By: Keyur Seta
Rating: * * *
The mention of Indian freedom fighters instantly brings to our minds those famous names that we have been studying since our school days. But there were lakhs of unknown individuals who made enormous sacrifices for our nation by happily bearing the atrocities of the British. Director Ganesh Kadam’s Marathi movie Vitti Dandu pays tribute to such unknown freedom fighters in a heartwarming manner. However, some obvious issues hamper the film from being more impressive.
The story takes place in 1947 in Morgaon, a remote village in Maharashtra. The place is so out of touch with the neighboring areas that it takes around a week for any news to reach there. Among the few hundred inhibitors of the village are Daji (Dilip Prabhavalkar) and his grandson Govind (Nishant Bhavsar). In spite of his son and daughter-in-law being killed by the British, Daji continues to respect them and, in fact, hates those who wish for an independent India.
In the midst of bearing insults and bullying from his fellow villagers, all of a sudden there comes a moment of huge threat for Daji and Govind. The twist is triggered by the ‘Vitti’ that is used in the game Vitti Dandu (Gilli Danda in Hindi). The story of Daji and Govind is narrated in 2014 by a grandfather (Ravindra Mankani) to his techno-savvy grandson (Shubhankar Atre) while highlighting the importance of being in touch with nature.
Vitti Dandu has a solid foundation of an interesting and intriguing storyline that consist a smart mixture of a grandfather-grandson relationship, freedom struggle and the dying sport of Vitti Dandu. The narration flow and the biggest twist in the tale are also handled maturely.
Kadam has succeeded in bringing alive the pre-independence era of freedom struggle with the scenes depicting patriotic vigor filling you with pride. It is after a long time that patriotism in a film has steered away from appearing fake. The bonding between the people of the village deserves special mention. The dig taken at technology-obsessed individuals who are out of touch with nature is also laudable.
However, the film stops itself from earning more brownie points due to some issues that cannot be ignored. Firstly, there is a big question mark in the main twist. There are logical errors in the second half too. But what hurts the film the most is the last ten minutes. The idea was to induce applause from the audience but that doesn’t happen due to silliness and over-ambition. They should have exploited the important plot twist of the finale in a more mature manner.
The cinematographer has succeeded in artistically capturing the beautiful locations. The background score is as per the need. From the songs, the theme ‘Vande Mataram’ is a powerful rendition which also suits the subject.
The performance area is a plus point. Dilip Prabhavalkar once again succeeds in perfectly getting into the skin of his character and getting every aspect of the character right. Considering he is doing it consistently since last few years shows the brilliance of this artist. Nishant Bhavsar provides a fine act in a difficult role.
Yatin Karyekar, as an elderly Muslim, and Mrunal Thakur are impressive too. The film is also well supported by Ashok Samarth, Vikas Kadam, Uday Deshmukh, Ravindra Mankani and Shubhankar Atre. The actors playing British officers don’t get much scope and appear out of place.
Overall: Despite few issues, Vitti Dandu succeeds in being a moving saga that pays tribute to the many unknown freedom fighters.
Director: Ganesh Kadam
Producers: Raj Radha Movies
Writers: Vikas Kadam and Ganesh Kadam
Cast: Dilip Prabhavalkar, Nishant Bhavsar, Yatin Karyekar, Mrunal Thakur, Ashok Samarth
Genre: Period Drama/ Patriotism