Director: Sachin Baliram Nagargoje
Producers: Sachin Baliram Nagargoje and Hemant Bhailal Bhavsar
Writers: Rabindranath Tagore (original story) and Sachin Baliram Nagargoje
Cast: Veena Jamkar, Kashyap Parulekar, Neena Kulkarni, Shruti Marathe, Ambarish Deshpande
Music: Sumeet Bellari and Rohit Nagbhide
Rating: * * ½
By: Keyur Seta
Story Outline: Based on Rabindranath Tagore’s short story, the film is set during the pre-independence era in Maharashtra. Meera has been staying with her aunt (Ashwini Ekbote) and uncle (Sharad Ponkshe) ever since her mother passed away when she was six years old. Over there, Meera develops a close bond with her cousin Madhav.
As they grow up (as Veena Jamkar and Kashyap Parulekar), their friendship slowly blossoms into love. When Madhav is studying to become a doctor, they get married. The couple is enjoying their marital bond until Meera has a miscarriage. There’s further agony in store for her when she becomes disabled. This results in another woman Sunanda (Shruti Marathe) entering Madhav’s life. Will Madhav betray Meera by marrying Sunanda?
Review: Adapting Rabindranath Tagore’s story on celluloid in a different cultural setting and that too in your first film is no mean task. Debutant Sachin Baliram Nagargoje does show signs of maturity in his adaptation of the legendary writer’s tale in his Marathi film Taptapadi. However, few problem areas stop the film from being superlative. Nevertheless, it is worth watching once due to Veena Jamkar’s outstanding act.
Although the story takes place in the very olden days of the pre-independence era, it is shot and narrated in a completely new age manner. As a writer, Nagargoje has used simple yet smart techniques to connect scenes and take the story forward. The important and delicate issue of Meera’s disability too is introduced and developed intelligently. Santosh Suvarnakar’s artistic camerawork is also something that makes the film a visual treat.
However, all is not hunky dory for Taptapadi. The film loses pace after a point in the second half. But there are two other questionable aspects that hurt the most. Firstly, the change of heart of an important character doesn’t appear convincing. You can’t ignore this point since it is an important development in the story. Lastly, although the twist at the very end takes you by surprise and appears pleasurable, it lacks proper logic and appears incomplete. It also brings back memories of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Parineeta.
Sumeet Bellari and Rohit Nagbhide composed songs are soulful and apt for the situations but a couple of songs affect the narration. The background score is as per the need.
Talking about the performances, it is Veena Jamkar all the way! She gets into the skin of a difficult character and produces a performance that is worthy of all the applause. In fact, this will be one of the talked about acts of her career. Kashyap Parulekar too plays his part perfectly. It’s just that he doesn’t appear a college student on few occasions.
Neena Kulkarni, as Madhav’s aunt, is excellent as the regressive and manipulative lady. You just love to hate her! Shruti Marathe fits the character well and gives a good performance. As Meera’s brother, Ambarish Deshpande is perfect as the revolutionary and a protective elder brother. Sharad Ponkshe and Ashwini Ekbote and the rest of the supporting actors offer decent support.
Overall: Taptapadi is a one-time watch, mostly due to Veena Jamkar.
Director: Shivaji Lotan Patil
Writers: Nitin Dixit and Shivaji Lotan Patil
Producer: Vishal Pandit Ganware for Jayashree Motion Pictures
Cast: Usha Jadhav, Upendra Limaye, Hansraj Jagtap, Neha Dakhinkar, Nagesh Bhosale
Rating: * * * *
By: Keyur Seta
Story Outline: Dhag tells the story of a poor family forced to take up their ancestral and caste-based profession of performing last rites. Hence, their livelihood depends on someone’s death. Despite his hatred towards the profession, Shripati (Upendra Limaye) has been forced to practice it all his life to fill his and his family’s stomachs.
But he doesn’t want his son Krishna (Hansraj Jagtap) to continue the disturbing legacy. Even Krishna is firm in saying a big no to the family occupation. Shripati’s wife (Usha Jadhav) is torn between her support for Krishna’s ambitions and their need to earn a livelihood. Shripati’s mother strictly believes they shouldn’t deviate from their ancestral profession.
Review: Death is considered extremely unpleasant in every society, quite naturally. So how would you feel if a family eagerly awaits someone’s death? Director Shivaji Lotan Patil has portrayed this bold feature in Dhag. But instead of providing a tragic and disturbing account of a family forced into an unpleasant profession, he presents a kind of cinema that is daring and honest in every aspect thereby making it a must watch for the lovers of sensible subjects.
It would have been a big challenge for writers and director to get the audience introduced to a lifestyle they would have hardly imagined. They fulfill the challenge and how! The viewer is made a part of the concerned family through a mixture of some high quality writing and presentation along with some excellent performances. The scenes where dark and shocking humor is born out due to the family’s profession deserve special mention.
Naturally, such a tale has its share of depressing moments but they don’t turn you off or withdraw the interest simply because you have gained sympathy for its characters right from the start. But Dhag becomes truly a winner only due to an interesting turn and, later on, its consequences, which lead to an appealing and moving climax. The only negative aspect one can find is that the subject is not for the entertainment-hungry audience.
The film can also boast of its technical brilliance. Nagraj M. Diwakar has shown his class while capturing the film. The background score succeeds in creating the desired effect, although it becomes too loud at times. Aasi Ramchandra’s music goes well with the theme.
The performances play a large role in making the film what it is. Usha Jadhav is simply outstanding. The way she gets into the skin of a difficult character with such perfection so early in her career is simply applaud-worthy. But despite such a powerful act, child actor Hansraj Jagtap manages to super-impress. He deserves all the accolades for pulling this act so perfectly.
As expected from a seasoned artist like Upendra Limaye, he gives another mature act. Nagesh Bhosale too is at his best in an unusual role. Suhani Deshpande, Neha Dakhinkar and the rest of the supporting actors play their parts well.
Overall: Dhag is a daring effort that deserves a watch. The film relies on word of mouth to have an impact at the box office.
Note: Dhag has won three National Awards for Best Director (Shivaji Lotan Patil), Best Actress (Usha Jadhav) and Best Child Actor (Hansraj Jagtap).