Rating: * * * ½
By: Keyur Seta
The idea of presenting few short films as a whole film is slowly gaining acceptance. It doesn’t come as a surprise to see the genre entering Marathi cinema, as newer or experimental topics have been a regular feature here.
Bioscope, an amalgamation of four short films, is an interesting start to the genre in Marathi. Although not each of the four films can boast of being superlative, the experience as a whole is certainly pleasing due to the progressiveness on display in each, both in terms of the subject and treatment.
Based on a Ghazal by Mirza Ghalib
Director: Gajendra Ahire
Cast: Neena Kulkarni and Suhas Bhalekar
Writer: Gajendra Ahire
Music: Narendra Bhide
The story takes place in today’s Indore. A classical Ghazal singer (Neena Kulkarni) has been living with her musician friend (Suhas Bhalekar) since 30 years. The two of them are trying to come to terms to the fading days of gharana music and mostly spend their time reminiscing the old, golden years.
This one transports you to the Nawabi Indori Gharana of music. Beautiful tunes, rich production design (the revolving fan standing out) and royal Urdu dialogues continuously enchant you. But the film works as a whole due to the amazing bond between the two characters and the ending moments. Showing the two of them purely as friends is a bold statement. Neena Kulkarni and Suhas Bhalekar provide excellent performances and they also share some amazing chemistry.
Ek Hota Kau
Based on a poem by Saumitra
Director: Viju Mane
Cast: Kushal Badrike, Spruha Joshi
Writer: Viju Mane
Music: Soham Pathak
A young garage owner (Kushal Badrike) falls for a beautiful girl (Spruha Joshi) of a respected family. More than the social difference, it is his skin color that is stopping him from sharing his love for her.
The age old story of a poor guy falling for a rich and upper class girl gets another dimension of the issue of complexion. The undying stigma attached to the dark-skinned in Indian society is presented here in a bold and mature manner; the protagonist is smartly linked with crow. But the story appears dragged after a point. Thankfully, the killer moment in the climax saves the day. Kushal Badrike perfectly molds himself in his character. Spruha Joshi is fine too.
Based on the work of a folk poet Loknath Yashwant
Director: Girish Mohite
Cast: Mangesh Desai, Smita Tambe, Uday Sabnis and Sagar Karande
Writer: Abay Dakhane
The film focuses on the sorry state of affairs of cotton farmers by highlighting the plight of a famer named Panjab (Mangesh Desai). From his small village in the interiors of Maharashtra, he visits Mumbai to join the protest for increasing rates of raw cotton.
This is another not-so-novel subject narrated differently. The sorry condition of a cotton famer is arrived at in a creative manner. The fact that they receive almost peanuts for their produce while the clothes made out of it are sold in an abnormal price is a very appealing manner of highlighting their plight. But the film lacks proper flow. Also, an important event in the tale isn’t presented clearly. Mangesh Desai is fully believable as a helpless farmer. Smita Tambe is also perfect as his wife.
Based on a short story by Vijay Tendulkar
Director: Ravi Jadhav
Writer: Vijay Tendulkar and Ravi Jadhav
Cast: Veena Jamkar, Mrunmayee Deshpande
Music: Salil Kulkarni
The period is 1947. A boy (Sandeep Khare) is eager to share his feelings for his childhood friend Sumitra (Veena Jamkar). But Sumitra loves another girl (Mrunmayee Deshpande).
Story of a lesbian girl based in India in 1947 is something out-of-the-box considering queers’ struggle to gain acceptance even in 2015. Mitraa is a bold, beautiful and unconventional take on the issue of lesbianism. The protagonist’s manner of disclosing her sexual preference and the reactions to it sums up its new-age-ness. But you really can’t ignore its visually stunning frames despite the film being in black and white. One wouldn’t mind watching it as a full-length film. In a difficult role, Veena Jamkar provides a thoroughly skillful act. Sandeep Khare is dedicated as her childhood friend. Mrunmayee Deshpande plays her part well too.
Director: Jaypraad Desai
Producers: Sacchi Entertainment
Writer: Mahesh Keluskar and Jaypraad Desai
Cast: Sachin Khedekar, Milind Soman, Devika Daftardar, Dilip Prabhavalkar, Rajesh Sharma, Dr Shriram Lagoo
Music: Tubby-Parik and Sambhaji Bhagat
Genre: Political Drama
Rating: * * * ½
Review By: Keyur Seta
An honest and fearless protagonist stranded in a grossly corrupt system is not a novel subject. But a tried and tested subject ceases to be one if treated completely in an out-of-the-box or unconventional manner. It is this treatment that makes the Marathi movie Nagrik an impressive, hard-hitting and intense socio-political saga.
The film revolves around the idealistic, fearless and honest-to-the-core newspaper journalist Shyam Jagdale (Sachin Khedekar). He is known for his column Nagrik, where he exposes corrupt practices. His recent column exposes the utterly corrupt and ruthless politician Vikas Patil’s (Milind Soman) idea of orchestrating communal riots. However, this doesn’t go well with his new editor with lose morals.
As the editor is more interested in generating revenue, Jagdale isn’t allowed to publish any more of such stories. Hence, Patil continues his shoddy practices for political gains as a helpless Jagdale looks on. He soon realizes that Patil is just a cog in the entire corrupt machinery. What’s worse is that Jagdale’s personal life is also far from perfect. Will things ever change within his house and outside?
Nagrik doesn’t follow a conventional storyline. It is more of an attempt of providing a glimpse into the filthy world of corrupt politics and the murky underbelly of Mumbai in a completely no-holds-barred manner. Due to some skillful efforts of the writer and director, the film succeeds in its attempt. The viewer is sucked into a truly intense world, which stays on with him/ her long after the completion of the film.
The practice of generating a hard-hitting effect through visuals, expressions and silences isn’t explored much in Indian films. Off late though, the trend if catching up where a particular scene says a lot without saying much. Nagrik continues the trend very successfully. This results in a number of sequences and incidents that hit you hard without the use of clichéd lines. There is a long non-verbal sequence in the second half portraying the irony of the life in Mumbai, which is the highlight of the film.
However, Nagrik, has its share of downfalls. After a point of time in the second half, the proceedings tend to lose grip when nothing much is happening in terms of story development. Few incidents, in this half, are questionable. Also, the climax isn’t as hard-hitting or something that provides a kick. Thankfully, these issues don’t do much in overriding the plusses.
Sambhaji Bhagat’s folk songs played in the background go well with the situation and add up to the effect. From the rest of the tracks, ‘Bola Vithal’ is impressive. The camerawork goes with the intense theme. The background score also adds to the intensity. But majority of the times, they have decided against using any background music and it works that way.
Some dedicated performances also play a major role. Sachin Khedekar brilliantly brings out the right frustration and vulnerability. Having said this, he scores well during witty confrontational scenes with Soman. But Milind Soman too makes a solid impact. He is outstanding as a ruthless, corrupt but at the same time, calm-headed politician. Dilip Prabhavalkar isn’t behind, as is expected from a quality veteran, as another corrupt politician.
Dr. Shriram Lagoo, another thespian, displays his talent in a difficult role of an ex-politician agonized by the sorry state of affairs. The film can also boast of some high quality performances from Devika Daftardar, Rajesh Sharma (Bollywood actor making his Marathi film debut), Neena Kulkarni, Sulabha Deshpande, Madhav Abhyankar and Rajkumar Tangade.
Overall: Nagrik is a hard-hitting realistic socio-political saga that is recommended for the lovers of sensible cinema. It is expected to do fairly well at the box office provided it receives positive word-of-mouth.
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