The Common Man Speaks

29Nov/140

Review: Happy Journey

By: Keyur Seta

Rating: * * * *

Director: Sachin Kundalkar

Producers: Everest Entertainment

Writer: Sachin Kundalkar

Cast: Atul Kulkarni, Priya Bapat, Pallavi Subhash

Music: Karan Kulkarni

The title of Sachin Kundalkar’s Happy Journey is misleading, but in a good way. The film actually is a very happy journey; one which forces you to introspect and question yourself while you are filled with delight. It is yet another contemporary Marathi film with an international appeal.

Happy Journey revolves around the 35-year-old Niranjan (Atul Kulkarni) and his younger sister Janaki (Priya Bapat) and their unexpected and life-changing journey. Later on, Alice (Pallavi Subhash), Niranjan’s school friend, also becomes a part of the voyage.

After the initial few minutes, anybody’s obvious guess would be to see the film head into an obvious, particular direction. However, not only are we proved wrong but we are also dished out a huge surprise or a pleasant shock, if we can call it, in terms of the basic plot. The subject is way different form what we have seen in the promos, where the makers have smartly hidden it.

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Happy-Journey-marathi-movieTo simply put it, the storyline is unique. This itself is the biggest plus point. But the end result was possible due to Kundalkar’s mature handling of a sensitive subject. As the journey moves ahead, various layers are unveiled, which make you think a lot by just the visual medium. In other words, the film says a lot without saying much. Of course, there are emotional and, on few occasions, tear-jerking moments but they are in no way depressing.

The subject is such that it also has its share of flaws. There are few other questionable moments too, especially in the second half, where the pace also dips a bit. Thankfully, these issues don’t play spoilsport.

DoP Rangarajan Ramabadran has spectacularly captured the beautiful locations of the Konkan region. His work plays a large role in creating the desired effect. Karan Kulkarni composed tracks are soulful and they go perfectly with the situations.

Atul Kulkarni is easily one of the finest artists of the era. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that he delivers yet another outstandingly believable act while playing a complex character. But the scene-stealer is Priya Bapat. You just can’t stop adoring her due to the manner in which she gets her act right. Pallavi Subhash once again shows signs of talent. There is some issue with her Marathi pronunciation but it might be deliberate to go with her Catholic background.

Veteran artist Chitra Palekar returns as an actor after 32 years with this film. Despite having just a couple of scenes, we can say she has made a terrific comeback. Shiv Subramaniam too leaves behind a mark in just a single scene. Suhita Thatte, Madhav Abhyankar and Siddharth Menon play their respective characters perfectly.

Overall: Happy Journey is an example of a modern tale, which is high on content. Given the end result and the presence of big names, the film will score well at the box office.

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21Nov/142

Vitti Dandu (Marathi Movie) Review

By: Keyur Seta

Rating: * * *

The mention of Indian freedom fighters instantly brings to our minds those famous names that we have been studying since our school days. But there were lakhs of unknown individuals who made enormous sacrifices for our nation by happily bearing the atrocities of the British. Director Ganesh Kadam’s Marathi movie Vitti Dandu pays tribute to such unknown freedom fighters in a heartwarming manner. However, some obvious issues hamper the film from being more impressive.

The story takes place in 1947 in Morgaon, a remote village in Maharashtra. The place is so out of touch with the neighboring areas that it takes around a week for any news to reach there. Among the few hundred inhibitors of the village are Daji (Dilip Prabhavalkar) and his grandson Govind (Nishant Bhavsar). In spite of his son and daughter-in-law being killed by the British, Daji continues to respect them and, in fact, hates those who wish for an independent India.

In the midst of bearing insults and bullying from his fellow villagers, all of a sudden there comes a moment of huge threat for Daji and Govind. The twist is triggered by the ‘Vitti’ that is used in the game Vitti Dandu (Gilli Danda in Hindi). The story of Daji and Govind is narrated in 2014 by a grandfather (Ravindra Mankani) to his techno-savvy grandson (Shubhankar Atre) while highlighting the importance of being in touch with nature.

vitti-dandu-marathi-movieVitti Dandu has a solid foundation of an interesting and intriguing storyline that consist a smart mixture of a grandfather-grandson relationship, freedom struggle and the dying sport of Vitti Dandu. The narration flow and the biggest twist in the tale are also handled maturely.

Kadam has succeeded in bringing alive the pre-independence era of freedom struggle with the scenes depicting patriotic vigor filling you with pride. It is after a long time that patriotism in a film has steered away from appearing fake. The bonding between the people of the village deserves special mention. The dig taken at technology-obsessed individuals who are out of touch with nature is also laudable.

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However, the film stops itself from earning more brownie points due to some issues that cannot be ignored. Firstly, there is a big question mark in the main twist. There are logical errors in the second half too. But what hurts the film the most is the last ten minutes. The idea was to induce applause from the audience but that doesn’t happen due to silliness and over-ambition. They should have exploited the important plot twist of the finale in a more mature manner.

The cinematographer has succeeded in artistically capturing the beautiful locations. The background score is as per the need. From the songs, the theme ‘Vande Mataram’ is a powerful rendition which also suits the subject.

The performance area is a plus point. Dilip Prabhavalkar once again succeeds in perfectly getting into the skin of his character and getting every aspect of the character right. Considering he is doing it consistently since last few years shows the brilliance of this artist. Nishant Bhavsar provides a fine act in a difficult role.

Yatin Karyekar, as an elderly Muslim, and Mrunal Thakur are impressive too. The film is also well supported by Ashok Samarth, Vikas Kadam, Uday Deshmukh, Ravindra Mankani and Shubhankar Atre. The actors playing British officers don’t get much scope and appear out of place.

Overall: Despite few issues, Vitti Dandu succeeds in being a moving saga that pays tribute to the many unknown freedom fighters.

Director: Ganesh Kadam

Producers: Raj Radha Movies

Writers: Vikas Kadam and Ganesh Kadam

Cast: Dilip Prabhavalkar, Nishant Bhavsar, Yatin Karyekar, Mrunal Thakur, Ashok Samarth

Genre: Period Drama/ Patriotism

14Nov/140

Elizabeth Ekadashi (Marathi Movie) Review

By: Keyur Seta

Rating: * * * ½

After his magnificent debut with the classic Harishchandrachi Factory, India’s official entry to the Oscars, there was naturally a keen wait for Paresh Mokashi’s next. The wait is finally over as the maker is back with Elizabeth Ekadashi. Looking at the overall product, we can say that the close to five-year wait is worth. The film turns out to be another simple heart-warming tale that leaves a wide smile on your face.

The story takes place in the holy village of Pandharpur (Maharashtra) where the adolescent Dnyanesh (Shrirang Mahajan) lives with his mother (Nandita Dhuri), younger sister Mukta (Sayali Bhandarkavathekar) and grandmother, after his father passed away few years back. His father had built a unique bicycle named Elizabeth. Dnyanesh and Mukta are literally in love with it.

With his father no more, his family is facing severe financial crisis. His mother needs to pay five thousand rupees to the bank to get her sweater machine back. For this purpose, she considers selling Elizabeth as that would greatly help the cause. But naturally, the kids oppose to the idea. Will Elizabeth be saved?

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Elizabeth-EkadashiOver the last few years, Marathi cinema has been regularly churning out simple and realistic rural flicks with strong emotional storyline and characters you easily fall in love with. Elizabeth Ekadashi also falls in this category. However, it manages to stand apart from most of such flicks due to the utter realism it oozes in literally every frame. The real, everyday scenes of Pandharpur are simply a delight. Therefore, it is difficult to accept that the characters are fictitious.

The film follows a contemporary mode of storytelling wherein the tale is narrated through real, everyday scenarios, which makes it smooth flowing and natural. What is further impressive is that Mokashi clearly steers away from melodrama, for which there was a lot of scope. Hence, there are countless moments where a scene says a lot without saying much.

Coming to the negative points, there is one questionable aspect, which cannot be revealed to avoid spoilers. The entire plot also becomes predictable after a while. But thankfully, you tend to enjoy the predictability as it fills you with delight as you leave the hall.

The only song ‘Dagad Dagad’ by the late Anand Modak is used as the theme and it suits the subject perfectly. There is some fine display of art by the cinematographer (Amol Gole) while the background score too is impressive.

The film is also blessed with excellent performances. In the role of Dnyanesh, Shrirang Mahajan simply wins you over with an outstanding act. Considering his age, he has carried the responsibility with amazing ease. Nandita Dhuri too puts forth a brilliantly believable portrayal of the mother.

Sayali Bhandarkavathekar, as Dnyanesh’s sister, is amazingly cute. The lady playing the grandmother doesn’t lag behind at all. As Dnyanesh’s friend, Pushkar Lonkar is hilarious! At the same time, he scores well during emotional scenes too. The rest of the actors offer perfect support.

Overall: Elizabeth Ekadashi is yet another heartwarming rural tale from Marathi cinema. The film stands a good chance of garnering impressive collections at the box office.

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Director: Paresh Mokashi

Producers: Mayasabha Productions and Essel Vision

Writers: Madhugandha Kulkarni and Paresh Mokashi

Cast: Shrirang Mahajan, Nandita Dhuri, Sayali Bhandarkavathekar, Pushkar Lonkar

Music: Anand Modak

Genre: Drama

26Oct/140

Pyaar Vali Love Story Review – Absurdity kills the message

By: Keyur Seta

Rating: * *

Romeo and Juliet stories are done to death. But this is not exactly the reason why Sanjay Jadhav’s Pyaar Vali Love Story doesn’t work. The film gets the viewer interested for some time but suddenly falls down the graph of sensibility and continues to do so till its hilariously silly climax. This is enough to ensure that the important message that it tries to give is lost.

The story is set in 1992 in Mumbai. Pashya (Sameer Dharmadhikari) and Kadar (Upendra Limaye) are the best of friends living in adjacent colonies occupied by Hindus and Muslims respectively. Pashya is in love with the hot-tempered but kind Nandini (Urmila Kanitkar Kothare), from his locality.

Amar (Swapnil Joshi), Pashya’s brother who stays in a hostel in Pune, returns to Mumbai to arrange his brother’s marriage with Nandini. As soon as he arrives in the city, he falls for Aliya (Sai Tamhankar), who is Kadar’s sister. But they soon realize that their path of love is filled with obstacles.

Pyar-Wali-Love-Story-Marathi-MoviePyaar Vali Love Story works decently in the first 50-55 minutes. Simple characters, their strong bonds and small joys gain your sympathy. Although the spoon-feeding narration and the forceful bonding between both communities could have been avoided, you at least feel interested due to some appealing moments. For example, the manner in which Kadar gets people of the locality to take part in Pashya’s wedding. Despite the tried-and-tested method, the romance angle also somewhat works.

But like an accident, the film abruptly loses sense just before interval through an unconvincing twist. What follows is one silly scene following another initiated by a poor misunderstanding. It amazes you how some characters, who till now showed a lot of maturity, suddenly start behaving like immature kids. But just when you think you have seen enough absurdity, you realize that the writers have saved the best one for the climax. On a less serious note, it at least succeeds in making you laugh.

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Another questionable aspect is such high usage of Hindi in the dialogues and songs. The obvious reason for this is that few characters are Muslim. But that doesn’t mean you convert the film into bilingual whenever they are speak.

The songs (Pankaj Padghan, Amitraj and Samir Saptiska), both peppy and romantic numbers, provide some satisfaction. Prasad Bhende’s camerawork is decent. The violin tunes in the background score work very well.

The performances are hampered by the content. Swapnil Joshi and Sai Tamhankar manage to impress as the lead pair. Upendra Limaye and Sameer Dharmadhikari are decent as hot-headed individuals. Urmila Kanetkar Kothare provides a believable and dedicated act by smartly getting into the skin of her character. Nagesh Bhosale and Chinmay Mandlekar, in a cameo, are alright.

Overall: Pyaar Vali Love Story fails in giving an important message due to some unforgivable absurdities. The presence of well-known names and the fact that it is the next film by the team of Duniyadari will ensure a good run for it at the box office in the first week.

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Director: Sanjay Jadhav

Producers: Inder Raj Kapoor, Rekha Joshi and Deepak Pandurang Rane

Writers: Arvind Jagtap, Tapan Bhatt and Ashish Patre

Cast: Swapnil Joshi, Sai Tamhankar, Upendra Limaye, Sameer Dharmadhikari, Urmila Kanetkar Kothare

Music: Pankaj Padghan, Amitraj and Samir Saptiska

Genre: Romance/ Drama

10Oct/140

Review: Dr Prakash Baba Amte – The Real Hero (Marathi Movie)


By:
Keyur Seta

Director: Samruddhi Porey

Producers: Samrouddhi Cine World and Essel Vision

Writer: Samruddhi Porey

Cast: Nana Patekar, Sonali Kulkarni, Ashish Chougule, Vikram Gaikwad, Sushant Kakde, Tejashri Pradhan

Music: Rahul Ranade and Aniruddha Wankar

Genre: Biopic

Rating: * * ½

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Story Outline: The film is a biopic on the lives of Dr Prakash Baba Amte, the son of the great social worker Baba Amte, and his wife Mandakini Amte. It throws light on his selfless service towards tribals of Maharashtra and animals, including the wild ones.

Review: Having access to a fascinating life story isn’t enough while making a biopic. It is equally important for the film to succeed in its basic motto of telling a story. While director Samruddhi Porey’s Dr Prakash Baba Amte – The Forgotten Hero brings to light the heart-wrenching, selfless story of the great social worker, it doesn’t succeed completely as a film as it hardly provides an emotional impact one expects from such biopics.

dr-prakash-baba-amte-movieTalking about the few positives, Porey and the entire unit should be lauded for showing Amte’s humanitarian efforts with utmost reality. This is because shooting with real tribal people and animals is a painstaking task for anyone. Apart from this, the dialogues are intelligent and long lasting with some rib-tickling humor being the surprise element.

But the job of every feature film is to narrate an interesting tale and this is where this biopic falters. Although things aren’t that bad pre-interval, the second half tests your patience as on a number of occasions the film appears more like a documentary disguised as a feature film. In fact, there comes a period where scenes of tribals carrying their ill family members to Amte’s place are repeated again and again. A screenplay without proper flow and faulty pacing of events are to be blamed for this.

Mahesh Anye’s camerawork is noticeable quite regularly. The background score is passable while the editing should have been tighter. The music (Rahul Ranade and Aniruddha Wankar) turns out to be average as not a single track stays with you after the film.

Nana Patekar is very impressive and reliable as he displays his talent while playing the central character. However, on a number of occasions, you can’t help but notice that it appears as if he is playing himself. Sonali Kulkarni also shows why she is considered a fine performer. Mohan Agashe, as Baba Amte, excels in a supporting role. Sushant Kakde and Tejashri Pradhan, as younger Prakash and Mandakini Amte, play their parts well. The rest of the actors provide good support.

Overall: Although Dr Prakash Baba Amte – The Real Hero carries out the important task of highlighting Dr Prakash and Mandakini Amte’s great work, it doesn’t quite succeed as a feature film. Due to the hype and star cast, it will draw crowds initially. But its performance at the box office is doubtful after the first week.

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29Sep/140

Review: Tapaal

By: Keyur Seta

Director: Laxman Utekar

Producers: Maitreya Mass Media Pvt. Ltd.

Writers: Mangesh Hadavale and Laxman Utekar

Cast: Nandu Madhav, Rohit Utekar, Veena Jamkar

Music: Rohit Nagbhide

Genre: Drama

Rating: * * *

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Storyline: The story takes place in the interiors of Raigad, where Ranga (Rohit Utekar), a school kid, is attracted to a girl from his school and village. He tries to woo her but doesn’t succeed. So in order to express his feelings for her, he writes her a letter. However, an incident in their village scares the daylight out of Ranga. Now he must stop the letter from being delivered to the girl. But is it too late?

The film also simultaneously tells the story of the village postman (Nandu Madhav) and his wife (Veena Jamkar) and the tragedy surrounding their life.

tapaal-marathi-movieReview: Earlier this year, Gajendra Ahire presented an interesting saga revolving around a postman in Postcard. The task is now successfully carried forward by Laxman Utekar but through a completely different storyline and treatment in his directorial debut Tapaal.

It is yet another Marathi film of recent years, based in a rural area, which says a lot without saying much as it brings to light different emotions by varied individuals through just one letter or mail. Needless to say, this was possible due to a rich tale narrated in a contemporary and intelligent manner. Although few sequences in the pre-interval portion remind you of Shala and Fandry, the main storyline bears no similarity with those films whatsoever.

There are, however, some issues that stop the film from being superlative. Events in the pre-climax and climax are questionable. Mentioning them would amount to spoilers though. But the biggest issue is the overdose of tear-jerking scenes. A film that had portrayed various emotional moments so subtly (as mentioned before) should have carried on with the same method instead of including so much of sobbing, which, after a point of time, becomes a bit irritating.

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As Utekar has been a successful cinematographer, he has carried that responsibility in this film too and his work behind the camera is excellent. You just can’t help but be amazed by the mountains and landscapes of Raigad through his eyes. The songs, used in the background, suit the situations and so does the high quality background score.

Nandu Madhav moves you with an act that oozes his terrific acting talent. He surely deserves to be seen more. Child actor Rohit Utekar is excellent in a very difficult and physically and emotionally draining role. Veena Jamkar once again displays her high quality talent. Milind Gunaji leaves a mark in an important cameo. Other supporting actors too chip in with good performances.

Overall: Tapaal is an interestingly moving experience. The film has a chance at the box office provided it receives the much needed word-of-mouth publicity.

3Sep/140

Astu – So Be It (Marathi Movie) Review

 

By: Keyur Seta

Directors: Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukhtankar

Producers: Mohan Agashe and Sheelaa Rao

Writer: Sumitra Bhave

Cast: Mohan Agashe, Iravati Harshe, Milind Soman, Nachiket Purnapatre, Amruta Subhash, Devika Daftardar

Music: Saket Kanetkar and Dhananjay Kharwandikar

Genre: Drama

Rating: * * * *

Story Outline: The film revolves around a retired college principal and widower Dr. Shastri aka Appa (Mohan Agashe). He is highly respected for his wisdom and deep knowledge about the Vedas. But lately he has also become known for being handicapped with Alzheimer’s disease, which makes him forget anything, including the names of his own family members.

Appa’s daughter (Iravati Harshe) is married to Dr. Madhav (Milind Soman). Once she takes Appa to his old house. On the way, she leaves him in a car for few minutes as she needs to visit a shop. But in that short duration, Appa goes missing.

Review: There are innumerable films that speak a lot. But there are very few that say a lot of things without saying anything. Directors Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukhtankar’s Astu – So Be It is one of those rare films. On the surface, it appears as a lost-and-found saga but deep inside it brings to forth many layers that force you to think about it long after you leave the cinema hall.

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astu-marathi-movieAstu has Bhave and Sukhtankar’s stamp of uncompromising attitude all over when it comes to the utterly realistic manner in which the film is shot. This helps a lot in creating an intense atmosphere that helps the audience get involved in the proceedings. But of course, it is the watertight script, for most of the duration, which also largely helps its cause. The intelligent manner in which flashback is used deserves special mention.

But the bigger achievement is the message given with regards to the attitude of people from starkly opposite strata of society towards people with a condition like Alzheimer’s. One of the rich layers is also the equation of relationships.  The film also manages to say a lot more through some sub-plots, moving images, conversations and conflict between characters. It will account to spoilers if they are listed here.

The only problem with Astu is its duration. The film should have ended much before and shouldn’t have been dragged during the ending moments. Thankfully though, the overwhelming climax won’t let these points bother you much.

There is no scope for songs as such. But a couple of tracks used in the background gel very well with the situations, especially the one in a South Indian language. Milind Jog’s camerawork creatively captures even the simplest of scenes. The idea of using a hand-held camera on a number of occasions adds to the intensity. The editing is fine but there could have been more use of scissors.

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It is Mohan Agashe’s act that helps the film to rise at such a level. The veteran actor is simply outstanding in a role that can be hugely challenging for any actor. You just can’t help but applaud when he shows signs of Alzheimer’s and speaks with his expressions. But despite such a towering performance by the main lead, Iravati Harshe manages to super impress with a dedicated act.

Milind Soman plays his part well. There is some issue with his Marathi pronunciation though. Nachiket Purnapatre too is wonderful in a difficult role. Despite arriving in the latter part, Amruta Subhash leaves behind a tremendous impact through her brilliant portrayal of a tribal woman. Ila Bhate and Devika Daftardar too shine in extended cameos.

Overall: Astu –So Be It is a must watch for the lovers of sensible cinema. It is sad that such a film is unable to get a proper release. Needless to say, it needs some tremendous word-of-mouth from all those who have been fortunate enough to have seen it.

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16Aug/141

Rege (Marathi Movie) Review


By:
Keyur Seta

Director: Abhijit Panse

Cast: Mahesh Manjrekar, Aroh Welankar, Pushkar Shrotri, Santosh Juvekar

Review: When we think about films on the underworld, we instantly visualize bullets flying and dead bodies collapsing either through gang wars or battles between gangsters and police. This is exactly what we are fed by films of this genre, mostly by Bollywood. But in his very first film Rege, director Abhijit Panse brings

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Picture Source: marathistars.com

Picture Source: marathistars.com

 

8Aug/140

Rama Madhav (Marathi Movie) Review

Director: Mrinal Kulkarni

Cast: Parna Pethe, Alok Rajwade, Mrinal Kulkarni, Prasad Oak, Sonalee Kulkarni, Shruti Marathe, Ravindra Mankani, Dr Amol Kolhe

Rating: * * *

By: Keyur Seta

Story Outline: A bubbly and naughty Rama (Shruti Kalselar and later Parna Pethe) hailing from a middle-class background is married to Madhavrao Peshwa (Alok Rajwade), the prince of the royal Peshwa dynasty, during her childhood. As the two grow up, the political scenario lands the couple in some serious challenges that also affect their personal life. Madhavrao’s evil and scheming uncle Raghunathrao (Prasad Oak) makes things worse.

Review: The mention of the word ‘Peshwa’ instantly brings to our mind the glory of the Maratha Empire and the fearless battles of honor the Peshwas fought and won with style. But amidst such acts of bravery and fearlessness, the era also saw an episode of pure selfless love that is successfully portrayed in Mrinal Kulkarni’s Rama Madhav.

The film takes...

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1Aug/140

Poshter Boyz (Marathi Movie) Review

Director: Sameer Patil

Producers: Shreyas Talpade and Deepti Talpade under Affluence Movies Pvt. Ltd.

Cast: Dilip Prabhavalkar, Hrishikesh Joshi, Aniket Vishwasrao, Neha Joshi, Pooja Sawant

Review: Most of the times, when comedy is born out of a serious issue, the humor takes a backseat at some point in the film, mostly the latter part of the second half. But debutant Sameer Patil’s Poshter Boyz...

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