For all the fascinating insight the film provides into a musical subculture passing slowly into the archives of history, its melancholy is more universal: Anyone who’s ever devoted themselves fully to a passion, only to discover that the rest of the world barely gives a shit, will smile sadly with recognition.
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What are critics saying?
The Playlist by Christian Gallichio
Although Tamhane’s sedate pacing might put off those expecting a more visceral dive into the culture of Hindustani music, The Disciple is profound in its microcosmic world-building, slowly creating Sharad’s life through individually realized moments, adding up to an extraordinary portrait of a failed artist.
The Hollywood Reporter by Deborah Young
The film has its own fascination that rises above the type of music being played and sung.
Chaitanya Tamhane gives full dimension to the rich, complex, and sometimes contradictory nature of the relationship between disciple and guru.
In Tamhane’s dreamy, transcendent character study, the undulating raga melodies serve as a transformative portal to self-discovery that places the audiences in the confines of its entrancing power.
Tamhane patiently constructs his characters out of small details, relying on his audience to pick up on small changes and muted shifts of tone that signal the passage of time and Sharad’s interior journey.
The Disciple is a great example of when filmmaking and acting styles complement each other, and it’s that bond that feels to be a significant part of what makes Tamhane’s film so special, so resonant.
The Film Stage by Rory O'Connor
It is not a flawless achievement, but The Disciple has that feel of a burgeoning master: the patience and sureness of touch; the controlled surrealist flourishes; the sheer ambition and scope.
What’s most interesting, although it gets slightly buried under a few too many almost identical musical performances, is the film’s account of the fractious symbiosis of the guru-disciple relationship.
I wish that I enjoyed The Disciple as much as I admired it. The film is a labour of love insofar as it feels overthought and overburdened, with all the rough edges planed down.