Director: Avdhoot Gupte
Producers: Ekvira Productions, A Square Entertainment and Black Gold Films
Writer: Avdhoot Gupte
Cast: Abhijeet Khandkekar, Prarthana Behere, Vikram Gokhale
Music: Avdhoot Gupte
Rating: * * ½
Story Outline: In order to prove to someone that a Marathi person can be a successful businessman outside Maharashtra and Maharashtrian food can impress even non-Maharashtrians, Sayaji Nimbalkar (Abhijeet Khandkekar) starts a dhaba in Bhatinda (Punjab) named Jai Maharashtra Dhaba, Bhatinda.
Within a year, his dhaba crosses great levels of success as the Maharashtrian cuisine makes the local Punjabis go crazy. In the meantime, Sayaji also falls for a Punjabi girl Jaspinder Kaur (Prarthana Behere). But is the couple destined to be together?
Review: Avdhoot Gupte’s unique idea of mixing Maharashtrian and Punjabi culture with the use of food in Jai Maharashtra Dhaba, Bhatinda should be lauded for it gives rise to a number of smile-producing moments. But the overall satisfaction derived from the dish isn’t as mouth-watering as expected due to a not-so-perfect writing among other things.
From the positives, the film hits bulls-eye right at the start in mixing the two cultures with the song ‘Bolato Jithe Chaughada’. Likewise, the rest of the songs are also a very intelligent blend of Marathi and Punjabi music which is a remarkable achievement by Nilesh Moharir. Narration-wise, the first half makes for a decent watch, mostly due to some scenes between the lead pair and Sayaji’s warm relationship with the locals of Bhatinda. The short length of this part works well too.
Now, onto some flipsides. The very vital moment of the protagonist seeing the leading lady for the first time and falling in love doesn’t appeal much since he behaves more like a flirt than a lover boy. There is also a lack of proper aim or focus in the second half due to few sub-plots, including the forceful humorous track of Sayaji’s sardar friend. The pro-Marathi heroic dialogues don’t produce the kind of impact that was needed. Lastly, the all-important twist, although unpredictable and heart-warming, doesn’t convince entirely.
The film also doesn’t appear like a love story between a Mahrashtrian and a Punjabi because firstly, Behere doesn’t look like a Punjabi. And since we have seen her in Marathi serials and the fact that in the movie she is shown as someone speaking Marathi flawlessly also doesn’t help.
As mentioned above, the fusion music is one of the biggest strong points with all songs making a mark. The technical areas (cinematography, background score and editing) are praiseworthy too.
The performances of the debutant lead pair add to the plus points. Abhijeet Khandkekar succeeds in the difficult task of playing a tough guy and a lover boy simultaneously in his first film. Prarthana Behere also displays the acting skills and cuteness needed by her character. But there is still scope for improvement for both.
Although the sardar actor playing Abhijeet’s friend provides some laughter, he is over-the-top on a number of occasions. Veteran actor Vikram Gokhale plays his part well but he doesn’t get much scope. The rest of the supporting actors are adequate.
Overall, Jai Maharashtra Dhaba, Bhatinda can be seen only because of the fusion of Marathi and Punjabi culture. It requires some rapid word-of-mouth to succeed at the box office.