Director Mahesh Manjrekar’s Bhaai: Vyakti Kee Valli, the biopic on the legendary artist Purushottam Laxman Deshpande aka Pu La Deshpande, is released in two parts in a span of about a month. It is not often that you see this in India. Ram Gopal Varma’s Rakht Charitra (2011) and Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs Of Wasseypur (2012) are the only recent names to emerge in memory.
The Purvardha or the first part concentrated on the happy-go-lucky Deshpande’s (Sagar Deshmukh) commencement as a literary figure, theatre personality, music composer and his second marriage with Sunita Bai (Iravati Harshe).
The Uttarardha or the second part is about the events that take place in his life after he becomes not only an established artist but also an icon of Maharashtra. Hence, aspects like his social work (with Baba Amte) and political stints also get a mention here.
To put it simply, the second part of Bhaai continues the good work of its predecessor. This doesn’t come as a surprise after having enjoyed the first part. The journey picks up from the time Deshpande starts his one act play Batatyachi Chaal, which later goes onto become historic.
Just like the first part, we are presented with a compilation of important and relevant events revolving around the protagonist in a thoroughly light-hearted manner. Of course, the second part has more emotional moments, especially since it covers Deshpande’s ailing health that led to his death. But the feel and mood remains the same.
In an important sequence, fellow literary great Vijay Tendulkar is seen urging Deshpande to start mirroring the stark realities of society in his work. But he politely refuses saying he just wants to make people happy. This ideology of his is seen in the narrative of the film again.
Deshpande’s relationship with his close ones is one of the highlights of the film. His unusual yet strong bond with his wife Sunita is one of the most sensible portrayals of a married couple in a long time. His friendship with fellow artists like G D Madgulkar, Vasant Kanetkar, Bhimsen Joshi and Kumargandharva reaches another level during the classical mehfil. The opening credits song ‘Indrayani Kathi,’ written by Deshpande and sung by Joshi, is also a pleasure to the ears.
The film also touches the sensitive political side of Pu La’s story. After supporting the Janata Party during its opposition to the Emergency, Deshpande warns of speaking against them after they gain power in case they turn out to be the same as the previous government. Later, Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray (Sarang Sathaye) gets offended when Pu La criticizes one of his statements despite accepting an award from his government.
The execution of the aforementioned incidents is sensible and mature and at the same time doesn’t let the film move out of the entertaining zone.
One might argue or feel that any story should have a definite aim for the protagonist, which is missing here. But such conventional storytelling isn’t possible in this story simply because Pu La never planned anything in life and just went with the flow, one incident at a time.
The narrative does threaten to suffer at one point in the second half, especially when the character Barkya (Girish Kulkarni) turns up and displays his antics. This is the only questionable moment in the film.
The main cast continues its good work from the first part. Sagar Deshmukh shows the same consistency while exploring the latter period of Deshpande’s life. He once again thoroughly lives the character. The same goes for Iravati Harshe’s mature and high quality act as his wife.
Shubhangi Damle also gets a good amount of footage as the older Sunita Bai and she is phenomenal. Vijay Kenkre also does justice to the older Deshpande. Sarang Sathaye stays firm in your memory with his convincing act as Thackeray despite having just two scenes.
Overall: Bhaai: Vyakti Kee Valli Purvardha (Part 2) gives an impressive end to the life story of one of Maharashtra’s most loved personalities.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Review by: Keyur Seta
Director: Mahesh Manjrekar
Producers: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Mahesh Manjrekar Movies
Writers: Ganesh Matkari and Ratnakar Matkari
Cast: Sagar Deshmukh, Iravati Harshe, Shubhangi Damle, Vijay Kenkre
Music: Ajit Parab
Genre: Biopic/ Drama
Duration: 130 minutes