By: Keyur Seta
Director: Satish Manwar
Producers: IME Motion Pictures and Sprint Art Creations Pvt. Ltd.
Writer: Satish Manwar
Cast: Upendra Limaye, Vibhawari Deshpande, Kishor Kadam, Suhas Palshikar, Suhas Shirsat, Gauri Konge
Music: Dattaprasad Ranade
Rating: * * * *
Story Outline: Kavudu (Upendra Limaye) lives a tribal life with his wife Bhulabai (Vibhawari Deshpande) and two children near a tiger sanctuary in the interiors of Maharashtra. After their already struggling life goes through another bad turn, Bhulabai has no option but to convert to Christianity. The film focuses on the consequences of the conversion.
Review: A character in Satish Manwar’s Tuhya Dharma Koncha? is once heard saying, “Our survival is more important that our religion and name.” The movie gives this bold message in such a realistically fearless yet enchanting manner that one is forced to stand up and applaud. In fact, Tuhya Dharma Koncha? is a high quality celluloid experience in all aspects that has the potential to please audiences world over.
Thankfully, the film doesn’t aim to be a tear-jerker about the tragic struggle of a tribal family. The focus is completely kept on how struggle for survival forces someone to happily change their religion or God. The issue of religious extremism is also portrayed in a bold manner. What makes the film special is how beautifully the visual medium is used to put forth the message rather than using any kind of dramatic dialogues.
As a writer and director, Mawar easily succeeds in getting us involved with the family’s tribal life without making the proceedings appear as a docu-drama whatsoever. Even the simplest of everyday scenes are presented in a manner that will amuse you. This ensures that you instantly feel for the characters and their decision to convert. The story flow is maintained perfectly with the important issue of conversion being introduced and developed in an intelligent manner.
There is always a danger of the writer or director going overboard with the consequences of such an act in such genre of films but fortunately that doesn’t happen here. That part is portrayed in a sensible yet mature manner which stops the proceedings from going chaotic or loud. But it is the climax that takes the cake for it delights you for the daring message it gives in such a simple yet most appealing manner.
There does come a moment in the second half where the film shows signs to become a drag. This is also felt during a song on Jesus which should have been shortened. But since that doesn’t happen for a longer period, it won’t bother you, especially after the final culmination. All in all, after Gabhricha Paus, Manwar has again given a loud message that he is here to stay.
What further gives an international feel to the film is the artistic camerawork (Parixit Warrier) and an impressive background score (Augustine Samuel). Perfect art direction (Ranjeet Desai) and costume designing (Geeta Godbole) help in adding realism. The taut editing also needs to be lauded. Dattaprasad Ranade composed tracks suit the subject. The song ‘Ravavani Lanka’ deserves special mention, also for the lyrics.
In a performance-oriented film, the actors rise to the occasion. Upendra Limaye once again proves himself as one of the top performers in the Marathi film arena by giving a realistically mature act. Vibhwari Deshpande is simply outstanding! The way she gets every nuance right in a difficult role speaks volumes about her talent.
Kishor Kadam shines as a Catholic Priest. Some earnest support is provided by Gouri Konge, Yash Sutar, Suhas Palshikar, Sneha Majgaonkar, Shashank Shende, Padmanabh Bind, etc.
Overall, Tuhya Dharma Koncha? is a superlative realistic saga that deserves to be seen by all. Due to the low hype, there film is in desperate need of positive word-of-mouth to have an impact at the box office.