Direction: Chandrakant Kulkarni
Production: Sanjay Chhabria, Everest Films
Writer(s): Ajit Dalvi and Prashant Dalvi
Cast: Jitendra Joshi, Radhika Apte, Padmanabh Gaikwad, Veena Jamkar, Sharad Ponkshe, Prateeksha Lonar, Yatin Karekar
Music: Ashok Patki and Avdhoot Gupte
Rating: * * * *
Plot: The film is a biopic on the life of the great Sant Tukaram. As a child, Tukaram Bolhoba Ambile aka Tuka is different than other children with respect to intelligence and curiosity to know about almost everything around him. This enables him to assist his father in his money lending business at an early age. As his elder brother is unable to look after the business due to strange circumstances, Tukaram happily starts looking after his father’s business when he grows up.
But fate has something dark in store for him and his family when his parents pass away in quick succession. If this wasn’t enough, his village is hit by drought. Tukaram is moved by the plight of his family and villagers. These tragedies enlighten him on the true meaning of life and transform a mere money-lender into one of the greatest saints and poets the country has seen.
Review: When you think of a biopic based on a 17th Century saint and poet, chances are you will label it as a film for the classes or the older generation. However, filmmaker Chandrakant Kulkarni proves with Tukaram that even biopics can appeal to all sections of the audience.
But while he succeeds in making his latest offering masses-friendly, what makes the film special is the fact that he doesn’t compromise on the message and teachings of the great saint. This fact coupled by Jitendra Joshi’s mind-blowing performance makes Tukaram a must watch.
The runtime of the movie (162 minutes) might appear lengthy in today’s times but considering the large number of events in Tukaram’s life, it is totally justified. The intelligent script and dialogues (writers: Ajit Dalvi and Prashant Dalvi) keep boredom at bay. You get so engrossed in the simple life of Tukaram’s family that you fail to realize that the story has hardly moved forward in the initial portions. And as the story unfolds after that, you get further impressed by the writing.
(Review continued after picture.)
Even the tragic scenes are handled in a way that they don’t appear lethargic. Once Tukaram attains enlightenment and subsequently transforms into a saint, it gives rise to a number of scenes that move, delight as well as show the true meaning of life. The scenes where Tukaram rubbishes off something as inhuman as the caste system deserve special mention. Lastly, the makers also deserve full marks for creating a climax that delights you while highlighting the greatness of Sant Tukaram.
If one tries to find the flipsides, one can say that the family life of Tukaram, in the first half, could have been shortened which would have given extra time to focus on the protagonist when he becomes a saint.
Production design (Eknath Kadam), costumes (Poornima Oak) and make up (Vikram Gaikwad) successfully recreate the 17th Century era with realism. Rajan Kothari’s camerawork is a big factor for the film to look an impressive piece of art.
Abhangas were an important part of Sant Tukaram’s life and teachings. Due to this, music becomes an important part of the film’s narration. Ashok Patki and Avdhoot Gupte churn out praiseworthy songs and also recreate the classic abhangas perfectly. They play a vital role in creating an impact. ‘Jagnyacha Paya’ and ‘Sada Maze Dola’ are the ones that stand out.
It was absolutely important for Jitendra Joshi to provide a flawless act. He does exactly that as he brings Tukaram alive on screen by enacting different emotions with ease. Some performances become a talking point for years to come. This is one such performance. Padmanabh Gaikwad is also lovable as young Tukaram.
Radhika Apte does well playing the aggressive second wife of Tukaram. Although she is too loud at times, it was the requirement of the character. Actors playing the rest of the Ambile family Sharad Ponkshe, Pratiksha Lonar, Veena Jamkar, Vrushasen Dabholkar and Smita Tambe play their part perfectly. Yatin Karekar shines in a negative role. Apt support is provided by Vikas Patil, Madhav Abhyankar, Ravindra Mankani, etc.
Overall, Tukaram is remarkable in all departments making it a fitting tribute to the great saint. The film will be a winner at the box-office.