‘I was quite charmed by the adept handling of a simple (yet complicated!) subject and had my share of laughs and tears by the time the curtain fell,’ observes Nitin Sathe after watching the superhit Baipan Bhari Deva.
Coming out of the movie hall with moist eyes, I realised that we had just been through a movie which had taken us through many aspects of life, some (or all?) of which many of us in the audience could relate to.
Reminiscing later, I could not but go through some of the scenes in the movie which related to my life too, and I wondered if the learnings from the reel life could be put to use in real life.
I am not one for the movies, and going for a Marathi film to a theatre was not something that I had ever thought about doing, ever.
My mother was turning 85 and someone suggested that a nice way to celebrate the milestone would be to take her for a movie.
So Baipan Bhari Deva was decided upon, of course, after checking with friends and the reviews available.
The movie had done well since its release and had recorded the highest earnings for a Marathi film, and therefore, the choice was simple.
Just a handful of people in the hall was suggestive of the fact the initial hullabaloo of the movie had waned.
I, being the sceptical kind and going against my grain, carried a feeling that this movie experience wasn’t going to be too great, getting into the theatre.
I was soon to be proved wrong.
The movie has been scripted well by Vaishali Naik and directed even better by Kedar Shinde, the man who directed a similar film in 2004 — Aga Bai Arrecha!
Kedar has also scripted and directed a number of super-hit Marathi plays. With age, the director has become better with his work, it is apparent as the movie revealed itself.
Set in Mumbai from the 1970s to the present, the story revolves around the lives of 6 sisters who are now between 40 and 60; their happy childhood dreams and differences then, and in the present — the completely different lives they lead.
Lives, in which they cannot pursue their dreams and be themselves; instead, forced to live for others.
It showcases their individual battles with relationships, menopause, ageing and many other torrents and torments of life.
Rohini Hattangadi (Jaya or Mai as she is called as the senior) plays the eldest sister while Vandana Gupte (Shashi) is the gregarious sister who, despite her own set of insecurities, has a desire to get them all together once again.
She is the Mrs ‘Know-all’ who seems to understand what her siblings are going through and has answers for each of their problems whilst being oblivious to her own.
The other sisters are played by Sukanya Kulkarni (Sadhana), Suchitra Bandekar (Pallavi), Shilpa Navalkar (Ketaki). Deepa Parab plays the youngest of the lot (Charu).
All the actresses have been super hit heroines in their time and fit into their roles extremely well.
The male roles are short but beautifully done; especially the angry father-in-law played by Sharad Ponkshe, and the calming personality of Satish Joshi who plays Tarun Desai, Hattangadi’s husband.
All in all, each of the actors, even those who have small parts, have done justice to their roles and deserve all praise.
The movie traces the life of each of the six sisters who get married into different families to lead completely different lives; some divorced and widowed, some having problems with their husbands, some with their in-laws, some with their children.
Each of the complications that they face force them away from the lives that they dream of living, and that obviously leads them to internalise these conflicts, never to be discussed, even with their own.
Shashi, in a bid to not be outdone by someone, (I don’t want to let out the whole plot here!) enters into a group dance competition — Manglagauri — and gets all her siblings together, all of whom join in reluctantly, going against the norms of their present lives.
The re-bonding of the ‘girls’ now happens over the many practice sessions that they must do to bag the coveted prize they all want to win for different reasons.
While doing so, the director aptly brings out facts and facets of their suppressed lives by going back and forth in time after every few shots in the present, taking cue from what happens in the interactions during the sessions.
It is difficult time mentally and physically for the ladies, who finally manage to help each other to find their feet on the dance floor as well as in life despite their differences.
I felt that the initial part of the movie could have been much shorter.
The director introduces each of the main players through some incident or other over the first half hour, keeping the viewer getting fidgety to get the plot moving.
The intelligent viewer, however, can visualise where it all is heading to, but has to wait for the intermission and beyond for the main plot of the story to unfold.
I for one was more keen to see how the women break their shackles and bond together into a happy bunch much sooner.
The outdoor ‘natural’ settings of Mumbai are nice, but it appears that the production people want to save on money needed to make elaborate indoor sets.
The excellent acting and direction more than adequately makes up for this and the producers, therefore, can be pardoned!
Vandana Gupte and Sukanya Kulkarni are at their best although one feels that Rohini Hattangadi’s talent wasn’t exploited enough since she has a much smaller role than the rest.
The film is a must see for the middle class woman (on second thoughts, every woman whatever be the class), both urban and rural, who can relate to the many ‘womanly’ issues that have been touched upon in the movie.
In my opinion, it has many a take away for our men too, since it may help them to understand and respect sensitive issues relating to the opposite sex better.
For those who aren’t comfortable with the Marathi language, appropriate and good English sub-titles do not take away any zing from the movie.
I was quite charmed by the adept handling of a simple (yet complicated!) subject and had my share of laughs and tears by the time the curtain fell.
As my mother remarked at the end of the show, “Nice movie, but, whilst we must learn to respect our past, we must also learn to adopt to changing times!”
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Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com
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