The Common Man Speaks


Half Ticket (Marathi movie) Review

The last decade has seen a number of Marathi films that can be relished by a PAN India audience. But there have also been some with international appeal. Director Samit Kakkad’s Half Ticket clearly belongs to the latter category. It has the potential of bringing a smile to anyone who has a heart.

Half Ticket is the official remake of the Tamil film, Kakka Muttai. It follows the story of two kids (Shubham More and Vinayak Potdar) from Dharavi, Mumbai’s slum hub. With their father languishing in jail and mother (Priyanka Bose) earning a paltry sum from her sewing job, they literally live from hand-to-mouth.

As the kids get their nourishment from eating crow eggs, they are nicknamed, Motha Kawlyacha Anda and Chhota Kawlyacha Anda. They try to make ends meet by selling coal from railway tracks. An incident introduces them with pizza, a variety they were unaware of before. Besotted by its look and smell, relishing pizza becomes the sole aim of their life. But how will they afford a dish which is luxurious by their standards?

Half-Ticket-Marathi-movieA large number of Mumbai population lives in slums. The living condition over their will give a sad shock to people from the outside world. The film provides this feeling by bringing a truly realistic depiction of the life in slum. This is an enormous achievement for the director since shooting a feature film in such conditions can be a nightmare for those not accustomed to it.

But for a film to work it is mandatory for it to be high on storytelling and this is exactly what Half Ticket achieves. As the kids go about their daily activities and chasing their desires, you can’t help but root for them. This was also possible since the screenplay doesn’t go off-track whatsoever. This ensures that the film says a lot without saying much, more so during the heart-warming climax.

Half Ticket does come with a few issues. A couple of incidents don't seem completely convincing and the length could have been a bit shorter. On few occasions in the first half, the roadside noise in the background overpowers the dialogues. Thankfully, these points are overshadowed by the plusses.

The technical has department played a large role in making the final product of international caliber. It is difficult to ignore Sanjay Memame’s (DoP) creative shots. The songs, used in the background, go well with the theme. But it is the pleasurable background score that stays with you for long.

The film rides high on performances, which is vital for such subjects. Shubham More and Vinayak Potdar have surrendered to their characters with utmost dedication. Lest not forget the conditions in which they shot.

Priyanka Bose, who makes her Marathi film debut, also gets into the skin of her character. Despite being a non-Marathi, she shows conviction while speaking the language. Usha Naik, as the grandmother, Bhalchandra Kadam, as the kids' friend, also chip in with earnest performances.

Overall:Half Ticket is an honestly made film about kids, which will appeal to grown-ups as well. It has a chance of doing well at the box-office provided it receives word-of-mouth. The only danger it faces is Rajinikanth’s Kabali.

Director: Samit Kakkad

Producers: Video Palace

Writers: M Manikandan (original story), Dnyanesh Zoting,

Cast: Shubham More, Vinayak Potdar, Priyanka Bose, Usha Naik, Bhalchandra Kadam

Music: G V Prakash Kumar

Genre: Drama

Release date: July 22, 2016

Runtime: 114 minutes

Rating: * * * ½

By: Keyur Seta


Laal Ishq (Marathi Movie) Review

Director: Swapna Waghmare Joshi

Producer: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Writers: Shirish Latkar

Cast: Swapnil Joshi, Anjana Sukhani, Sneha Chavan, Jayant Wadkar

Music: Amitraaj and Nilesh Moharir

Genre: Murder mystery

Release date: May 27, 2016

Rating: * *

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director Swapna Waghmare Joshi's Laal Ishq is a murder mystery. But the biggest mystery lies in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s decision of venturing into Marathi cinema with this film, which is more like a stretched episode of the serial CID with a dash of lust sugarcoated as romance.

The film revolves around a theatre group. Yash Patwardhan (Swapnil Joshi), film and theatre superstar, and the rest of the crew arrives at a resort to rehearse for their upcoming play. The lead actress (Sneha Chavan) is obsessed and possessive with Yash. But Yash instantly falls for Janhavi (Anjana Sukhani), who works at the resort. She too develops the same feelings for him. But amid their romance, a murder takes place. Senior cop Randive (Kamlesh Sawant) arrives to investigate the case.

Laal Ishq is quite fast paced on most occasions. It was a good idea to keep the length restricted to less than two hours. But what makes the film watchable is Kamlesh Sawant’s witty and sarcastic act as a cunning investigating officer. His confrontational scenes with Swapnil Joshi keep the film watchable. But apart from these points, the film has nothing working for itself.

Laal-Ishq-Marathi-movieSo, let’s have a look at the fallacies, which are aplenty:-

--The film is well shot. But that doesn’t help much as it is basically remains a murder mystery in an age old setting – group of people assembling at a venue and one of the gets killed. Doesn’t this instantly remind you of CID? Unfortunately, the film is handled in the same way as the Hindi serial.

-- The entire investigation is quite unintentionally hilarious. The two investigating officers aren’t even aware that the prime evidence material from the murder site isn’t to be picked up with bare hands. Never heard of gloves?

-- The absurdity of the investigation isn’t limited to this. It is seen the most with the way the mystery is solved. To say that it is unconvincing will be an understatement.

-- Yash looks at the girl and instantly falls for her without knowing her. That’s not love. That’s lust or infatuation at the most. The entire romance angle, if it can be called one, doesn’t gel with the film.

-- The guy doesn’t love his irritating co-star. But never tells her clearly. Why oh why?

-- Which sane theatre group would continue with the rehearsals even after their director is brutally murdered? In fact, they don’t even take a day to mourn his death. To add to this, the deceased was a mentor for Yash. Well, they just redefined professionalism!

-- The title is half justified. There is no ishq but there is a lot of laal, constantly reminding us about Bhansali’s association with the film.

-- A supporting character is constantly audio searching something on Google in almost each and every frame, even while having meals. Even primary school kids don’t behave this way.

-- The final mystery in the end, which is the most crucial part in a whodunit, completely lacks conviction. I can’t reveal more to avoid spoilers.

Swapnil Joshi’s performance is somewhat of a saving grace, although he is far from his best. Anjana Sukhani’s act just rises to an average level. Sneha Chavan is irritating to the core. Her poor characterization is to be blamed for this. The rest of the actors just fit the bill. The music is quite decent but the songs appear forced.

Overall: Laal Ishq is an immature murder mystery. Despite Swapnil Joshi’s presence, the film stands no chance at the box-office. The amazing run of Sairaat too will affect its collections.


Baji (Marathi Movie) Review – Worth your time & money

* * *

By: Keyur Seta

Nikhil Mahajan’s Baji achieves a rare feat of being a powerful action saga narrated and crafted in an artistic way. It is a benchmark of sorts for Marathi cinema when it comes to presenting a story. However, the film doesn’t rise as much as you expect after a brilliant first half due to various reasons. But there is enough in Baji for the masses to savor it.

Baji is based in the village of Shrigangpur, where Chidu (Shreyas Talpade) lives a simple life with his mother. Chidu is honest but lags behind in intelligence and bravery. This is the reason why he doesn’t find acceptance from the girl he is madly in love with – his childhood friend Gauri (Amruta Khanvilkar). The village is also known because of the savior Baji, who is believed to exist decades ago.

But there are some like Chidu who don’t believe such tales. But Gauri is a firm believer in Baji as the hero had saved her life during her childhood. She has been in love with Baji ever since and is still waiting for him. Chidu is eager to be her Baji but will he succeed? Meanwhile, Martand (Jitendra Joshi), a harmless villager, turns into a greedy devil when he comes to know that tons of gold lies underneath the land of Shrirangpur.



Baji is a rare example of a close to three hour movie that doesn’t force you to look at the clock even once. As far as the first half is concerned, the fascinating and intriguing storyline, creative narration and Mahajan’s mature handling of the subject leave you super-impressed! The shadow fighting sequence is a sheer pleasure and it deserves special mention. At this point itself you realize the film is an achievement for Marathi cinema.

But alas, things aren’t so similar in the second half. Although it continues to be a well-shot entertaining affair till the end, it is the twist that plays spoilsport. After such an out-of-the-box first half, you really don’t expect the story to tread on the age old, tried-and-tested formula lines, but this is exactly what happens. In fact, the basic plot is almost the same as that of a Marathi film released not-so-long-ago, which itself was a mish-mash of a number of Hindi films.

Vasu Rane’s camerawork plays a large role in making Baji look like an international product. Be in the picturesque locales of Konkan or the high octane action sequences, he excels throughout. The background score and editing also make sure the final product turns out to be technically impressive. Atif Afzal joins the party too with well composed tracks, from which the title song is the best of all.

The film will also be remembered for its action and stunts, especially the train sequence. However, the use of a huge hammer to beat up could have been avoided. Such visuals can’t be digested by a large section of the audience since the film is aimed at people of all age groups.

Coming to the performances, this film required Shreyas Talpade to give his best performance till date and he does that. This act also adds on to his versatility since he manages to excel even in this genre. Jitendra Joshi matches up to him with an excellent, powerful villainous act. This will surely be one of his most talked about act always.

Amruta Khanvilkar too displays her talent playing a tough village belle. Actors playing Chidu’s friend and mother too play their parts well. Nagraj Manjule (director of Fandry) scores in a cameo.

Overall: Baji is an entertainer worth your time and money. It also ensures Nikhil Mahajan to be a lookout for the future. With the tremendous hype and its commercial nature, it is most likely to be a box office success.

Director: Nikhil Mahajan

Producers: IME Motion Pictures & Dar Motion Pictures

Writers: Nikhil Mahajan & Suhrud Godbole

Cast: Shreyas Talpade, Jitendra Joshi, Amruta Khanvilkar

Music: Atif Afzal

Genre: Action/ Drama


Pyaar Vali Love Story Review – Absurdity kills the message

By: Keyur Seta

Rating: * *

Romeo and Juliet stories are done to death. But this is not exactly the reason why Sanjay Jadhav’s Pyaar Vali Love Story doesn’t work. The film gets the viewer interested for some time but suddenly falls down the graph of sensibility and continues to do so till its hilariously silly climax. This is enough to ensure that the important message that it tries to give is lost.

The story is set in 1992 in Mumbai. Pashya (Sameer Dharmadhikari) and Kadar (Upendra Limaye) are the best of friends living in adjacent colonies occupied by Hindus and Muslims respectively. Pashya is in love with the hot-tempered but kind Nandini (Urmila Kanitkar Kothare), from his locality.

Amar (Swapnil Joshi), Pashya’s brother who stays in a hostel in Pune, returns to Mumbai to arrange his brother’s marriage with Nandini. As soon as he arrives in the city, he falls for Aliya (Sai Tamhankar), who is Kadar’s sister. But they soon realize that their path of love is filled with obstacles.

Pyar-Wali-Love-Story-Marathi-MoviePyaar Vali Love Story works decently in the first 50-55 minutes. Simple characters, their strong bonds and small joys gain your sympathy. Although the spoon-feeding narration and the forceful bonding between both communities could have been avoided, you at least feel interested due to some appealing moments. For example, the manner in which Kadar gets people of the locality to take part in Pashya’s wedding. Despite the tried-and-tested method, the romance angle also somewhat works.

But like an accident, the film abruptly loses sense just before interval through an unconvincing twist. What follows is one silly scene following another initiated by a poor misunderstanding. It amazes you how some characters, who till now showed a lot of maturity, suddenly start behaving like immature kids. But just when you think you have seen enough absurdity, you realize that the writers have saved the best one for the climax. On a less serious note, it at least succeeds in making you laugh.

Another questionable aspect is such high usage of Hindi in the dialogues and songs. The obvious reason for this is that few characters are Muslim. But that doesn’t mean you convert the film into bilingual whenever they are speak.

The songs (Pankaj Padghan, Amitraj and Samir Saptiska), both peppy and romantic numbers, provide some satisfaction. Prasad Bhende’s camerawork is decent. The violin tunes in the background score work very well.

The performances are hampered by the content. Swapnil Joshi and Sai Tamhankar manage to impress as the lead pair. Upendra Limaye and Sameer Dharmadhikari are decent as hot-headed individuals. Urmila Kanetkar Kothare provides a believable and dedicated act by smartly getting into the skin of her character. Nagesh Bhosale and Chinmay Mandlekar, in a cameo, are alright.

Overall: Pyaar Vali Love Story fails in giving an important message due to some unforgivable absurdities. The presence of well-known names and the fact that it is the next film by the team of Duniyadari will ensure a good run for it at the box office in the first week.

Director: Sanjay Jadhav

Producers: Inder Raj Kapoor, Rekha Joshi and Deepak Pandurang Rane

Writers: Arvind Jagtap, Tapan Bhatt and Ashish Patre

Cast: Swapnil Joshi, Sai Tamhankar, Upendra Limaye, Sameer Dharmadhikari, Urmila Kanetkar Kothare

Music: Pankaj Padghan, Amitraj and Samir Saptiska

Genre: Romance/ Drama


Astu – So Be It (Marathi Movie) Review


By: Keyur Seta

Directors: Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukhtankar

Producers: Mohan Agashe and Sheelaa Rao

Writer: Sumitra Bhave

Cast: Mohan Agashe, Iravati Harshe, Milind Soman, Nachiket Purnapatre, Amruta Subhash, Devika Daftardar

Music: Saket Kanetkar and Dhananjay Kharwandikar

Genre: Drama

Rating: * * * *

Story Outline: The film revolves around a retired college principal and widower Dr. Shastri aka Appa (Mohan Agashe). He is highly respected for his wisdom and deep knowledge about the Vedas. But lately he has also become known for being handicapped with Alzheimer’s disease, which makes him forget anything, including the names of his own family members.

Appa’s daughter (Iravati Harshe) is married to Dr. Madhav (Milind Soman). Once she takes Appa to his old house. On the way, she leaves him in a car for few minutes as she needs to visit a shop. But in that short duration, Appa goes missing.

Review: There are innumerable films that speak a lot. But there are very few that say a lot of things without saying anything. Directors Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukhtankar’s Astu – So Be It is one of those rare films. On the surface, it appears as a lost-and-found saga but deep inside it brings to forth many layers that force you to think about it long after you leave the cinema hall.

astu-marathi-movieAstu has Bhave and Sukhtankar’s stamp of uncompromising attitude all over when it comes to the utterly realistic manner in which the film is shot. This helps a lot in creating an intense atmosphere that helps the audience get involved in the proceedings. But of course, it is the watertight script, for most of the duration, which also largely helps its cause. The intelligent manner in which flashback is used deserves special mention.

But the bigger achievement is the message given with regards to the attitude of people from starkly opposite strata of society towards people with a condition like Alzheimer’s. One of the rich layers is also the equation of relationships.  The film also manages to say a lot more through some sub-plots, moving images, conversations and conflict between characters. It will account to spoilers if they are listed here.

The only problem with Astu is its duration. The film should have ended much before and shouldn’t have been dragged during the ending moments. Thankfully though, the overwhelming climax won’t let these points bother you much.

There is no scope for songs as such. But a couple of tracks used in the background gel very well with the situations, especially the one in a South Indian language. Milind Jog’s camerawork creatively captures even the simplest of scenes. The idea of using a hand-held camera on a number of occasions adds to the intensity. The editing is fine but there could have been more use of scissors.

It is Mohan Agashe’s act that helps the film to rise at such a level. The veteran actor is simply outstanding in a role that can be hugely challenging for any actor. You just can’t help but applaud when he shows signs of Alzheimer’s and speaks with his expressions. But despite such a towering performance by the main lead, Iravati Harshe manages to super impress with a dedicated act.

Milind Soman plays his part well. There is some issue with his Marathi pronunciation though. Nachiket Purnapatre too is wonderful in a difficult role. Despite arriving in the latter part, Amruta Subhash leaves behind a tremendous impact through her brilliant portrayal of a tribal woman. Ila Bhate and Devika Daftardar too shine in extended cameos.

Overall: Astu –So Be It is a must watch for the lovers of sensible cinema. It is sad that such a film is unable to get a proper release. Needless to say, it needs some tremendous word-of-mouth from all those who have been fortunate enough to have seen it.


Rege (Marathi Movie) Review

By: Keyur Seta

Director: Abhijit Panse

Producers: The Art Beat Productions

Writer: Abhijit Panse

Cast: Mahesh Manjrekar, Aroh Welankar, Pushkar Shrotri, Santosh Juvekar

Music: Avadhoot Gupte

Genre: Underworld Drama

Rating: * * * ½

Story Outline: Rege is inspired from the real-life story of the encounter specialist Pradeep Sharma. The film revolves around the final year M.B.B.S student Aniruddha Rege (Aroh Welankar). By being in the company of the ruffian Pakya, he gets introduced to the gangster Manohar Bhai (Santosh Juvekar). Impressed by the style and aura of Manohar, Rege starts idolizing him. But being in the bad company proves costly for Rege as he, along with other gangsters, gets involved in a murder. This brings Pradeep Sharma and his men on Rege’s trail.

Review: When we think about films on the underworld, we instantly visualize bullets flying and dead bodies collapsing either through gang wars or battles between gangsters and police. This is exactly what we are fed by films of this genre, mostly by Bollywood. But in his very first film Rege, director Abhijit Panse brings in a completely fresh approach while narrating a tale about the underworld resulting in a compelling, intense drama that is thoroughly impressive.

The entire is film is filled with realistic situations that are narrated with some brilliant creativity leaving you completely gripped. You just can’t help but applaud the intelligent use of non-linear screenplay and the manner in which some vital events are revealed indirectly just through the visual medium. This is also seen in the manner in which Panse has used such minimal use of violence despite the film being about ruthless gangsters and encounter specialists.

Through the events of the film, the audience is also given a message without anyone uttering it. However, the very last scene is a bit questionable. There is also some issue in the placing of events in the latter part of the second half.

Nevertheless, these are minor issues that don’t kill your satisfaction. All in all, Panse becomes yet another debutant to excel in his very first film after Mahesh Limaye did in the brilliant Yellow. Co-incidentally, Limaye has handled the film’s cinematography by displaying his artistic skills.

From Avadhoot Gupte’s music, ‘Aswasth Sare’ leaves a big impact. It not only goes well with the theme but is also rich in lyrics. The lavani song is average. Due to some reason, the ‘Dishkyaoon’ track isn’t used.

Every actor has given quality performances, which was the need of the subject. Debutant Aroh Welankar is outstanding! To play such a difficult and emotionally draining character so convincingly and that too in your first film is a huge achievement. Mahesh Manjrekar gives a mature act as Pradeep Sharma. But on few occasions, he is unable to hide his Marathi accent.

Santosh Juvekar is simply amusing as he gets into the skin of Manohar Bhai with ease. Pushkar Shrotri is perfect as Sharma’s subordinate. The actor playing the character of Pakya and the rest of the actors offer good support.

Overall: Rege is a creatively mature take on the underworld. The film is receiving positive word of mouth which could help its box office prospects. But it will be affected by the super success of the Hindi film Singham Returns.


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Rama Madhav (Marathi Movie) Review

By: Keyur Seta

Director: Mrinal Kulkarni

Producers: Shivam-Jemin Enterprises

Writers: Mrinal Kulkarni and Manaswini L R

Cast: Parna Pethe, Alok Rajwade, Mrinal Kulkarni, Prasad Oak, Sonalee Kulkarni, Shruti Marathe, Ravindra Mankani, Dr Amol Kolhe

Genre: Drama

Rating: * * *

Story Outline: A bubbly and naughty Rama (Shruti Kalselar and later Parna Pethe) hailing from a middle-class background is married to Madhavrao Peshwa (Alok Rajwade), the prince of the royal Peshwa dynasty, during her childhood. As the two grow up, the political scenario lands the couple in some serious challenges that also affect their personal life. Madhavrao’s evil and scheming uncle Raghunathrao (Prasad Oak) makes things worse.

Review: The mention of the word ‘Peshwa’ instantly brings to our mind the glory of the Maratha Empire and the fearless battles of honor the Peshwas fought and won with style. But amidst such acts of bravery and fearlessness, the era also saw an episode of pure selfless love that is successfully portrayed in Mrinal Kulkarni’s Rama Madhav.

The film takes the viewer back to the bygone era very successfully through some convincing set and costume designing (Poornima Oak) and finely sketched characters. But, obviously, the bigger reason why the film works is the honest approach while presenting a lesser known story.

This happens due to two reasons. Firstly, to see the spirit of the Peshwas in terms of the administration of the state and bravery in wars is sheer delight! Secondly, the love track between Rama and Madhav is smartly interwoven in between various political issues. The writers have also made sure the proceedings don’t become depressing even during tragic situations.

The only big problem here is the length of 147 minutes. There are times in the second half when the narrative loses the grip it had provided earlier. It is also unlikely for people of today’s era to accept the regressive-ness of that era, especially during the starting moments.

Rajiv Jain’s excellent camerawork adds more delight. You just can’t fail to notice the artistic touch in almost every frame, mostly during the scenes inside Shanwar Wada. Anand Modak, who passed away earlier this year, composed tunes are melodious and they go well with the genre. The Ganpati aarti song, ‘Loot Liyo’ and ‘Swapnihi Navhte Disle’ stand out.

Such a film needs to score high in performances and that is exactly what is provided by the actors. Parna Pethe is thoroughly convincing as the elder Rama. Shruti Kalsekar, as the younger one, is super cute. She displays great acting skills too. Alok Rajwade, as Madhavrao, shines with a thoroughly dedicated act.

Prasad Oak gets into the skin of the antagonist Raghunathrao with ease. Mrinal Kulkarni displays her utmost mature skills while playing Gopikabai. Ravindra Mankani and Dr. Amol Kolhe make sure they perfectly suit Nanasaheb and Sadashivrao. Sonalee Kulkarni and Shruti Marathe provide decent support as Anandibai and Parvatibai.

Overall: Rama Madhav is an honest effort that deserves to be seen. The film needs rapid word-of-mouth to have a big impact at the box office.




Poshter Boyz (Marathi Movie) Review

By: Keyur Seta

Director: Sameer Patil

Producers: Shreyas Talpade and Deepti Talpade under Affluence Movies Pvt. Ltd.

Writers: Sameer Patil and Charudutt Bhagwat

Cast: Dilip Prabhavalkar, Hrishikesh Joshi, Aniket Vishwasrao, Neha Joshi, Pooja Sawant

Music: Leslie Lewis

Genre: Comedy/ Drama

Rating: * * * ½

Story Outline: In Vadaner village, the lives of the aged, highly respected Jagan Deshmukh (Dilip Prabhavalkar), school teacher Sadanand Kulkarni (Hrishikesh Joshi) and youngster Arjun (Aniket Vishwasrao) come crashing down after their photos are printed on a poster encouraging Vasectomy (Nasbandi) without their knowledge. Now the trio must find the culprit responsible for printing their photos before it is too late.

Review: Most of the times, when comedy is born out of a serious issue, the humor takes a backseat at some point in the film, mostly the latter part of the second half. But debutant Sameer Patil’s Poshter Boyz doesn’t fall in that category. The film achieves a rare feat of being a laugh-riot for the entire duration despite the fact that it also raises few important social issues.

Confusion comedies are not novel by any means but Poshter Boyz manages to stand apart due to the subject of Vasectomy, which is unheard of, and the smart manner in which it arrives at the main point. From here on, the fun just doesn’t end.

Generally, we associate a laugh-riot falls with mindless or slapstick comedy. But this is a rare example of a non-stop laugh-riot only using sensible situational humor. And when your laughter doesn’t fade even long after the joke, you know it is a huge achievement for the writing, more so when the humor is maintained even during serious situations.

This is not the only reason why Poshter Boyz works. Just like Satish Rajwade’s Popat, this film also manages to present a sex-related social issue in a manner that not a single family member of any age group would feel awkward. The only drawback here is that it treads on the tried and tested route in the closing moments.

Composer Leslie Lewis makes a successful Marathi film debut with this film. The song ‘Deva Deva’ is a sheer pleasure as it skillfully mixes three different genres – spiritual, romance and lawani – in one song. The title track and ‘Kshan’ also score high marks. Pushpank Gawde makes a mark with his artistic camerawork even during simple situations. The background score is effective, although unnecessarily loud at times.

A film of this genre requires skillful comic timing and that is exactly what the actors present. The ever-reliable veteran Dilip Prabhavalkar once again gives a thoroughly mature and sensible act. He underplays himself during the comic moments, which works well. Hrishikesh Joshi continues from where he left in Yellow with another terrific performance. He portrays humor born out of frustration brilliantly. Aniket Vishwasrao is perfect as the hot-headed youngster.

Neha Joshi, as Kulkarni’s wife, is first-rate as an angry, frustrated wife. Pooja Sawant does what was asked from her and looks mesmerizing. The rest of the actors provide decent support.

Overall: Poshter Boyz is a rib-tickling laugh-riot with a timely message. The positive word-of-mouth coupled with a good promotional strategy will make it a winner at the box office.




Ajoba (Marathi Movie) Review

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.





Salaam (Marathi Movie) Review

Director: Kiran Yadnyopavit

Producer: Calyx Media and Entertainment

Writer: Kiran Yadnyopavit

Cast: Vivek Chabukswar, Abhishek Bharate, Girish Kulkarni, Kishore Kadam, Atisha Naik, Jyoti Chandekar

Music: Rahul Ranade

Genre: Drama

Rating: * * * ½

By: Keyur Seta

Story Outline: In a picturesque village in Maharashtra lives Raghunath aka Raghya (Vivek Chabukswar), studying in seventh standard. His father (Girish Kulkarni) works with Mumbai police as a constable; he visits his family in between. Shankar aka Sada (Abhishek Bharate) is Raghya’s classmate and close friend. His father is an officer with the Indian Army.

Sada believes his father’s profession is more prestigious than Raghya’s father while Raghya feels vice-versa. Once, their school teacher (Kishore Kadam) hands over a voluntary task of collecting funds for a noble cause to the students. This exercise becomes the turning point in the friendship of Raghya and Sada.

Review: Kiran Yadnyopavit’s Taryanche Bait was about an obsessive desire of a child and his relation with his father. Although the storyline of his latest offering Salaam is entirely different, it also focuses on a fixated longing of a kid and his relation with someone, this time a friend. The similarities don’t end here as Salaam, just like Taryanche Bait, turns out to be a delightfully moving experience.

The film doesn’t follow a conventional storytelling method. Through the experiences and routine lives of the character, a plot emerges in the background. But this doesn’t test your patience whatsoever. Instead, you are treated to a series of pleasurable moments as the characters go about their business. The beautiful and utterly peaceful locations add to the delight. The effort to pay tribute to army officer and policemen is also laudable.

In the latter part of the second half, however, there comes a point when not only is your patience is tested but you are also left a bit confused by the turn of events. Thankfully, all your doubts are cleared by a soul-stirring climax that pleases you no ends! The simple manner in which Yadnyopavit has presented a pleasing message by just using the visual medium proves he is here to stay for long.

The scenic locations appear more beautiful through cinematographer Abhijit Abde’s lens. From Rahul Ranade’s music, the song ‘Timbacktoo’ is worth mentioning. His background score too goes well with the proceedings. But repeating a particular background tune too many times could have been avoided.

The performances of two kids play a large role in creating an impact. Vivek Chabukswar is excellent as Raghya! It is incredible how he can display such varied emotions at such a young age. Abhishek Bharate, as Sada, isn’t far behind either in a supporting role. Girish Kulkarni leaves a mark in a lovable cameo. Kishore Kadam too deserves a similar praise.

Atisha Naik, as Raghya’s mother, and Jyoti Chandekar, as his grandmother, also chip in with good performances. There are some well-enacted cameos also from Pravin Tarde, Shashank Shende, Savita Prabhune, Suhas Shirsat, Sanjay Khapre and few others.

Overall: Salaam is a gem of a film that deserves a salaam. But it is sad to see such lack of proper hype for such a good effort. Hence, it will struggle at the box office.