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Movie Review : Hampi

Published November 20, 2017 by vishalvkale

I review only the best movies; the next one that qualifies is Hampi. Some people told me Hampi was a movie. Some told me it was a great movie. Some told me it was a travelogue. Some told me it was a sweet movie. Well, all the above were wrong; all the above were right – and all the above did not, in my opinion, come even close to what Hampi is. It was a relatively short movie – if you can call it that; which I don’t. It was over in 1 hour and some 40-odd minutes tops. It wasn’t a moving movie; it wasn’t a deep movie; it didn’t deal with esoteric subjects. It also isn’t a movie that will appeal to everyone, that is also equally true. You need, in my opinion, a particular kind of emotional / artistic / simple outlook in your mind to truly connect.


हंपी एक नुसतं चित्रपट नसून एका उत्कृष्ट कवी ची कल्पना असावी; एका विलक्षण चित्रकाराचे चित्र असावे. हिला  एका महान कवी ची कविता जरी म्हंटलं तरी चालेल. ह्या चित्रपटाची सर्वात मोठी गोषट तर हि आहे कि ह्याच्यात एक एक फ्रेम, प्रत्येक सीन, प्रत्येक क्षण फार विचार करून ठेवलेला आहे. पात्रांनी म्हंटलेली एक एक वाक्य त्यांनी म्हंटलेले एक एक शब्द खूप विचार करून ठेवले गेले; एवढे जर पुरत नसेल तर हे पण खरे कि ह्या चित्रपटात शांतता चा वापर सुद्धा खूपच उल्लेखनीय आहे. फक्त हेच नाही – संगीत आणि पार्षव संगीत, म्हणजे बॅकग्राऊंड स्कॉर व गाणी सुद्धा चित्रपटाशी, संपूर्ण वातावरणाशी आणि इतक्या सोप्या आणि सरळ रीती नि मिळतात आणि एकजीव होतात कि अगदी तर्क संगत व स्वाभाविक वाटतात


This is a labour of love; it is a poem, it is a lyrical story of a maestro author, a signature painting of a top painter, it is a masterpiece of artistic creation with each and every cinematic sub-item in perfect consonance with the beauty of the story and the script. If there is perfection anywhere – it is here, it is here, it is here – in this stupendous creation of love, harmony, art, entertainment, poetry, prose, painting, canvas all rolled into one.


THE STORY
The story, per se, is simple – it is a story of a disillusioned daughter, whose parents are going through a divorce. She decides to get away from it all, and plans a holiday to Hampi {a tourist destination of breathtaking natural beauty in Southern India} with her close friend. The friend cannot make it and cancels – so she lands up alone, and runs into a co-resident in the hotel she stays at. The story is of her experiences in Hampi, with the taxi {auto} driver, a handicrafts-woman, a sadhu; and most of all, for the large part, her continuous banter with Kabir, the guy who stays at the hotel. Until that is the other lady, the best friend, arrives… no, don’t jump to conclusions, please. Nothing like that. But it does cause a bit of a change in the scenario. Saying anything else will be a spoiler!
THE ANALYSIS
As I observed earlier, a story is one thing, the script quite another. The difference, the magic is in the script and screenplay, which weaves in a scenic tour of the magnificent ancient township of Hampi, effortlessly co-creates a story of ethereal visual appeal that will transfix you with its awesome cinematography, which is one of the biggest pluses of the movie. At no point does the slow pace of the story get to you, such is the hypnotic beauty on screen!
This is a movie in which every word has been chosen and placed with great care and attention; every frame has been tastefully placed almost – with great love; every note of every musical score has been crafted to gel into the entire scenario, and blend in effortlessly. Even the silences interspersed throughout the movie are chosen with great care, passion and add to the story, the overall hypnotic transcendental magic and the beauty of the overall product. This is a true Gem in every sense of the word. Loaded with memorable dialogues, even more memorable silences, heart-warming music and background score, and superlative cinematography. What more can you want?
What more can you want, you and I say? The stunning, natural and effervescent performances by the entire cast; Lalit Prabhakar, whose talent we saw earlier in Chi V Chi Sau Ka; Sonali Kulkarni – who needs no introduction; and the supporting cast – all played their part to the best of their considerable talents. Everyone has a strong, scriptwriter-backed role; but they have put in the performance of their lives. Sonali as Isha is a revelation in this excellent role; Lalit as Kabir is, as usual, tops. They carry the story on their shoulders, ably supported by Priyadarshan Jadhav and Prajakta Mali.
Reviewer after professional reviewer has stated about the absence of a story, of the lack of a coherent narrative; they are flat wrong, period.  It once again shows that the so-called professional reviewers are totally out of touch with audience tastes. While the professionals rate in 2.5 stars, the audience ratings are above 3.5. That shows the divergence in audience and the professionals. The film has a lovely, deep story – one that has to be understood by an emotionally awakened intelligent person.

It is a story told through sparse words, words pregnant with meaning; through soulful music, through penetrating and telling silence, and their combination which together craft a story of the conversion of one person – Isha, from a negative, slightly depressed, slightly angry element into a vivacious soft person. One can easily see, at the end, that this is the real Isha and that the depression was a temporary trauma brought by a painful divorce of her parents.  It has a moving, mesmerizing story; that the professionals weren’t able to fathom it shows they need to understand a real artistic creation, not just go through the motions of watching it! All in all, rated 5 stars. Note that I only review the best of the best Movies; and it has qualified for my blog…
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Movie Review – Hrudayantar

Published July 9, 2017 by vishalvkale

Child / Family member having Leukemia or being terminally ill is a theme that has been dealt with more times than you and I would care to count; which is also an observation critics have made of this movie as well. Thus, if you are deciding to make a movie on this aspect or theme, then it should be having loads of glue so that the audience will respond to it; which is not easy to do in the modern day with its fickle and well-informed audience. As per some critics, it is a movie that has an old subject or is predicatable; as per me – this stands as one of the most stunning movies ever made in its genre, any language. So what is it that makes this movie stand out among all others?


THE PLOT
This is the story of a DITK family – Double Income Two Kids family;  The Husband {Shekhar, played by Subodh Bhave} is a top – and I mean top – hotelier; the lady {Samaira, played by Mukta Bhave} is the Creative Head of an Ad Agency; two successful and exceedingly well-placed individuals. They have two children – Nitya and Nysha, played by Trushnika Shinde and Nishtha Vaidya. The couple are going through a hard phase, as the Husband is a workaholic who has not learnt to navigate the fine dividing line between office time and personal time; a man who lives only and only for his job.


The lady, on the other hand, has managed to fit in both into her life, and justifiably expects the husband to do so as well. This leads to them filing for divorce by mutual consent; and then disaster strikes, in the form of the elder daughter getting diagnosed with Leukemia. The rest of the story revolves around this theme, as the couple respond to this crisis, and together they try and do everything within their power and the power of medicine, to save their girl. How the family responds, reacts, coalesces, how each family member copes with the crisis is the crux of the movie.
THE ANALYSIS
As can be seen, the plot is quite straightforward; what matters in a movie is not just the plot, but the whole package; that is what most professional reviewers have been forgetting. On site after site, one can see that critic reviews and customer reviews vary from each other by a wide margin – Bookmyshow, 4.1 vs 3.2, with 80% loves; most other sites are also showing a 0.5 higher rating by customers. To the professional reviewers – those figures are telling a story, that w don’t agree with you. Isnt a movie supposed to be about the audience? And if your ratings don’t tally, what does that say?
So what is it that makes this movie one of the best I have ever seen – given that it has reached my blog, which has only reviewed 10-odd movies in the past 6-7 years, it is, to me, a very special movie indeed? It is the entire package, which comes together in one magnificent whole to make a great product. It is the attention to detail, the minutiae, the small aspects that create the magic. Add to that the uniqueness in the script {A script is different from A story!}, the screenplay, the performances, the music and the direction – all of these come together in one magical product, a product that can be seen again and again. I for one cant wait to see Shekhar and Samaira on screen once again, that is for certain!
The script seems logical – the moment the illness hits, the interpersonal issues of the couple vanish – unlike some other movies we have seen in this genre. This is entirely logical; that is the first aspect that hits home. Gone are the fights, the disagreements, the egos – in one stroke of terrifying lightning, as the couple immediately comes together. The best part – they don’t become lovey-dovey overnight; it is just that the immediate priority is fighting the crisis, which makes them rise above their internal issues. This is dealt with superbly, with the script and the screenplay showing a slow and decidedly thaw developing as the story progresses. This took some doing – as the illness hit within the first 30 minutes of the movie. The way the script and the screenplay develop this is masterly!
Second, the Performances. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! Simply amazing! Subodh Bhave – I have always maintained that Subodh is among the best actors ever produced by our country; and was therefore wondering if Mukta Barve can hold her own against such a powerful screen presence, with an actor with such a wide range of capabilities as seen in his other efforts. I have earlier noted her abilities in no uncertain terms in one other review before; and had a very high regard for her. Despite this, I must confess I was concerned about this casting, and was eagerly waiting for the results.
I needn’t have worried; this casting was a masterpiece. The script required two strong performers of equal merit, depth and range of emotions, and gravity of purpose and screen presence to cocreate magic; this was achieved by this casting. The expressions, the movements, the gestures, the faces, the body language – and the eyes; especially the eyes. I saw two acting aces, geniuses pull off what has to be the best performance of their lives, and that is saying something. So captivating were the two performances, so absolutely mind boggling, that you are moved to tears, and yet maintain a great mood, as you watch, transfixed, as Samaira and Shekhar take us deep into their lives.
A word here for Trushnika and Nishtha, the two child actors; I am speechless at the talent of these two incredible performers. They add the required substance, believability, class and connect to the movie, and their performance had to be just right; not too overdramatic, not underdone. And it was perfect, as near perfect as can be. Without these two performances,  the movie would have lost a lot of its sheen; it is the overall balance in the entire product that makes it great.
And it is here that directorial genius becomes evident – the directorial efforts get hidden by two towering geniuses in Samaira & Shekhar; but getting the kids, the supporting actors to also perform as well –  is class direction. It is also evident in the overall construction of this landmark project, the music, the balance, and the overall handling; we have a new and very, very talented director who would bear watching very closely indeed – if his first venture is anything to go by. I have said nothing of the music so far – so let me correct that; the music with its mix of lively and mood numbers is just right for the movie, and is very good indeed – and also gels well with the screenplay, script and the characters.
CONCLUSION

To Film Critics – couldn’t all of you see these aspects? Why the comparatively miserly rating for such a great product? Just because it deals with an oft-dealt with product? What do you guys require to rate a move highly, do tell me! And if the audience rates the movie higher, much higher – then I respectfully submit that there is a lack of audience connect on your part. All in all, this is one of the finest movies made in India in its genre. It is a complete entertainer; despite being a relatively tragic topic, you come out transfixed and in a great mood. That is one hell of an achievement! Rated 5 stars out of 5, and I wish I could rate it 7 stars out of 5! 

Drama Review – Yugpurush {Marathi}

Published July 9, 2017 by vishalvkale

YUGPURUSH : THE PLAY

The play is directed by acclaimed director Rajesh Joshi of ‘Code Mantra‘ fame, and scripted by well-known playwright Uttam Gada of ‘Maharathi’ fame. The music direction is by popular composer duo Sachin – Jigar. Duration: 120 minutes with intermission. This play has a series of awesome reviews and testimonials, in addition to being from the stable of one of the most powerful dramas in Marathi – Code Mantra. Click the link to see the testimonials



How did The Mahatma become just that : The Mahatma? How did Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi traverse the journey to becoming a Mahatma? This is the subject the current play under review attempts to tackle, which it does remarkably well. This, however, is not a play on the Indian Freedom Struggle; neither is it a play on The Mahatma per se, in that it doesn’t have The Mahatma in the primary role; the central character is a man who should be known to us all – Raichand Mehta. {Click link to know more about this great soul}  This is the story of The Mahatma’s Guru, who played a key role in the formation of the views of The Mahatma.


THE HISTORICAL ASPECT – AN EXAMINATION
First, let us look at the claim that the play makes – as that Guru. There is some historical basis for this claim – as we can see from The Mahatma’s Autobiography, Pg 81-83, and Pg 189 of The Story Of My Experiments With The Truth, Navjivan Publishing House {To be reviewed on my Blog}. I quote : “Thus, though I could not place Raychandbhai on the throne of my heart as a Guru, we shall see how he was, on many occasions, my guide and helper”. It is clear from this that while the claim that the play makes is not fully borne out by the book I have, it is reasonably accurate. We can proceed from this assumption.


Further, reading on in the same paragraph, we read : “Three Moderns have left a deep impress on my life and captivated me: Raychandbhaiby his living contact, Tolstoy by his Book – The Kingdom Of God Is Within You, and Ruskin by his Unto The Last”. This sentence is most interesting and critical in analyzing the script of this play – Raychandbhai has been specifically mentioned by The Mahatma as the only living person who has influenced The Mahatmadeeply by his living contact. From this, we can accept the gist of the play, we have sufficient indication for this acceptance.
THE PLAY
This is not a subject that is amenable to a theatre presentation; this is more suited to motion cinema. Adapting the story to the stage presents several challenges : how does one write the script to fully show, with power and sufficient impact, the change in beliefs and thoughts, personality and attitude of a simple man with normal failings and weaknesses into one of the greatest living souls to walk our holy land? How did this incredible transformation happen? The limits of space, time, content and technology seem insurmountable – at first sight. At least, until someone of the caliber of this team steps in and decides to do the seemingly impossible!






The aspect that impressed me the most was the innovative usage of characters : normally you have one person playing a part – here, we had two different people playing the part of The Mahatma, which was a treat, as due to this single seminal decision of the Team, the message of the play became all the more clear and strong. This understanding requires a more than basic knowledge of the actual history of The Mahatma is the most siginificant downside to this. Nonetheless, even to normal viewers, the message ought to have been more than clear.

Due to this, i.e.two people playing The Mahatma, a few significant advantages were achieved. You could see a flashback almost as you would in a cinema. Second, you get to see The Mahatma in two stages of his life at the same time on the stage : making crystal clear the massive difference that had come in him by the time of his last years. History is clear – The Mahatmawas increasingly isolated during the last years of his life, which is forcefully brought home through this as you get to see the juxtaposition of the young and the old Mahatma. The palpable difference in approach as well as personality was there for all to see – the confident, at times brash, yet sensitive young man, and the painfully old isolated elder Mahatma. Third, it becomes believable, when you see two different people portray the two stages of a long life; this is the advantage of the Drama genre as opposed to movies.


The core – the personality change, belief formation of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi as he slowly transforms into what he finally became is also put forward with panache and elan; you have to keep in mind the limitations of the genre – theatre / drama – and within those limitations, what is there is actually stupendous. This is, as far as I recall from my readings as documented on my blog, alongwith a few not yet reviewed there {The Story of My Experiments with the Truth; Jinnah, Partition, Independence; India’s Struggle for Independence etc} – close to documented history. That said, such is the power of the play  – due to its remarkably amazing perfomances, useage of stage space, direction and props – that I could actually hear two ladies sitting behind me, enraptured and commenting how they didn’t know this aspect of history. Now that is true praise – as it comes from somone not an expert on the topic, and yet was sufficiently impressed by it to comment as such.
CONCLUSION
Yes, there were weaknesses – but they weren’t mission critical, and some of these were further limitations imposed by the genre adopted for the adaptation of this story. There is actually little more you can do to show this exceptionally hard change-over from one personality type to another, deeper and far more powerful personality type. Thus far, I have focused only on The Mahatma – not on the central character. That is by design. Suffice it to say that I am stunned by this majesty and the power of the personality, views and transparent genius of Shri Raichandbhai Mehta. To know more – please watch the play!
The Best part about the play is it serves to give a series of exemplary lessons to us about the deep aspects of the purpose of our life, our approach towards it, dharm, and duties etc. These are driven home to superb anecdotal evidence-based presentations, and sheer class of a performance and direction. One dialogue and anecdote has stayed with me – “mag kaay dharmaache paalan fakt sanvaari, ravivari karaave kaa?” Translation – So, one should follow dharm only on festivals and auspicious days only? This was the response of Raichandbhai on being asked how do you do business while strictly following Dharm? A simple, hard-hitting question. And observation – you should follow a dharmic life in all aspects, which is also what the Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta says… all in all, if it were feasible, I would rate it 7 stars out of 5! 

Movie Review – Ek Unaad Divas & Its Life Lessons

Published June 22, 2017 by vishalvkale

There are few movies that stick in your mind, entertain you & teach you a life lesson; as well as pull you back to them every once in a while… this movie, Ek Unaad Divas – is one of them. Great pity that this is in Marathi – for this is one movie that needs to be made in Hindi so that ever larger number of people can watch, enjoy and live & change their lives by it! That said, Hindi movie industry just doesn’t have the required depth to make a movie of this caliber. Sad, but true.
THE PLOT
The concept is simple – a highly paid, top corporate hot-shot, portrayed by Ashok Saraf, gets forced into loaning his car for the day to a client, who has just closed a 5-Cr order. And on that very day, Taxis are on strike – so he has to walk back. On the way, he runs into his childhood friend – a lower-middle class man earning 2453/- per month. The hot-shot, Vishwas Dabholkar {Saraf}, and the friend end up having lunch – a life-turning experience for the big man, as he is stunned by the happy outlook of his companion!
The rest of the movie is a roller-coaster as the wonder-struck Dabholkar, stunned by his experience with the poorer friend, walks through the streets to his office with a newly broadened approach towards life. Along the way, we get to learn, or rather, re-learn life – through the eyes & experiences of Vishwas Dabholkar, who interacts with life around him with a newly defined approach towards life – an open, happy approach, savouring many moments and leaving us many, many lessons for us.
THE LESSONS
The movie gets heart-wrenching, yet warming, as the hot-shot big man, walking through the small streets to his office, runs into many unfortunate souls, poor people and people from all walks of life – and yet impacting them in a nice way, helping them in their troubles, thinking – for once – not of self or own family, but of others. That in itself is a big learning, that it doesn’t take too much effort to be nice to other people, and that one can be good to people regardless of their stature, age or social standing
Another hard-hitting lesson is the detachment of “My Achievements, this is me, etc” from the self : forgetting one’s Ego… which can lead to seeing the wonder in so many people and instances in life. My own experience, which was forced on me, taught me this not so long ago – when I learnt a lot from my students, 20 years my junior, when I was a visiting faculty to them. If they are reading this – thanks for showing me a side of life I had forgotten all about; in your youthful openness, optimism and approach I learnt a life lesson, a management lesson, as well as made me a better manager all in one.
These and many many other small lessons in the movie, which  are really important for modern life – the real value of money & sharing, the importance of thinking of the other person, the value of being selfless, understanding the needs of others, being basically a nice person – all those things which the modern metrosexual educated person calls impractical, like things concerning values / ethics / decency / honesty / fun / caring for others –  make this movie one-of-a-kind, and kind of special. This movie shall remain one of the most memorable movies and life experiences for me; I for one shall never forget this movie. My personal thanks to the entire staff involved in making this movie, and teaching me a life lesson!
We take life so seriously – our jobs, our money, our career – even our family, our children’s careers & lives, that somewhere along the line we forget to live. We are so enraptured by the trappings of life, of its attachments, its pulls that we ourselves don’t realise the damage we our doing ourselves and our society. The money will remain here when we die – that apart, by being too focused, we forget the small pleasures of life – something that makes us automatons, machines almost; running after success and money all the time. This pressure even translates to extreme pressure on our children, as we insanely drive them for marks, not on the knowledge & education, as well as the right values… is this the way to live? Go after success, money, ego forgetting the small pleasures & values of life, the importance not just of your own self, but of everyone in your life – small or big in stature… do we ever stop to think?  

A word about the story, editing and the characterization – awesome. One word I had promised – and one word it is, without qualification – awesome. The dreamers have created one hell of an awesome product. The best part is that it is a fun watch; a hugely entertaining movie throughout. There is only one song in them movie – and what a song! Hur Hur Aste Teech Uri, Divas Baraa Ke Ratra Bari! An unforgettable number that will grow on you with its melodious tones &classy lyrics. All in all, this is a tremendous and near perfect movie that is a must watch by anyone who understands Marathi. While it teaches a lot of lessons, changes you as a person, forces you to ask youself some deep questions – it does so in a gently, fun, decent and entertaining way. As the last scene fades away you are left refreshed! 

Movie Review – Fugay

Published February 10, 2017 by vishalvkale

Not many movies make it to my blog; which is themed around India as a whole – from Indian Books to Culture to History to Economics & Trade. Thus, I perforce limit myself to only the movies which impress me the most; and in this, Fugay score big time! In 10 years of writing, and 5 of blogging, I have reviewed only around 10 movies, maybe 12 – and Fugay is one of them. This movie is, in my opinion – one of the best I have ever watched in its genre; I can think of only two other movies that are either better, or comparable : Golmal, and Angur. Period.
Image result for fugay movie

THE PLOT
The movie is a mix of a comedy and a horror movie : 99% comedy, 1% horror. The source of the horror is that the plot can actually happen in real life; no jokes. At any rate, something quite similar. Do photographs appear in newspapers? Yes, they do – am aware of two instances in family & friends. {None were embarrassing, thank God!} Do things get blown out of proportion, do people overreact in marriages? Of course they do! Are you kidding me? Do embarrassing snaps get circulated? You don’t really want an answer to that in the modern multimedia age, do you? And so on and so forth. If you stretch it just a little bit, it is entirely plausible that the mix-up in the movie can happen! 😀
This is a story of two nutcases – I mean that – two people who are bonkers, dedicated bonkers. Close friends for two decades plus; the proverbial Chuddi Baddis. One decides to get married, and to a rather, shall we say, possessive lady {understatement of the century}. To cut a short story  shorter, the two pals decide to  go to Goa  for a bachelor party. One problem. Just one tiny teensy weensy problem, known across the planet by the term “fiance”. These nutcases don’t tell the only person who should have known the whole story – the fiance. And boss, trust me, you don’t pull such stunts if you are sane.
The lady takes it upon herself {of course, what else? Kamaal karte ho yaar!} to check for herself. And the proof that the man – any man, you n me included – is fundamentally a lunatic – the lady has been told the location, and not the whole story! {This – not to tell half- or quarter- or 1/8ths or 1/16thss of the truth to your wife –  is a lesson you learn after marriage, so madness excusable!!!!!} And so, she walks in to meet the apple of her eye, the love of her life, in, shall we say, less that ideal circumstances. Nopes – no lady involved, and no guy either. Just a genuine misunderstanding! It takes the much chastened pals the rest of the movie to untangle it all!
THE REVIEW
If you want to laugh for 2 hours and 5 minutes without a break, watch this movie. And yes, attend to any and all calls of nature before you walk in to the theatre; people are going to be far too busy laughing their heads off to fill you in; and you might just miss some class puns and jokes! In all my life, I have never seen a movie –not after Golmal and Angur – which had me laughing throughout, and not one minute involving any slapstick comedy, hamming, overacting, cheap and vulgar jokes etc. Just genuine situational stuff, superbly woven together. That is why this gets 5 stars out of 5; good, clean, decent, genuine comedy! 
Which brings me to the script – the script is nice, taut and fast moving. So far as I could tell, there wasn’t a minute wasted. No meandering, dithereing, no side-tracks, nothing. Just a tight fastpaced script that gallops along at a lovely steady pace, keeping you enthralled. The entire team has stuck to ; one theme, and one theme alone. The comic scenes are created using the situation, and one of the prevalent socio-cultural themes intertwined together, which create a genuine laughter riot. You will also note that I make no comparison with any Hindi Movie {I wont even mention the name}; there is zero commonality. This story is completely different and unique!
The performances are all round excellent; my initial thought was how will the script manage the two – Subodh and Swapnil, balance them in screen time, performances, roles etc. Kudos –this has been superbly managed; and both have, true to their style, skills and reputation, pulled off unforgettable performances. Prarthana impresses again, in a relatively small but vital role. Without her role, Aditya would have married Jaai within the first 25 minutes of the script and no movie would have been scripted!  Special mention for a heart-stealing performance by the thespian Mohan Joshi!
The best part is the music – not too much, only two or three songs, and both very, very hummable with lovely tunes and lyrics both. My favourite is Kaahi Kale Tula Kaahi Kale Malaa, a nice and soft number. The absence of needless songs makes this script even more taut, keeps the narrative nice, fast and taut; and the puns flowing, keeping you in splits. If you recall, this is exactly what both Golmal and Angur did. Now you can add one more to this august list : Fugay, easily one of the best movies I have watched! 
In conclusion, I must add a word for the Marathi genre; it is now far ahead of Hindi in terms of freshness, lack of vulgarity, newness of scripts, lovely soft music, and great finished products! To me, Swapnil, Subodh, Prarthana, Sai, Jitendra, Upendra, Mohan, Mahesh M, Ankush, Mukta are far bigger pulls now than the Hindi stars; the credit for that must go to everyone in the Marathi Cinema Trade – Keep it up, people!

Movie Review : Baghtos Kay… Mujra Kar!

Published February 4, 2017 by vishalvkale

Image result for baghtos kay mujra kar

I normally review very few select movies which to me are best-in-class and elite; only those that I either find superlative {as one of my friends was noting on fb today}, or those with some kind of social message. The movie being reviewed today, Baghtos Kaay… Muzraa Kar, is one of the latter category;  a  Marathi movie. What makes this movie so different is this is a movie with a message, and is also simultaneously fun to watch; with two other factors also thrown in, which I shall get to by and by.

Image result for baghtos kay mujra kar
THE PLOT
The plot is simple – a sarpanch of a village of Malvans, the villagers whom The Chhatrapati recruited and turned into his army, laments the state of the forts of the great Maratha Kiing, Chhatrapati Shivaji; even as the great legend continues to hold sway over entire Maharashtra, and I daresay large parts of India as well. Most Indians will readily concede his greatness. Despite this, his forts lie in ruin or at least not as well cared for as they should be. The movie revolves around his dream of turning the local fort into a well cared for spot that attracts visitors, and how his attempts take him into politics, and focuses around his attempts to win support for his endeavour.  
THE REVIEW
The movie is a great watch, and is a very enjoyable movie with a nice script, reasonably well crafted. It is a simple movie, in the sense there is no extravagance or over the top stuff. It has lovely genuinely comic moments which make for a very enjoyable watch,  and help overcome the drag. The start, most of the middle and the climax will win your heart and tug at your emotions; the middle part will make you laugh a lot, genuinely funny stuff, situational comedy. The problem is that the script meanders just a little for 10-15 minutes in the middle part; that could have been avoided. Normally, this would have been enough for me not to review it, had it not had major saving factors acting in its favour.
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{Jitendra Joshi}

And these are, firstly, the performance of Jitendra Joshi. Man, what a performance! He blew me away with his superb performance. I have seen him earlier in Duniaadaari and the classic film Sumbaraan, but this time he has matured as an actor, and has almost single-handedly carried the movie on his shoulders. The way he simply blends into the character, the way his face and eyes show the expressions, was incredible. It was a display of top notch conviction, and it made my day.
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The music is nothing to write home about, except the song Tu Aan Punhaa Re Ti Talwaar, a very hummable and fast paced theme song, which kind of grows on you. One wishes the other songs were as good. As I said earlier, the script could have been tighter, making for a much more compact product. Nonetheless, what is there is way more than enough; given that an Economics + History + Social blogger like me is reviewing the movie. This movie joins a list which I consider elite – Raees, Pink, Coffee Aani Barach Kaahi, Shivaay, Katyaar Kaalzat Ghusli, Lokmanya Ek Yugpurush, PK
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What makes this movie stand out is the other factors involved; first was the performance of Jitendra Joshi. Second aspect is the social message – it is fine that we make statues of those we value; but what about actually caring for them and their true heritage? I made this point in two or three previous posts; we call people our heroes, but ignore their heritage. In the case of Chhatrapati Shivaji, I can safely say that by and large, his heritage is also intact; people do value him. But if we value him so much, how hard can it be to ensure upkeep as well as visits to his locations?
The third aspect that makes this movie special is simply this : for the first time I have seen a movie that openly declares of the English, when the lead actors visit London as part of their plan : whatever they have is built from stolen money, stolen from us… or words to that effect! This is bound to be heard and seen by the audience who sees this; and will impress at least some of the viewers. This is a message that sorely needs to be told, and I personally loved it. As it is, I am in the middle of a by now 8-year hunt for the true and full detailed story behind our Colonial History, and this made connect with my heart big-time! Well said, Team Bhaghtos Kaay!
The fourth take-away is the extent of the contemporary feeling for, and relevance of Chhattrapati Shivaji in Modern India, or at least Maharashtra. This was a pleasure to experience; the response from the audience, the clapping, the whistling, the applause had to be experienced. And, for the first time, I too joined in, with applause in two or three places. It happened spontaneously, and I just went along with the atmosphere, discovering for myself how deep the connect of Chhatrapati Shivaji is with me… I had read and reviewed a book on The Chhatrapati, but this was something else, something deeper, a lovely, deep connect and feeling of pride and warmth! Great movie, people! 

Movie : Coffee Aani Barach Kaahi

Published May 23, 2016 by vishalvkale

I am not a movie reviewer, or blogger; but every once in a while, I come across a movie that leaves a deep impression, an impression spanning every aspect of the movie; which is what moves me to pen my thoughts on the aforesaid movie… the movie under review, Coffee Aani Barach Kaahi, is one such – a lovely light romantic movie that is, for me, unforgettable; one I can watch any number of times – like Mumbai-Pune-Mumbai….

THE CHARACTERS
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Jaai  {Prarthana Behere} – idealistic, highly romantic yet reserved, knows what she wants – for sure; stubborn as a mule – she wont say it. No sir, not her. Not even when pigs fly!


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Nishad {Vaibhav Tatwawdi} – Balanced, yet uncertain; competent in everything… except matters of the heart; practical even in love {what can I say? You try and talk sense into him!}. Boss, Nishad – the lady wont, repeat wont, say it. Your call, buddy.


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Abha {Neha Mahajan} – Vivacious, extroverted, open-minded, confident… and yup, kid sister to Jaai. Dont listen to her, Jaai- she doesn’t know Nishad, so her – aah, strategies – don’t count!


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Anish {Bhushan Pradhan} – comes to “see” Jaai, falls for Neha in the first scene; the frontispiece of the movie. A real gem – people like him are rare, and special… steals the show, almost…


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Paresh {Sandesh Kulkarni} – Without him, there is no movie. Cafe owner, and luckily for one person, one central character – the only other person with some sense of romance, Anish apart.
THE STORY
The story is one of a blossoming love between Nishad and Jaai… neither will say it for one excellent reason or another, both realise that the other person is THE person for them; one is stubborn as a mule, and with old-fashioned romantic ideas – Jaai wont say it, not ever, not her. Nishad? He wont either, for entirely different reasons. Not him – not ever, no way. NIshad is too uncertain, full of doubts, and reticent while being mature and balanced, and a deeply impressive personality; Jaai idealistic & romantic, wont take the first step. And she doesn’t – right till the very last climactic scene, when she stands dumb as a dodo, but no sir – she will NOT say it.

The difference is in the nut n bolts of the story; it has been presented as a flashback which tells a lovely heart-warming tale of falling in love; this has been interlaced with the scene of Nishad waiting for Jaai at the cafe for their “critical “ meeting. The flashback is in a conversation between Jaai and Anish – who has come with his parents to discuss marriage; Jaai tells Anish the story of her love when he bluntly asks – who is coming between us, as it is apparent to him that the lady isn’t interested. In that one scene – you get to really like Anish… Nishad – what can I say? The waiting scene at the cafe, which turns into hours, is when he starts talking with Paresh, the owner… 
THE REVIEW
Love is a subject that has been dealt with threadbare in movies; but if you dismiss this movie basis this fact, you will miss a movie that I call one of the best movies to come out of India in any language. This is a movie that grows on you, whose characters grow on you and entangle you in their story; a movie that is deeply engaging, practical and very, very realistic; a movie with zero melodrama, and a movie that creates a deep connect with the audience.
How do you attract, and keep audience interest in such a well-worn subject? By creating scenery and storylines, presenting fresh yet talented faces that have no audience expectations and hang-ups, dialogues and a presentation that tugs at heart strings, is very mature and balanced, and is something we can all relate to; something that is bubbly, full of life, soft and very engaging and lovable at first sight almost. This is not a trick that is easy to pull off – and this is where the movie succeeds big time; it has taken an old concept, and made it sufficiently fresh and different, that is carves a pedestal all for its lonesome.
The magic is in the treatment of the story, the dialogues, the situations presented, and the overall presentation and style. There is a complete absence of any melodrama, as the story unfolds beautifully along practical and close-to-real-life situations; there are no needless twists – and yet, the narrative is sufficiently taut, managing to keep you riveted right from the first scene quite literally, and keep you engaged right till the last scene when that idiot finally says it… {sorry Nishad}
The real beauty is in the sacrifice of the narrative speed; while the narrative of the movie is nice and taut – yet, in places, it has been deliberately allowed to meander here and there; these meanderings are very adroitly handled, and add to the story as well as the depth of the characters. Be it the reminiscence of an old couple on their 50thanniversary, or the interchange between the sisters- very scene is thoughtfully crafted, taking the story forward in some way. There isn’t a wasted scene in the entire movie from start to finish, and that is the most incredible part. This helps in creating a deep connect between the audience and the story, and a deeply absorbing tale unfolds.
If it is an Indian movie – there must be music; and songs – and the movie doesn’t disappoint, with some classy numbers. The songs aren’t too many, and are not forced either, which is great. The music is by Late Shri Gajanan Vatve and  Aditya Bedekar. One song that stands out is one that is also emblematic of the entire movie – different, yet loveable… Rang He Nave Nave, Duniya Hai Nai Nai; Mornings Are Just Magical, Shaame Bhi Hain Surmayee…. a mix of three languages…
The performances are universally excellent; that said – a word has to be said for Neha Mahajan, whose portrayal of Abha is real class. She steals the show – almost; as does Bhushan Pradhan, who in his portrayal of Anish, brings maturity and incredible balance through his impressive controlled performance. You of course get to like Prarthana as Jaai… But the movie, in my opinion, belongs to Vaibhav who steals the show despite having the least lines.. a superply controlled and soulful performance, with at times just his eyes doing the talking… truly class.

All in all, rated 5 stars. In my list, one of the best movies I have ever seen… in a list that has LOC Kargil, Golmaal, Angur, Mangalashtak Once More, Sumbaran, Ek Unaad Divas…