By: Keyur Seta
Director: Mahesh Vaman Manjrekar
Producers: Aniruddha Deshpande and Medha Manjrekar
Writers: Mahesh Manjrekar and Sanjay Pawar
Cast: Sachin Khedekar, Sonali Kulkarni, Rohan Talwalkar, Vaidehi Parshurami, Upendra Limaye, Jitendra Joshi, Vidyadhar Joshi
Music: Akshay Hariharan
Rating: * * ½
Story Outline: Kokanastha is the remake of Mahesh Manjrekar’s own Hindi film Viruddh (2005). The story focuses on Ramchandra Gokhale (Sachin Khedekar) and his wife’s (Sonali Kulkarni) fight for justice for their deceased son Rohan (Rohan Talwalkar), who was killed by the son of the Home Minister.
Review: Amitabh Bachchan starrer Viruddh is considered one of Mahesh Manjrekar’s better Hindi films. Since Kokanastha is a complete remake of the Bachchan starrer, it also turns out to be a moving saga of an aged couple who have lost their young son. However, the Marathi version falls short of the original due to few reasons, which includes the forced casteism and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) angels.
In fact, both angels turn out to be smart PR and marketing strategies. Firstly, the title has nothing to do with the plot and is just used to please a particular community. And to make sure people from lower castes don’t feel alienated, the character of Gokhale’s well-wisher (Upendra Limaye) is shown to be a Dalit who constantly utters “Jai Bheem” throughout the film. How forgivable is such promotion of casteism, especially when it has no relevance with the film’s plot?
Coming to the controversial RSS scene splashed on the film’s posters, (even if you assume the group to be truly commendable) it simply doesn’t go with the character of the protagonist and appears unintentionally funny. It is just a small sequence forced into the narrative so that it can be used to generate some pre-release hype.
Like the original film, Kokanastha does make you feel and root for the aged couple in their difficult fight. Their relationship is smartly developed by some wittily humorous and emotional moments. But the film’s overall effect would have been higher if the editor had used his scissors more. An unwanted song and a flashback scene in the first half and few dragging moments in the second half unnecessarily add up to the length.
It also needs to be noted that since Viruddh did fairly well in Maharashtra and is also shown on TV many times, a large section of the Marathi film audience must have seen it. Due to this, not only does the whole film become predictable but you also can’t deny the fact that the presentation of few scenes, mostly the all-important climax, was more effective in the original version.
Although music (Akshay Hariharan) doesn’t have much scope, ‘Aga Pawna’ and the theme song are impressive. Other technical aspects like the background score and cinematography suit the subject.
The performances of Sachin Khedekar and Sonali Kulkarni are the biggest plus points. With this act, Khedekar once again proves his super acting prowess as he gets into the skin of the protagonist and portrays every emotion with ease. Kulkarni doesn’t lag behind too. She is remarkable in the strong character of a retired school principal.
Rohan Talwalkar makes a confident debut while Vaidehi Parshurami too suits the character. In a supporting role, Upendra Limaye is terrific! The rest of the actors including Jitendra Joshi and Vidyadhar Joshi provide perfect support.
Overall, Kokanastha is just a one-time watch, mostly due to the performances. The film has a chance of earning at the box office due to the big names attached with it.