The Common Man Speaks


Shani Shingnapur Row: Why India needs your support ASAP to fight against sexist bigots?

By: Keyur Seta

The Republic Day marks the celebration of the Constitution of India. The Constitution grants equal rights to each and every citizen of the country. Ironically, on the very day, when the country was celebrating its constitutional rights, a group of women were not only meted out unconstitutional treatment but were also treated like criminals, when all they wanted was to enter a temple.

Women weren’t allowed anywhere inside the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra until 2011 when a number of rationalists like the Late Narendra Dabholkar made valiant efforts and protests. However, they still haven’t been granted access to the core shrine till today. Only men are allowed to enter the shrine and as women are considered ‘impure’.

Circa January 2016. A group of few hundred women, led by Bhumata Ranragini Brigade, decide to challenge regressive sexist practices by trying to enter the inner sanctorum. What happened was utterly shameful. They were forcefully stopped and, at times, beaten by the police. A large group of women from a so-called Hindu organizations also turned up to stop them. The protestors were not even allowed anywhere near the vicinity of the temple. In fact, they were stopped 70 kilometers away!



The behavior of fringe elements is expected because this is what they are actually. But one doesn't expect our authorities to be on the side of those indulging in unconstitutional and unlawful activities. Mind you, there is no law that prohibits women or any human being from entering any place of worship.

Therefore, although it was quite heartening to see Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis visiting the site, it was disappointing that he only gave assurances and didn’t do anything to open the gates for women. As mentioned above, no law supports this practice. So, where is the issue? Why didn’t he use the police force in protecting the women from the misogynistic bigots who aren’t letting them enter?

But thankfully, these women haven’t given up, which has ensured that the movement is spreading slowly but steadily. Now, groups of women have also started protesting outside Sabarimala Temple and Mumbai’s Haji Ali Dargah. For those who aren’t aware, women aren’t allowed inside the inner sanctorums at these two places too.

The fact that women have united across religious lines is a strong message to the thekedars of religion. These evil forces should be told that no religious book has ever spoken about stopping women from entering any place of worship and that no God has appointed them as thekedars of any religion. But in case such theories are found in some ‘religious’ books, they should still be discarded. India follows the Constitution, not any regressive ‘religious’ book.

But for the movement to succeed, it is absolutely vital for people across gender, religious and class lines to extend support. This has to become something as big as the 2011 Anna Hazare Movement. However, practically speaking, for a majority of us, including me, it is next to impossible to physically be present at the sites of protest due to our work commitments.

But this is where the power of blogging and social media comes into place. In today’s day and age, governments and authorities have become aware about the voices on the internet. Message them, tag them, email them and use various other options on the internet, but make sure you put across your message. Use the hashtag #RightToPray

The issue is not just limited to these few places of worship. It’s a fight against patriarchy and sexism in the name of religion, which have ruled our society for thousands of years. This is a major opportunity to kick such ideas and kick them hard. Don’t let the movement go wasted. It’s 2016, for God’s sake!



Shaktidaai Drishya (Poem based on Airlift’s flag scene)

The flag scene in director Raja Krishna Menon and actor Akshay Kumar's Airlift is having a profoundly heartwarming effect on the audience. It is a non-verbal sequence that speaks more than a thousand years. Here is a poem based on the scene on the occasion of India's Republic Day.


Shaktidaai Drishya (title)

By: Keyur Seta


Picture: Still from YouTube

Picture: Still from YouTube

Ummeed na thi manzil paane ki,
Na thi taakat kadam badhane ki,
Namumkin tha shikhar tak pohochna,
Ab toh naseeb ko hi tha kosna,

Khada tha main thaka hua,
Baadhaaon ke saamne hara hua,
Aanthon dishaon se jhele vaar,
Ab tha kewal ant ka intezar,

Par hawa ne ekaek rukh badla,
Shakti ka swar hriday se nikla,
Durbalta ke baadal hue adrishya,
Aisa tha woh shaktidaai drishya,

Kadmo mein nayi jaan aai thi,
Ab toh manzil door nahin thi,
Veerta ki hai woh behti Ganga,
Saadhaaran nahin apna tiranga


Airlift Review

Director: Raja Krishna Menon

Producers: Hari Om Productions, Cape of Good Films, T-Series and Crouching Tiger Motion Pictures

Writers: Vijay Krishna Menon

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Nimrat Kaur, Kumud Mishra, Inamulhaq

Music: Amaal Malik and Ankit Tiwari

Genre: Drama/ Thrillers

Rating: * * * *

Review By: Keyur Seta

Akshay Kumar was once known as the king of whacky comedies. But over the last couple of years, he has been associating himself with thought-provoking patriotic sagas like Holiday, Gabbar Is Back and Baby. He continues his impressive run with Airlift. To put it simply, it is an overwhelmingly brilliant piece of cinema, which lifts you in a way very few films can.

The story takes place in Kuwait in the year 1990. Ranjit Katiyal (Akshay Kumar), an NRI, is a shrewd businessman living a luxurious life with his wife Amrita (Nimrat Kaur) and a child. He considers himself a true Kuwaiti and hates being referred to as an Indian. But after Iraq, in the leadership of Saddam Hussain, invades Kuwait, life suddenly turns upside down for Rajiv and the 1 lakh 70 thousand ‘Indians’ working in the country.

Picture: Airlift Facebook page

Picture: Airlift Facebook page

Firstly, the makers should be lauded for throwing light on this unthinkable achievement of the biggest evacuation ever in the world! It is quite a shame that many of us are completely unaware of such a feat, but let’s not go into that for now.

But good intentions alone aren’t enough to make a good film. To say that Airlift has more than just good intentions will be an understatement since the film excels in every department. The script and Menon’s direction deserves special mention. In a situational-based film, the onus is more on the narration and presentation and one can find utmost precision in both departments. The result is a gripping narrative that doesn’t let you look at your watch throughout.

The biggest triumph for Airlift, however, is the profoundly heartwarming climax. It develops an intensely emotional patriotic feeling without any use of powerful dialogues or punch lines. The effect is the highest when visuals alone do the talking, is proven here. Plus, the final moments throw in quite a few messages, which, once again, aren’t spoken about.

There are a few weaklings though. Two important plot twists, one at the start and other at the end, aren’t explored the way they should have. Thankfully, these issues aren’t glaring at all.

The subject doesn't offer much scope for music. But the tracks manage to impress. The ‘Vande Mataram’ song surely stands out and becomes an important reason for the climax triggering the desired effect.

There is some high quality work from the technical departments too – Priya Seth’s camerawork, background score, editing as well as production design.

Now, onto the performances. This is yet another film that proves that Akshay Kumar is no longer limited to being a superstar or an entertainer. He has now become a fine artist. The way in which he puts his heart into the character and his decision to select this film will increase the number of his admirers abundantly. This one is easily one of his best acts.

After The Lunchbox, Nimrat Kaur once again displays her talent. An actor like her surely deserves to be seen more. The same can be said about Inamulhaq (of Filmistaan fame), who is impressive as a comical Iraqi Major. Kumud Mishra once again succeeds in giving a mature act. There are convincing performances from a host of supporting actors – Purab Kohli, Prakash Belawadi, Ferena Wazeir and Ninad Kamat, to name a few.

Overall: Airlift is an overwhelming patriotic saga and one of Akshay Kumar’s best films. It has had a decent box-office opening by earning Rs 12.35 crore on its first day. But it depends on positive word-of-mouth to make a major impact at the box-office.

Picture: Airlift Facebook page

Picture: Airlift Facebook page


Natsamrat Dialogues

Nana Patekar is gaining tremendous applause for his act in and as Natsamrat and rightly so. But we can't deny the role of V V Shirvadka aka Kusumagraj (original play) Kiran Yadnyopavit and Abhijeet Deshpande's richly creative dialogues in helping this Mahesh Manjrekar film reach such a high level.

Here is a list of some applaud-worthy dialogues from Natsamrat:

- To be or not to be, that is the question. Jagava ki marava, ha ekach sawaal aahe.

- Pratishtha mhanje ek bhaakad oza. Kadhi yogyata nastana milta. Kadhi chook nastana nighun jaata.

- Kuni ghar deta ka? Ghar? Eka toofanala kuni ghar deta ka? Ek toofan bhinti vaachun, chhapra vaachun, manasachya maye vachun, devacha daye vachun, dongra-dongrat hindta aahe. Jithun kuni uthavnar naahin ashi jaga dhoondta aahe. Kuni ghar deta ka re? Ghar?

Picture: Natsamrat Facebook page

Picture: Natsamrat Facebook page

- Tu nat mhanun bhikarda aahesach. Pan tu maanus mhanun suddha salya neech aahes.

- I kissed him. You are jealous.

- Whisky? Oh that is phuski...

- Vidhata, tu itka kathor ka zalas? Eka bajula jyanna aamhi jamna dila tya aahmala visartaat. Aani dusrya bajula jyani aahmala janma dila toh tu hi aahmala visarto. Mag viskatlelya hadanche he saapde gheune karuna kara, aahmi  therdyani kunacha payavar doka aadhlaycha re?

- Naahin, raagavun kay faayda aahe? Aani radnaar suddha naahin. Mazya dolyat asva jama hovayla laagli tar khi... khi... khile maarun khacha karun taakin pan hya adhai samor mee radnaar naahi.

- Aahmala vaat ta aamhi aai zalo, baap zalo. Khara tar aamhi kunich zalelo nasto. Aamhi fakta jine asto jine.

- Sur mhanto saath de. Diva mhanto vaat de. Unhamadhlya mhataryala fakta tuza haath de.

- Door vha! Door vha, sagla nirarthak aahe. Jo aaplya jaagi thaam pane ubha aahe toh mee aahe. Julius Caesar. Mee aahe Prataprao. Mee Othello. Sudhakar aani Hamlet aani Ganpat Ramchandra Belvalkar, Natsamrat.



Natsamrat Review

Director: Mahesh Manjrekar

Producers: Great Maratha Entertainment, Zee Studios, Fincraft Media and Gajanan Chitra

Writers: V V Shirvadkar aka Kusumagraj (original play), Kiran Yadnyopavit, Mahesh Manjrekar and Abhijeet Deshpande

Cast: Nana Patekar, Medha Manjrekar, Vikram Gokhale, Mrunmayee Deshpande, Sunil Barve

Music: Ajit Parab

Genre: Drama

Rating: * * * * ½

Review By: Keyur Seta

There were expectations aplenty from Mahesh Manjrekar's Natasamrat. But the film doesn’t rise up to the excitement. It, in fact, rises a bit above! The Nana Patekar-starrer is a masterpiece. Read further to know why.

Natsamrat is an adaptation of Kusumagraj’s classic Marathi play of the same name, which was first enacted by Shreeram Lagoo. The story follows Ganpatrao Belwalkar (Nana Patekar), a retired Shakespearean theatre actor, who is given the title ‘Natsamrat’ for his stupendous work in the field of theatre. He is internally strong but at the same time, emotional and has a great sense of humor.

Belwakar looks forward to living a peaceful retired life with his loving wife (Medha Manjrekar) and best friend and fellow retired actor Ram Abhyankar (Vikram Gokhale). However, his world, slowly but surely, turns topsy-turvy due to his own family members. How will the King of actors face the stage of life now?



As far as the screenplay is concerned, it would be an understatement to say that Manjrekar, Abhijeet Deshpande and Kiran Yadnyopavit have succeeded in adapting. They have achieved excellence through some mature way of storytelling. To top this, there are some amazingly creative dialogues (in addition to the original ones). And when they are mouthed by Nana Patekar, you just sit in awe. There are a series of scenes that stay etched in your memory. Patekar’s act in the climax and his hospital scene with Vikram Gokhale are two such.

Although theatre and cinema are story-telling mediums, they share some major differences. And in the case of Natsamrat, there is also a wide time gap. So, the film has some glaring changes in the script, situations and a few character traits. The film caters to the modern or contemporary audience but also manages to retain the original flavor. This is something very challenging.

Now, the most difficult task, which is to describe Nana Patekar's performance. The veteran artist deserves a standing ovation for full 5 minutes for this act. He just melts your heart on various occasions throughout the film. At the same time, his comic timing is perfect too. The film wouldn't have achieved such a result without his masterly performance.

But that is not all. The film has some remarkable performances from Vikram Gokhale and Medha Manjrekar too. A fine act from Mrunmayee Deshpande also deserves praise. Ajit Parab, Neha Pendse, Sunil Barve, Jayant Wadhkar, Nilesh Diwekar and others too provide good support.

It is difficult to find any major flaws here. There are some minor issues related to few situations. But they are overshadowed by the terrific impact. Ajit Parab’s music is soulful and is used wisely. Ajith V Reddy’s artistic camerawork also has a big share in the plusses.

Overall: Natsamrat is one of the best Marathi films of this era, helped by a magical act from Nana Patekar. The film is all set to create box office records through some mammoth collections.