The Disciple is a true examination of a vocalist’s internal struggle.
This review of the Netflix film The Disciple (2020) contains no spoilers — the drama was released on the streaming service on April 30, 2021.
I’ve always believed that the fear of failure is one of our main weaknesses in the human race. History has defined that failures lead to success and betters us — embracing failure is actually a strength. The need to make a name for ourselves often derives from insecurity rather than the focus on happiness.
The subject of “happiness” has been a regular topic of conversation during the pandemic, and I am warmed that Netflix allowed me to watch this film. The Disciple (2020) follows a devoted vocalist in classical North Indian music as he strives to master it — the objective, however, appears to be evasive.
Sharad (played by Aditya Modak) emanates self-doubt and sacrifice throughout the heavily layered feature — he presents many crises, ranging from existential to midlife. He has love and respect for the art, yet the character lacks the self-awareness of what he truly wants — The Disciple is indicative of a “wanting” and insecure generation of young people.
Of course, Netflix’s The Disciple requires a measure of the viewer’s concentration; if the audience is unaware of Indian classical music and the culture surrounding it, then you will be submersed into many minutes of vocal demonstrations — the film requires appreciation and willingness to learn, however, the perspective is always scoped from Sharad.
And I believe that’s what the director does well; he has made the music into a character that Sharad finds himself battling with — while the music plays amongst audiences and chatter, the shots and ambiance are placed in a way that you find yourself zeroing on Sharad. The actor has performed with a certain intention in mind — you can hear him thinking, even amongst strong music. The Disciple is a true examination of a vocalist’s internal struggle.
Desperation to become one of the greats becomes the film’s overriding story arc. However, in this multi-layered experience, the story is truly about a route to happiness. Will “being great” make the character happy or enjoying the music he loves? That’s what the audience needs to decide. The Disciple is a genuine experience.