Director: Kedar Shinde
Producers: Kedar Shinde Pictures and Eros International
Writers: Dilip Prabhavalkar and Kedar Shinde
Cast: Sonali Kulkarni, Dharmendra Gohil, Bharat Jadhav, Surabhi Hande, Prasad Oak
Release Date: May 22, 2015
Rating: * *
Review By: Keyur Seta
The basic prerequisite for the sequel of a successful film is an interesting concept that takes the franchise forward. Its clear absence becomes the reason for the downfall of Kedar Shinde’s Marathi movie Aga Bai Arechya 2.
Unfortunately, this is not its only problem area. Such a description also means that the film is way below the enjoyable and humorous first film in the franchise Aga Bai Arechya (2004), which starred Sanjay Narvekar in the lead.
The film centers round Shubhangi aka Shubha (Sonali Kulkarni). She is in her 30s but not yet married due to a mysterious and tragic condition in her life. As soon as she touches her lover in any way, the latter gets involved in a serious accident. This has been going on since her childhood.
Intrigued by the story of Shubha’s life, author Vikram (Dharmendra Gohil) decides to write a book on her life. Initially, she strictly refuses but slowly gets convinced about Vikram’s sincerity. She reveals to him about her past lovers (Bharat Jadhav, Prasad Oak and Madhav Deochake). Will her unusual ‘curse’ continue to torment her? Or will it set her free finally?
Aga Bai Arechya 2 suffers from an unconvincing concept, which is taken forward through a questionable plot point. Seriously, why would Shubha allow a complete stranger to narrate her tragic personal story to the world considering her situation? But what takes the cake is the important turn in the second half. It’s not possible to reveal much to avoid spoilers but there is no harm in saying that this particular point induces unintentional laughter.
Also, the overall setting and characters appear outdated in today’s era. So, what do we have going for the film? Being the sequel of a humorous movie, thankfully there is some amount of genuine laughter that stops the film from completely falling apart.
Nishaad’s music is another plus point. Songs like ‘Ek Porgi Sandhyakali’, ‘Dil Mera’, ‘Maza Dev Kuni Pahila’ and ‘Jagnyache Bhaan He’ are good enough to take back home. Suresh Deshmane, the DoP has provided with satisfying glimpses of the Konkan region. The rest of the technicalities are decent.
Sonali Kulkarni is one of the finest actors around. She brings in her goodness to overshadow the fallacies and also manages to look ravishing. But it would have been better if she wasn’t asked to scream at times. Dharmendra Gohil, known for his theatre performances, makes a confident debut in Marathi cinema.
Bharat Jadhav displays his skills well in a hatke role. In cameos, Prasad Oak and Madhav Deochake are average and the two girls playing younger Shubha provide likable acts. The rest of the supporting cast is decent.
Overall: Aga Bai Arechya 2 fails due to basic issues. The presence of Sonali Kulkarni in the lead and the family-oriented subject will help the film earn well at the box office in the first week.
Rating: * * ½
By: Keyur Seta
Director Ravi Jadhav's Marathi movie TimePass 2 treads on the same path as TimePass. The film is high on humor but not so high on content. In taking forward the love story of Dagadu and Prajakta, the makers have resorted to not only age-old clichés but also unconvincing factors. But there is enough entertainment for the target audience to savor this dish once.
The story of Dagadu and Praju takes a leap. Dagadu is now 30 years old and unmarried. He still dreams of Prajakta (or Parajakta), although it has been a long time since she left him. She has settled in Konkan with her father aka Shakaal (Bhalchandra Kadam) after leaving Mumbai. Prajakta’s father is eager to marry her off with a well-cultured guy.
Meanwhile, Dagadu’s crazy friends encourage him to meet Prajakta, express his love for her and get married to her. Hence, he along with his friends goes on a mission to Konkan. But does Prajakta still love him? What about Shakaal who hates Dagadu to the core?
The USP of TimePass 2 is its humor. But while the comic moments in the first film were born out of Dagadu’s adolescent antics and cute obsession, here the onus is on crazy, whacky and slapstick situational comedy in plenty of doses, which keeps you entertained throughout. Although at times it appears forceful and silly, it goes with the genre.
But the problem areas are big, which cannot be ignored. The basic plot itself is questionable. Why did Dagadu wait till the age of 30 to search for Prajakta? Why didn’t the couple be in touch all these years through various technological means? Also, the twist about the secret profession of a character is completely unconvincing. The film also derails from the main aim post interval and ends on a clichéd, tried and tested manner.
From Chinar and Mahesh’ music, the song ‘Praju’ stands out. The rest of the songs fall in the ‘not bad’ or ‘decent’ category. ‘Madan Pichkari’ doesn’t go well with the family movie genre. Vasudeo Rane’s camerawork captures the beautiful Konkan in a simple and subtle manner. The background score is as per the need. The jingle ‘Insaniyat Ke Dushman’ should have been used more though.
Priyadarshan Jadhav carries the difficult task of playing the grown up Dagadu with confidence, although he overdoes on a few occasions. Priya Bapat once again provides a convincing and likeable performance. Vaibhav Mangle was remarkable in the first film. He goes few notches higher here by being convincing during both comical and emotional moments.
It is heartwarming to see Prathamesh Parab entering the scene every now and then, displaying his typical crowd-pleasing behavior. The same can be said about Ketaki Mategaonkar although she doesn’t get to speak much. Sandip Pathak and two other actors playing Dagadu’s friends are decent while Bhalchandra Kadam, as Dagadu’s father, is effective once again.
Overall: TimePass 2 is a one-time watch entertainer. The brand value and some tremendous hype will make sure that the film will break box office records.
Director: Ravi Jadhav
Producers: Nitin Keni, Nikhil Sane and Meghana Jadhav
Writers: Ravi Jadhav, Kshitij Patwardhan and Priyadarshan Jadhav
Cast: Priyadarshan Jadhav, Priya Bapat, Prathamesh Parab, Ketaki Mategaonkar, Vaibhav Mangle
Genre: Romance/ Comedy
Rating: * * * *
By: Keyur Seta
Courts have had a long relationship with Indian films. But mostly the court proceedings shown in our movie are no way near to reality. It is only since recent times that films like No One Killed Jessica (2011), Jolly LLB (2013) and Shahid (2013) have depicted court scenes as close to reality as possible.
But director Chaitanya Tamhane’s Marathi movie Court depicts the judicial process with never-seen-before reality. However, at the same time, the film stays far away from being a documentary or docu-drama. It focuses more on the dark humorous side while raising several serious questions about our judiciary and law and order procedure.
The film revolves around Narayan Kamble (Vira Sathidar), a senior citizen from Mumbai working as a tution teacher. As a passion, he also writes and performs folk songs that depict the sorry tale of laborers and menial workers. Once, while performing, he is arrested for allegedly writing and performing a song that instigated a menial worker to commit suicide. Lawyer Vinay Vora (Vivek Gomber) fights Kamble’s case. Is Kamble Guilty?
Court is not a film in conventional sense. It is an honest presentation of a court case in an actual form. The arguments inside the courtroom, the casual conversations and the everyday, routine scenes appear right out of reality. There is also no background music whatsoever while the camerawork goes with the realistic genre.
However, this doesn’t make for a tedious watch as there is continuous dark humor. In fact, the film proves that you don’t need any melodrama to make court proceedings interesting. As I have witnessed court proceedings, I too agree that the real courtroom scenes have plenty of potential for entertainment, especially if it is Sessions Court, which is the case in the film.
But amidst the humor, the film completely succeeds in its motto of presenting the sorry and, at times, disturbing realities of our judiciary system. It also hints at the removal of Victorian laws that are completely irrelevant in today’s era.
Court has a questionable aspect though. There is too much footage given to the personal lives of both lawyers and the judge. Although these parts are also entertaining and meaningful in a way, few moments appear unnecessary, especially the way the film is dragged in the last few minutes. Thankfully, this point doesn’t lower your satisfaction much.
The performances fully complement the subject. It is difficult to believe that Narayam Kamble is not a real person and is just a fictional character. This is simply because of Vira Sathidar’s excellently realistic performance. Vivek Gomber isn’t behind though. He too perfectly gets into the skin of a Gujarati defense lawyer. Pradeep Joshi, as the judge, and Geetanjali Kulkarni, as the Public Prosecutor, render brilliant acts too. Shirish Pawar shines in a supporting role.
Overall: Court is a daringly realistic saga that is also high on entertainment. The film has received the National Award for Best Feature Film and a number of other international awards and rightly so. It deserves positive word-of-mouth to make a good impact at the box office.
Director: Chaitanya Tamhane
Producer: Vivek Gomber
Writer: Chaitanya Tamhane
Actors: Vira Sathidar, Vivek Gomber, Pradeep Joshi, Geetanjali Kulkarni
Rating: * * ½
By: Keyur Seta
The current lot of youngsters are suffering from generation gap when it comes to marriage. While they don’t consider concepts like ‘marriageable age’, their parents think otherwise. This conflict is explored in director Prakash Kunte’s Coffee Ani Barach Kahi through a love story that youngsters of today’s era will relate to. However, this doesn’t ensure a quality product since the film falters in the writing department.
Jai (Prarthana Behre) is a girl-next-door who believes in fairytale romances. She has recently fallen in love with her senior at work, Nishad (Vaibhav Tatyawadi). He too has similar feelings for her. One evening, Nidhad calls Jai at a coffee shop as he has finally decided to propose to her. However, just as Jai is about to leave, her father informs her that his friend’s son (Bhushan Pradhan) will be coming to see her for marriage. What will she do now?
Coffee Ani Barach Kahi scores well while presenting a realistic situation of a young girl mildly forced to meet a prospective groom while she is in love with someone else. Although this idea isn’t novel by any means, it is presented in a new-age manner, which also makes sure that the parents don’t turn out to be atyacharis, thankfully. The same modern presentation is also seen in the office romance. The real subtle humor too makes the proceedings viewer-friendly in the first half, despite not much story progression.
After defining the basic plot in the first half, you naturally expect the story to move forward. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen as the audience is presented with pretty much the same thing that they were served in the first half. The writers tell us the story we already know and present us with the age-old filmi climax. In a bid to make the film simple, they end up making it bland.
The film is blessed by the magical romantic track ‘Rang He Nave Nave’. Its violin tune, which is also used in the background, deserves to be saved in your mobile phone. The cinematography and editing turn out to be decent.
Prarthana Behre is does justice to the character of Jai, in which she fits perfectly. Vaibhav Tatwawadi is also natural. You easily feel for him. Bhushan Pradhan does well as the mature guy who comes to see Jai. After Samhita and Ajoba, Neha Mahajan continues her good work. Ashwini Ekbote, Vidyadhar Joshi, Ila Bhate and Suyash Tilak offer good support. Dilip Prabhavalkar is memorable in a cameo.
Overall: Coffee Ani Barach Kahi is an average romantic film. The film will have a tough time at the box office due to biggies like Detective Byomkesh Bakshy and Fast & Furious 7 releasing on the same day.
Rating: * * *
By: Keyur Seta
Nikhil Mahajan’s Baji achieves a rare feat of being a powerful action saga narrated and crafted in an artistic way. It is a benchmark of sorts for Marathi cinema when it comes to presenting a story. However, the film doesn’t rise as much as you expect after a brilliant first half due to various reasons. But there is enough in Baji for the masses to savor it.
Baji is based in the village of Shrigangpur, where Chidu (Shreyas Talpade) lives a simple life with his mother. Chidu is honest but lags behind in intelligence and bravery. This is the reason why he doesn’t find acceptance from the girl he is madly in love with – his childhood friend Gauri (Amruta Khanvilkar). The village is also known because of the savior Baji, who is believed to exist decades ago.
But there are some like Chidu who don’t believe such tales. But Gauri is a firm believer in Baji as the hero had saved her life during her childhood. She has been in love with Baji ever since and is still waiting for him. Chidu is eager to be her Baji but will he succeed? Meanwhile, Martand (Jitendra Joshi), a harmless villager, turns into a greedy devil when he comes to know that tons of gold lies underneath the land of Shrirangpur.
Baji is a rare example of a close to three hour movie that doesn’t force you to look at the clock even once. As far as the first half is concerned, the fascinating and intriguing storyline, creative narration and Mahajan’s mature handling of the subject leave you super-impressed! The shadow fighting sequence is a sheer pleasure and it deserves special mention. At this point itself you realize the film is an achievement for Marathi cinema.
But alas, things aren’t so similar in the second half. Although it continues to be a well-shot entertaining affair till the end, it is the twist that plays spoilsport. After such an out-of-the-box first half, you really don’t expect the story to tread on the age old, tried-and-tested formula lines, but this is exactly what happens. In fact, the basic plot is almost the same as that of a Marathi film released not-so-long-ago, which itself was a mish-mash of a number of Hindi films.
Vasu Rane’s camerawork plays a large role in making Baji look like an international product. Be in the picturesque locales of Konkan or the high octane action sequences, he excels throughout. The background score and editing also make sure the final product turns out to be technically impressive. Atif Afzal joins the party too with well composed tracks, from which the title song is the best of all.
The film will also be remembered for its action and stunts, especially the train sequence. However, the use of a huge hammer to beat up could have been avoided. Such visuals can’t be digested by a large section of the audience since the film is aimed at people of all age groups.
Coming to the performances, this film required Shreyas Talpade to give his best performance till date and he does that. This act also adds on to his versatility since he manages to excel even in this genre. Jitendra Joshi matches up to him with an excellent, powerful villainous act. This will surely be one of his most talked about act always.
Amruta Khanvilkar too displays her talent playing a tough village belle. Actors playing Chidu’s friend and mother too play their parts well. Nagraj Manjule (director of Fandry) scores in a cameo.
Overall: Baji is an entertainer worth your time and money. It also ensures Nikhil Mahajan to be a lookout for the future. With the tremendous hype and its commercial nature, it is most likely to be a box office success.
Director: Nikhil Mahajan
Producers: IME Motion Pictures & Dar Motion Pictures
Writers: Nikhil Mahajan & Suhrud Godbole
Cast: Shreyas Talpade, Jitendra Joshi, Amruta Khanvilkar
Music: Atif Afzal
Genre: Action/ Drama
Rating: * *
By: Keyur Seta
A film about the ideologies and teachings of an inspirational personality, who has a Godly status among his followers, should ideally be a soul-stirring affair. If not this, it should at least be filled with moments that touch you.
Director Atul Kale’s Balkadu has such instances but they are only few and far between. The film overall turns out to be a wannabe type due to some weak writing and execution. It also bears striking similarities with Mahesh Manjrekar’s Mee Shivajiraje Bhosale Boltoy.
The story revolves around Balkrushna Patil (Umesh Kamat), who is a school teacher staying in Mumbai’s Nala Sopara. His professional and personal life, including his relation with his childhood sweetheart Sai (Neha Pendse), is far from perfect.
As he teaches History, he starts suffering from a condition where he hears voices of historical personalities. Among these voices, the most prominent one is that of the late Shiv Sena Supremo Balasaheb Thackeray. At the same time, Balkrushna’s heart bleeds to see the condition of Marathi people in Mumbai. Will Thackeray’s guidance turn out to be an inspiration for him?
Balkadu’s motto is to spread Thackeray’s message for his followers to fight for their rights. But the primary objective of every film is to tell an interesting tale and this is where it falters. The biggest weakness here is the writing. There is hardly any story in the first half. This ensures a screenplay with errors and without any flow.
Things remain the same post-interval. The protagonist’s manner of enlightening and the way the revolution spreads is unconvincing and, at times, unintentionally hilarious. His idea of Marathis moving from the outskirts of Mumbai into the heart of the city is also impractical. Due to these issues, the inspirational message, barring few moments, hardly has any effect on you, especially the speeches, which appear corny.
Another worrisome aspect is the justification given for vandalism. Also, abhorring the idea of Marathi girls marrying non-Marathi guys is regressive in today’s era.
From the music, the Powada song is the only impressive number. But it is quite funny to see a teacher singing and dancing to such a song while teaching history. The camerawork falls in the good category while the background music is too loud.
Apart from some genuinely funny moments, it is Umesh Kamat’s performance that keeps the film going. He gets his act right by portraying various emotions with ease. Prasad Oak is highly convincing as the bad guy. Neha Pendse isn’t bad. As Balkrushna’s mother, Supriya Pathare provides an entertaining act. The actor playing the channel head is average. Anand Ingale is likable while Tiku Talsania is over-the-top. Pushkar Shrotri impresses in a cameo.
Overall: Balkadu doesn’t create the desired effect due to various issues. The film stands some chance at the box office due to the hype.
Director: Atul Kale
Producers: The Great Maratha Entertainment
Writers: Ganesh Pandit and Ambar Hadap
Cast: Umesh Kamat, Prasad Oak, Neha Pendse, Supriya Pathare, Anand Ingale, Tiku Talsania
Release Date: January 23, 2015
Rating: * * ½
By: Keyur Seta
Director: Aditya Sarpotdar
Producers: Video Palace and S K Production Films
Writers: Kshitij Patwardhan and Sameer Vidwans
Cast: Ankush Choudhary, Siddharth Chandekar, Sai Tamhankar, Sonalee Kulkarni, Sachit Patil, Pallavi Patil
Review: Director Aditya Sarpotdar’s Classmates focuses on a group of college friends and their life after college. Such a subject instantly reminds you of Sanjay Jadhav’s Duniyadari. Funnily enough, Classmates turns out to be like a remake of Duniyadari, with the additional elements of political war and suspense woven into the main plot. In spite of this, the film keeps your interest alive only to dish out some disappointment in the end.
The story commences in 2015 when a group of friends inaugurates a music section in the college from where they passed out. Starting a music section in the college was a dream of their friend who is no more. A shocking incident just after the inauguration forces them to go recall their college days during the final year 20 years ago.
In 1995, Satya (Ankush Choudhary), Aparna aka Appu (Sai Tamhankar) and their group, from TYBA, are known for their aggressive ways. First year students Ani (Siddharth Chandekar), Aditi (Sonalee Kulkarni), Rohit (Sachit Patil) and Heena (Pallavi Patil) also become a part of their lives. The college elections that year changes their lives forever.
Just a couple of minutes into the film and you get a déjà vu about Duniyadari. As the minutes roll by, you get a scary feeling that you are being re-served the 2013 blockbuster in a new bottle, not only in terms of the basic scenario but also the traits of two or three main characters. Thankfully, inclusion of political and mystery angles make sure it is not a complete remake.
These elements do lift the film as it keeps you guessing till the end. Sarpotdar’s manner of presenting various twists and their timing ensure dramatic thrill regularly. However, the final twist and conclusion isn’t much convincing, although it takes you by surprise. You feel there is something amiss. Plus, the final scene brings back memories of Duniyadari. The film also suffers from being dragged in the second half. Its high length of 153 minutes isn’t justified.
Music (Amitraj, Avinash-Vishwajeet, Troy-Arif, Pankaj Padghan) plays an important part as the songs suit the situations and prove to be hummable. The camerawork and background score are also as per the need.
As for the performances, the film mainly belongs to Siddharth Chandekar, who perfectly gets into the skin of his character and provides a mature act. Ankush Choudhary too packs a punch but his character is very similar to the one he played in Duniyadari. Sai Tamhankar proves to be effective once again in two starkly opposite characters.
Sachit Patil performs well while playing an interesting character. Sonalee Kulkarni, Pallavi Patil and Sushant Shelar play their respective characters well. The rest of the actors provide decent support.
Overall: Classmates is an average college film. Its similarities with Duniyadari will also go against it. Due to a good amount of publicity, the film will do well at the box office in the first week.
By: Keyur Seta
Rating: * * * *
The basic motto of a biopic is to do complete justice to the person on whom it is based. The next challenge for such genre of films is to leave behind a solid impact on the heart and mind of the viewer through his message or teachings. Om Raut’s Lokmanya – Ek Yug Purush succeeds in both areas while also making sure it is not just any other freedom fighter biopic.
Lokmanya – Ek Yug Purush focuses on the life of India’s freedom fighter, journalist, teacher and social reformer, Bal Gangadhar Tilak aka Lokmanya Tilak from the time he was a college student till the end of his life. The film highlights his fight against the British rule through various means and its consequences.
The story of a newspaper journalist (Chinmay Mandlekar), based in today’s times, is also narrated simultaneously. Hailing from Mumbai’s middle-class, he is about to marry his rich fiancée (Priya Bapat). But a chance incident ignites some serious inner conflict within him.
Biopics face a danger of becoming a bit boring or a drag, making it unacceptable for the youth. But Lokmanya steers clear from it. Through a riveting screenplay, powerful dialogues and appealing presentation, you are kept engrossed. It also makes sure that the protagonist’s inspiring lines don’t turn out to be fake or corny. Although the film is filled with soul-stirring events, the sequence about the explanation of the Bhagvad Gita and the sad truth during opening credits deserve mention.
But as mentioned before, the film stands apart from the usual biopics. This is due to the story of the journalist, based in today’s era, which is connected to the life story of Tilak. This aspect will break your heart about the kind of lives people are living today. It will force you to question not only others but also yourself.
Lokmanya has few issues though. The commercial element in some sequences should have been toned down. But the biggest question mark is the change of heart of a supporting character, which is unconvincing.
Ajit-Sameer’s music enhances the proceedings to a greater level, especially the theme song. The same can be said for the technicalities (camerawork, background score and editing), production values and costume designing.
Lokmanya wouldn’t have been reached this level without Subodh Bhave’s brilliant enactment of the protagonist. With a powerful and heartwarming act, he shows why he is one of the finest artists around. Sameer Sanjay Vidwans too shines in the role of Gopal Ganesh Agarkar.
Chinmay Mandlekar succeeds in displaying frustration and helplessness, mostly through his expressions. Priya Bapat too plays her part perfectly. Angad Mhaskar, as Daiji Khare, Prashant Uthale, as Chapekar, and the rest of the actors play their parts well. However, the actor in the role of Swami Vivekananda is a miscast.
Overall: Lokmanya – Ek Yug Purush is an ideal film for today’s youth to know this important personality from India’s freedom struggle. It is expected to do well at the box office.
Director: Om Raut
Writers: Om Raut and Kaustubh Savarkar
Producers: Neena Raut Films and Emmay Entertainment
Cast: Subodh Bhave, Chinmay Mandlekar, Sameer Sanjay Vidwans, Priya Bapat
Genre: Period Drama
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.
To 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.
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 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.
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