." It also won four awards: the Best Film, the Best Director, the Best Actor, and the Best Actress award at the 11st Screen Awards Marathi. The film was awarded the Technical Excellence Award at the International Film Festival of Kerala. Atul Kulkarni won the Special Jury Award at the Mumbai International Film Festival for his performance. Sonali Kulkarni bagged the Best Actress Award and the film won the Award for Best Film with Social Message at the 42nd Maharashtra State Film Awards. The film was presented at the India International Disability Film Festival at Anand theatre in Chennai on 7 July 2005 and the appreciated for portraying "the struggle of a person caught between his two worlds" and "the situation of his family too that tries hard to help him" and the filmmaker duo Bhave–Sukthankar were lauded for "presenting the experiences of a schizophrenic as honestly as possible."