By: Keyur Seta
Director: Gajendra Ahire
Producers: Sri Pant Production Arts, Navalakha Arts Media Entertainment and Holy Basil Production
Writer: Gajendra Ahire
Cast: Vikram Gokhale, Neena Kulkarni, Rima (Lagoo), Subodh Bhave, Saie Tamhankar, Kishor Kadam, Neha Pendse, Arun Nalavde
Music: Gajendra Ahire
Rating: * * * ½
(Review taken from the website HALTI CHITRE.)
Story Outline: Anumati is the story of the elderly Ratnakar Pathare's (Vikram Gokhale) attempts to save his dying wife (Neena Kulkarni), who has suffered brain hemorrhage. His son (Subodh Bhave) urges him to sign the DNR form (to remove life support) since the former has already spent a large share from his savings. However, Ratnakar refuses to budge as he is hopeful that his wife will survive. But how will he manage to find substantial financial support for further treatment?
Review: How practical it is to spend a large amount on someone who is in her last stage of life? Shouldn’t senior citizens have a right to think about their future just like youngsters? Why is it that someone’s survival only depends on his or her financial condition? While writer and director Gajendra Ahire raises these questions in Anumati, he presents a heart-wrenching, soul-stirring saga that isn’t short of a blissful cinematic experience. He is also largely helped by a movingly dedicated performance by veteran Vikram Gokhale.
The most vital task for the writer was to make sure the audience feels for Ratnakar’s character. That happens here truly convincingly. As the protagonist struggles to find financial support against all odds, the audience is constantly rooting for him. Needless to say, this gets them glued to the proceedings despite the pace not being rapid. Subplots about Ratnakar’s son, daughter, village folk and an old college friend are important aspects of the story that are smartly woven.
There does come a moment when Ratnakar’s struggle for generating funds starts becoming repetitive and tedious. But just then, Rima’s (Lagoo) entry not only gives a fresh dimension to the story, but it also conceives moments that are profoundly heartwarming. The scene where she is having a chat with Gokhale’s character in the kitchen is one of the most memorable instances in recent years. Lastly, the film strikes a chord in a creatively moving climax too.
In the midst of these positive points, the biggest questionable aspect is Ratnakar’s wife not having a mediclaim, considering their well-educated background. Apart from this, the very serious topic and the fact that the pace drops on few occasions might not go well with a section of the audience.
The film pleasantly surprises by the portrayal of some scenic locations, especially the Konkan. Govind Nihalani’s artistic camerawork is responsible for this. He has also shown his class in capturing simplest of scenes creatively. His first outing in Marathi cinema is surely successful. Music wise, Ahire’s soulful compositions go well with the subject and are nicely used in the background. The background music too is apt.
Some performances force you to stand up and applaud. Vikram Gokhale’s act also compels you to do the same. His brilliant portrayal of a struggling senior citizen will move even a stone-hearted person. It isn’t a surprise that he won the National Award for this act. Neena Kulkarni plays her part very well too. For a good amount of screen time, she is just lying down but to stay still with the hospital equipment on, needs a lot of patience.
Rima (Lagoo) is simply brilliant! You easily fall in love with her character. Subodh Bhave and Kishore Kadam get it right once again. Saie Tamhankar shows perfect support. Playing cameos, Neha Pendse is effective while Arun Nalawade brilliant.
Overall, Anumati is an honestly made moving saga that deserves to be seen. The film needs some rapid word-of-mouth to succeed at the box office.
By: Keyur Seta
Director: Mahesh Kothare
Producers: Kothare & Kothare Vision, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Moving Pictures
Writer: Mahesh Kothare
Cast: Adinath Kothare, Mahesh Kothare, Sonalee Kulkarni, Sai Tamhankar, Makrand Anaspure
Music: Avdhoot Gupte
Genre: Horror/ Comedy
Rating: * *
(Review taken from the website HALTI CHITRE.)
Story Outline: At the end of the first movie Zapatlela (1993), Tatya Vinchu (whose soul was inside the puppet) gets killed by Inspector Mahesh Jadhav (Mahesh Kothare) while his henchman Kubdya Khavis gets arrested. Twenty years later, Khavis runs away from prison and lays his hands on the puppet that had Tatya Vinchu’s soul.
He visits Baba Chamatkar and forces him to bring Tatya back to life. Although Baba refuses, circumstances make sure Tatya regains his life inside the puppet. After twenty long years, Tatya finally gets the license to create havoc, especially for the late Lakshya’s (Laxmikant Berde) son Aditya (Adinath Kothare).
Review: (TO READ THE REVIEW, PLEASE CLICK HERE.)
By: Keyur Seta
Director: Satish Manwar
Producers: IME Motion Pictures and Sprint Art Creations Pvt. Ltd.
Writer: Satish Manwar
Cast: Upendra Limaye, Vibhawari Deshpande, Kishor Kadam, Suhas Palshikar, Suhas Shirsat, Gauri Konge
Music: Dattaprasad Ranade
Rating: * * * *
Story Outline: Kavudu (Upendra Limaye) lives a tribal life with his wife Bhulabai (Vibhawari Deshpande) and two children near a tiger sanctuary in the interiors of Maharashtra. After their already struggling life goes through another bad turn, Bhulabai has no option but to convert to Christianity. The film focuses on the consequences of the conversion.
Review: A character in Satish Manwar’s Tuhya Dharma Koncha? is once heard saying, “Our survival is more important that our religion and name.” The movie gives this bold message in such a realistically fearless yet enchanting manner that one is forced to stand up and applaud. In fact, Tuhya Dharma Koncha? is a high quality celluloid experience in all aspects that has the potential to please audiences world over.
Thankfully, the film doesn’t aim to be a tear-jerker about the tragic struggle of a tribal family. The focus is completely kept on how struggle for survival forces someone to happily change their religion or God. The issue of religious extremism is also portrayed in a bold manner. What makes the film special is how beautifully the visual medium is used to put forth the message rather than using any kind of dramatic dialogues.
As a writer and director, Mawar easily succeeds in getting us involved with the family’s tribal life without making the proceedings appear as a docu-drama whatsoever. Even the simplest of everyday scenes are presented in a manner that will amuse you. This ensures that you instantly feel for the characters and their decision to convert. The story flow is maintained perfectly with the important issue of conversion being introduced and developed in an intelligent manner.
There is always a danger of the writer or director going overboard with the consequences of such an act in such genre of films but fortunately that doesn’t happen here. That part is portrayed in a sensible yet mature manner which stops the proceedings from going chaotic or loud. But it is the climax that takes the cake for it delights you for the daring message it gives in such a simple yet most appealing manner.
There does come a moment in the second half where the film shows signs to become a drag. This is also felt during a song on Jesus which should have been shortened. But since that doesn’t happen for a longer period, it won’t bother you, especially after the final culmination. All in all, after Gabhricha Paus, Manwar has again given a loud message that he is here to stay.
What further gives an international feel to the film is the artistic camerawork (Parixit Warrier) and an impressive background score (Augustine Samuel). Perfect art direction (Ranjeet Desai) and costume designing (Geeta Godbole) help in adding realism. The taut editing also needs to be lauded. Dattaprasad Ranade composed tracks suit the subject. The song ‘Ravavani Lanka’ deserves special mention, also for the lyrics.
In a performance-oriented film, the actors rise to the occasion. Upendra Limaye once again proves himself as one of the top performers in the Marathi film arena by giving a realistically mature act. Vibhwari Deshpande is simply outstanding! The way she gets every nuance right in a difficult role speaks volumes about her talent.
Kishor Kadam shines as a Catholic Priest. Some earnest support is provided by Gouri Konge, Yash Sutar, Suhas Palshikar, Sneha Majgaonkar, Shashank Shende, Padmanabh Bind, etc.
Overall, Tuhya Dharma Koncha? is a superlative realistic saga that deserves to be seen by all. Due to the low hype, there film is in desperate need of positive word-of-mouth to have an impact at the box office.
Director: Avdhoot Gupte
Producers: Ekvira Productions, A Square Entertainment and Black Gold Films
Writer: Avdhoot Gupte
Cast: Abhijeet Khandkekar, Prarthana Behere, Vikram Gokhale
Music: Avdhoot Gupte
Rating: * * ½
Story Outline: In order to prove to someone that a Marathi person can be a successful businessman outside Maharashtra and Maharashtrian food can impress even non-Maharashtrians, Sayaji Nimbalkar (Abhijeet Khandkekar) starts a dhaba in Bhatinda (Punjab) named Jai Maharashtra Dhaba, Bhatinda.
Within a year, his dhaba crosses great levels of success as the Maharashtrian cuisine makes the local Punjabis go crazy. In the meantime, Sayaji also falls for a Punjabi girl Jaspinder Kaur (Prarthana Behere). But is the couple destined to be together?
Review: Avdhoot Gupte’s unique idea of mixing Maharashtrian and Punjabi culture with the use of food in Jai Maharashtra Dhaba, Bhatinda should be lauded for it gives rise to a number of smile-producing moments. But the overall satisfaction derived from the dish isn’t as mouth-watering as expected due to a not-so-perfect writing among other things.
From the positives, the film hits bulls-eye right at the start in mixing the two cultures with the song ‘Bolato Jithe Chaughada’. Likewise, the rest of the songs are also a very intelligent blend of Marathi and Punjabi music which is a remarkable achievement by Nilesh Moharir. Narration-wise, the first half makes for a decent watch, mostly due to some scenes between the lead pair and Sayaji’s warm relationship with the locals of Bhatinda. The short length of this part works well too.
Now, onto some flipsides. The very vital moment of the protagonist seeing the leading lady for the first time and falling in love doesn’t appeal much since he behaves more like a flirt than a lover boy. There is also a lack of proper aim or focus in the second half due to few sub-plots, including the forceful humorous track of Sayaji’s sardar friend. The pro-Marathi heroic dialogues don’t produce the kind of impact that was needed. Lastly, the all-important twist, although unpredictable and heart-warming, doesn’t convince entirely.
The film also doesn’t appear like a love story between a Mahrashtrian and a Punjabi because firstly, Behere doesn’t look like a Punjabi. And since we have seen her in Marathi serials and the fact that in the movie she is shown as someone speaking Marathi flawlessly also doesn’t help.
As mentioned above, the fusion music is one of the biggest strong points with all songs making a mark. The technical areas (cinematography, background score and editing) are praiseworthy too.
The performances of the debutant lead pair add to the plus points. Abhijeet Khandkekar succeeds in the difficult task of playing a tough guy and a lover boy simultaneously in his first film. Prarthana Behere also displays the acting skills and cuteness needed by her character. But there is still scope for improvement for both.
Although the sardar actor playing Abhijeet’s friend provides some laughter, he is over-the-top on a number of occasions. Veteran actor Vikram Gokhale plays his part well but he doesn’t get much scope. The rest of the supporting actors are adequate.
Overall, Jai Maharashtra Dhaba, Bhatinda can be seen only because of the fusion of Marathi and Punjabi culture. It requires some rapid word-of-mouth to succeed at the box office.
Director: Tejas Vijay Deoskar
Producers: S K Production Films and Sandesh Films International
Writers: Tejas Vijay Deoskar
Cast: Sandeep Kulkarni, Kadambari Kadam, Sarika Nilatkar
Music: Susmit Limaye
Rating: * * *
Story Outline: For Basketball coach Anant Dharmadhikar (Sandeep Kulkarni), winning is everything. But his intense passion for Basketball and a sharp ego separate him not only from his wife Sai (Kadambari Kadam), who is highly successful in the corporate world, but also from the game itself. Amidst such dire consequences, will Anant find a ray of hope?
Review: Winning is the ultimate motto for any team playing whichever sport. But in the midst of winning all the time and maintaining the number one spot, we often forget to enjoy the game both on and off the field. With the use of a story of an egoistic coach, Tejas Vijay Deoskar succeeds in giving this message in Ajinkya in a heartwarming manner. Although the film doesn’t provide as much impact in few portions as needed, the realistic portrayal of the life of a coach and the simplicity make sure it’s worth watching.
The narration is intelligent in the first half. The main point of the story and the character definition of Anant is established right at the start. The way the background is narrated by using flashback in between deserves applause. There is realism induced in every situation which makes the audience feel for the characters. Anant’s interaction with his wife’s friend and his wife after separation deserve special mention. Even his struggle to keep himself away from Basketball is smartly shown without using dialogues, especially in the cupboard shifting scene.
It is the second half which stops the film from becoming superlative. From the start of this part till the climax, there isn’t any real conflict and unpredictability. The story and the message should have been exploited more to create a much bigger impact. It is also in this period that the pace drops a bit. But due to Anant’s subtle return to the game, his change in outlook and a moving climax, you leave the cinema hall with a smile.
In a film where a sport plays an important part, there is a danger of the makers getting carried away by it. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen here. The game of Basketball is used only as per the need. It is also shot in a manner which makes it appealing even to those who aren’t interested in the sport.
The film has received apt support from the cinematography and editing. Although the background music suits the need, there are a lot of portions where they have simply not used it at all! Music wise, ‘Theme of Ajinkya’ and ‘Jari Maza Tuza’ are the tracks that go well with the situations.
Performances are a big plus point. Sandeep Kulkarni perfectly gets into the skin of a tough coach and delivers a top notch performance. He shows his talent in the emotional scenes too. His act is largely responsible for making you feel for his character and the story. Kadambari Kadam is also thoroughly mature as his wife. Sarika Nilatkar provides perfect support while the rest of the actors play their part well.
Overall, Ajinkya doesn’t win by 25 points (as said in the film) but it wins nevertheless. Due to the average hype, it needs some terrific word-of-mouth to succeed at the box-office.
(Personal Note: Recently, me and my friend had the privilege of having a long conversation with a tennis coach. He revealed about his coaching techniques and how his profession has badly affected his personal life. Whatever he told us, matched exactly with Sandeep Kulkarni’s character and his situation in the movie.)
Direction: Ravi Jadhav
Producers: Ravi Jadhav Films, Viva In-En and Mumbai Film Company
Writers: Ravi Jadhav, Ambar Hadap, Ganesh Pandit and Guru Jadhav
Cast: Rohit Phalke, Bhagyashree Sankpal, Shahwati Pimplikar, Madan Deodhar, Kishore Kadam, Prathamesh Parab, Sai Tamhankar, Anand Ingle
Rating: * * * *
Story Outline: The story takes place in the 1980s when Avya (Rohit Phalke), Bhagya (Madan Deodhar), Dolly (Shahwati Pimplikar) and Chiu (Bhagyashree Sankpal) are close teenage friends living in the same chawl. Circumstances and their school friend Vishu (Prathamesh Parab) introduce them to the world of sex through porn books and blue films (BP). But is this the right method of getting enlightened about sex? What would happen if the elders of their chawl find out about their secret activity?
Review: In most Indian families, it is almost impossible for children to talk about sex openly with their parents since the topic is considered a taboo. Due to this, naturally, they receive half or false knowledge about it from their friends. Ravi Jadhav’s BP (BALAK PALAK) gives a bold message that instead of children or teenagers getting a wrong notion about sex from unreliable or harmful sources, it is better that the parents themselves enlighten them about the curious phenomenon. Jadhav comes out as a winner by putting forth the point without being vulgar or cheap. But what makes the film further special is the fact that he has narrated the tale like a laugh riot throughout!
While dealing with such a sensitive subject, it is extremely vital for the writers to achieve utmost perfection. This is exactly what Jadhav, Ambar Hadap and Ganesh Pandit have done. They have encountered the very difficult task of narrating a curious tale about sex without making it look offensive whatsoever. Even the jokes or one-liners about sex are innocent than anything else. Since they are aplenty, there is nonstop entertainment!
The narration is smooth flowing yet very fast with a smart use of flashback. The introduction of the topic of sex through the proverb Shen Khane (eating cow dung) is an intelligent idea. Talking about intelligence, it is also seen in abundance in the dialogues, both funny and serious ones. Jadhav has also highly succeeded in getting top notch performances from his young cast. This greatly helps in generating great chemistry between the four friends.
Coming to the negative points, there is a moment in the pre-climax portion where the story appears stretched, especially due to the inclusion of a song. But this doesn’t cause any problems as such due to a greatly moving climax. Apart from this, the nature of the subject doesn’t ensure much of a repeat value.
Perfection is also seen in Mahesh Limaye’s cinematography and Dilip More and Santosh Phutane’s art direction. The editing is perfect while the background music (Chinar-Mahesh) is effective. From Vishal-Shekhar’s music, ‘Karuya Danga’ is a well composed, peppy number that stays with you.
The film is blessed with excellent performances. Rohit Phalke, Madan Deodhar, Shahwati Pimplikar, Bhagyashree Sankpal and Prathamesh Parab are flawless and mature in their respective acts. It’s a pleasure to see them perform! Kishore Kadam is wonderful in a difficult role. Sai Tamhankar provides perfect support while Anand Ingle, Avinash Narkar, Vishaka Subedar and Supriya Pathare play their parts well. Subodh Bhave and Amruta Subhash shine in their cameos.
Overall, BP (Balak Palak) succeeds in dealing with a sensitive issue in a non-offensive and entertaining manner. The film is sure to earn accolades at the box office due to a positive response. It has a good two week period to earn before Pune 52 and Hou De Jarasa Ushir release on January 18.
Direction: Sandesh Kulkarni
Production: Umesh Kulkarni and Girish Kulkarni for Aarbhat Nirmiti, Pravin Masale
Story: Girish Kulkarni
Screenplay: Girish Kulkarni
Cast: Girish Kulkarni, Amruta Subhash, Mohan Agashe, Hrishikesh Joshi, Sneha Majgaonkar, Dilip Prabhavalkar
Music: Anand Modak
Rating: * * * ½
Plot: Revan (Girish Kulkarni) tries out a number of businesses but fails to find success in any. Due to this, he is forced to live a nomadic life in order to escape his creditors. Being an obedient wife, Sarika (Amruta Subhash) agrees with whatever her husband decides. Circumstances land the couple in Solapur, which is the hometown of Sarika’s cousin Kalyan (Hrishikesh Joshi).
Revan and Kalyan decide to join hands and start a business of selling groundnuts. Will Revan finally achieve success?
Review: Starting a business and running it successfully are two different things altogether. But if you keep your passion alive and learn from your mistakes, even fate will be forced to come by your side. This phenomenon is presented in Sandesh Kulkarni’s Masala in a light hearted manner that produces plenty of smiles.
As a writer, Girish Kulkarni continues from where he left in Deool (2011). He presents another subtle rural script that doesn’t go overboard and involves the audience right from the onset. Although there is not much romance shown between the lead couple, the interactions and actions between them clearly indicate the deep love they share hence making the audience feel for them.
Apart from this what keeps you entertained and provides humour is the inclusion of some interesting characters and incidents. The writer and director’s (Sandesh Kulkarni) efforts are seen in the realism that is oozed from the proceedings in terms of the conversations and truly realistic performances. Things do become a bit slow in the latter part of the second half. However, the climax makes up for it as the conclusion of the tale will move as well as delight you.
Top-notch effort is shown by M H Ramachandran as a cinematographer. A single take scene where Revan and Kalyan ride a bicycle together deserves special mention. Narendra Bhide’s background score is apt. Although there is not much scope for music, songs ‘Yan Madti’ and the title track go well with the film.
Girish Kulkarni gets into the skin of his character wonderfully. His portrayal of Revan is sure to fetch him lots of appreciation. Amruta Subhash deserves similar applause for playing Revan’s wife with realism. Mohan Agashe (as businessman Mehta) and Dilip Prabhavalkar (as a scientist) once again prove why they are respected names in Marathi cinema.
Hrishikesh Joshi and Sneha Majgaonkar play their part well while Dr Shreeram Lagoo excels in a cameo. Jyoti Subhash offers good support.
In a nutshell, Masala acts as a breath of fresh air that will be appreciated by the lovers of meaningful cinema. The movie has a chance of clicking at the box-office.
Direction: Rajesh Pinjani
Production: Neeta Jadhav, Rajesh Pinjani
Cast: Mitalee Jagtap Varadkar, Vivek Chabukswar, Milind Shinde
Music: Rohit Nagbhide
Rating: * * *
Plot: Jaggu (Milind Shinde) is a member of a local band in a remote village in Maharashtra. He wants his son Baboo aka Babya (Vivek Chabukswar) to join the same profession. However, Baboo's mother and Jaggu's wife Shirmi (Mitali Jagtap Vardkar) is determined to educate her child so that he can enter a more respectable profession. Will Shirmi succeed in her noble task or will Baboo too end up being a band baja wala?
Review: Not-so-long-ago, Amit Abhyankar’s Jana Gana Mana (2012) gave an important message that every child has a right to education irrespective of his social class. The same message is put forth in Rajesh Pinjani’s debut flick Baboo Band Baja, although in a different way. Like Abhyankar, Pinjani too succeeds in spreading the message with honesty. But one has to add that the product is more feasible for the classes, especially due of the climax.
The story hardly moves forward in the first half but the interesting sequences, conversations and confrontations and most importantly, the direction makes sure your interest is very much alive. In fact, it works well here as you become absorbed in the rural mood of the flick and even start feeling for the characters. The same absorption is continued even in the post-interval sequences, although things continue to go at the same pace.
(Review continued after picture.)
Some appealing events nicely lead up to the pre-climax portion. However, it would have been much better and pleasant if the pre-climax had been the climax. A twist after the pre-climax which is followed by a startling incident could have been avoided. This would have also made sure the film gets mass acceptance. But having said this, the makers surely deserve applause for the message given.
Rohit Nagbhide’s songs are apt for the subject and so is the background score. The cinematography is applause-worthy as it beautifully captures the remote village. The editing should have been tighter, especially in the funeral scenes.
Mitalee Jagtap Varadkar gets into the skin of her character with such mastery that it is difficult to believe that she is putting on an act for a movie. It isn’t surprising that she won a National Award for the performance. Milind Shinde moulds himself perfectly to play Jaggu. He gives a terrific act too.
A difficult character is played by ease by child actor Vivek Chabukswar. The actor deserves a lot of applause as it could have been a daunting task for any kid. He too rightfully deserves a National Award for the act. The surprise package is the actress who played the mad woman. She is outstanding!
Overall, Baboo Band Baja will please those who prefer off-beat cinema. The film is in desperate need of positive word-of-mouth. The fact that it is released with four other Marathi movies will surely affect its chances at the box-office.