Director: Sujay S. Dahake
Producers: Supreme Motion Pictures Pvt. Ltd and Illusion Ethereal Film Company
Writers: Sujay S. Dahake and Gauri Bapat
Cast: Urmila Matondkar, Hrishikesh Joshi, Dilip Prabhavalkar, Shashank Shende,s Shrikant Yadav, Om Bhutkar, Neha Mahajan
Genre: Adventure/ Drama
Rating: * * * *
By: Keyur Seta
Story Outline: Ajoba is based on true events experienced by wildlife conservationist Vidya Athreya between the years 2009 and 2011. A leopard is found in a well in Junnar village in Maharashtra. Wildlife Biologist Purva Rao (Urmila Matondkar) gets the animal rescued with the help of forest department workers.
She fits an electronic chip at its tale and, as per the procedure, frees it. She names the animal Ajoba. The whole idea is to trace Ajoba’s journey in order to learn more about it and its thinking. Although the leopard is on a journey, Purva and his team are experiencing the adventure out of it.
Review: When a leopard enters a city and kills a man, naturally, the wild animal is labeled as the devil. But this is far from the actual fact. Such incidents have a much deeper meaning, which is explored by Sujay S. Dahake in Ajoba in a manner that would compel you to applaud not only his end product but also his act of bravery towards creating such bold genre of cinema.
Firstly, it can be a stressful nightmare for anyone to make a film on this subject. To create such an experience on screen not only requires painstaking patient efforts but also some great talent. As Dahake manages to go through the grind, half the battle is won.
The second half is won by a gripping narrative that either thrills or moves you throughout the duration. Soon you realize that the film is not story-based but treatment-based. The journey of the leopard and the subsequent twists keeps you glued. The smart characterization and the internal drama between characters also play their parts in making sure the film doesn’t go into the docu-drama mode whatsoever.
But there does come a period in the second half where the narration slows down thereby making you a bit impatient. Thankfully, this period doesn’t last long due to what follows. The closing moments and the climax deserve special mention for the soul-stirring effect it produces and the questions it raises about the indirect dangers and hypocrisy of ‘human nature’.
Apart from the above-mentioned point, what can go against the film is that the Indian audience isn’t friendly with such genre of films. Needless to say, those wishing for conventional entertainment might be disappointed.
Shooting such a film can also be a hell of a task for the cinematographer. Diego Romero has shot the entire movie using a hand-held camera. For getting his craft right, creating a visual treat and keeping the frame un-shaky, his work should be described as brilliant. The haunting background score suits the flick perfectly and stays with you. There is also some smart display of visual effects, especially the CGI image of the leopard.
Urmila Matondkar’s thoroughly dedicated performance too is one of the biggest plus points. Her Marathi film debut can move anyone due to the way she gets into the psyche of Purva Rao. It’s nothing short of excellent! After Yellow, Hrishikesh Joshi ones again turns up with an adorable act. Om Bhutkar, Shashank Shende and Shrikant Yadav give earnest support. Dilip Prabhavalkar and Yashpal Sharma create strong impact in cameos. Neha Mahajan and Anita Date are good in their cameos.
Overall: Ajoba is a spectacular cinematic treat; something that you haven’t experienced before. The film surely has a chance of making a good impact at the box office through positive word-of-mouth.