What a successful film teaches us is indeed illuminating. The stupendous success of “Kaksparsh” (pronounced “Kaaksparsh”) – with shows running “Housefull’ in the third week even at expensive Mumbai multiplexes proves that a well-crafted film that is also well-mounted and made with conviction and passion will also connect big-time with the audiences.
True to form, the reviews (the Marathi critic brigade is as ‘pseudo’ as their Hindi counterparts, if not worse) are mixed, but the sustained excellent word-of-mouth and collections shows that the audience is indeed more intelligent. Even my viewing was postponed by a day because the shows were going “Housefull” – in the advance booking stage itself on weekdays in the third week!
The film also proves, yet again after his track-record that includes just one success in Hindi (his debut film “Vaastav” in 1998 among over 12 films!) and his sustained run in Marathi cinema (check “Aai,” “Mee Shivajiraje Bhosale Boltoy”), that Manjrekar should stick to making Marathi films. They are his forte, his core strength, and today, they are not even infra-dig in status to Hindi cinema! A classic case is his well-made Hindi “City Of Gold,” a commercial disaster even as its Marathi version became a hit!
This film, by virtue of its base (a novel by Usha Datar set in the pre-Independence era of Gandhiji’s Dandi March) reflects a traditional, orthodox and in many ways, regressive society. And one ‘intellectual’ critic even ran it down stating that it was encouraging regressive thought in some aspects as a film ‘always’ makes a statement. Nothing could be more ridiculous as a theory, simply because the audiences always want well-told stories irrespective of genre that make their investment in time and money worth their while. Whether you base your film on a real-life or fictional source, it remains the filmmaker’s prerogative to interpret and execute it.
Here, Manjrekar narrates the story of Hari (Sachin Khedekar), head and decision maker of a joint family (despite his widowed maternal aunt being around) who has a clear value system that is a mix of the progressive and the orthodox. He marries off his younger brother Mahadev (Abhijit Kelkar) to 14 year old Durga (Ketaki Mategaonkar), rechristened Uma after marriage.
As per tradition, a function is arranged when Uma attains puberty, and Mahadev, studying law in Mumbai, is summoned. Tragedy strikes when Mahadev dies and all hell breaks loose when Hari refuses to have Uma’s hair tonsured. Though ever faithful to his wife Tara (Medha Manjrekar), he is suspected of having an illicit relationship with Uma, even by his wife, simply because he has not allowed her to go back to her parents, or even remarry, or on the other hand, get her hair tonsured and live ostracized from the main house, as was the lot of widows then.
The whopper twist at the end that explains the seeming inconsistencies in his thought processes and actions is extremely convincing and the end decidedly justified in the social context of those times. Girish Joshi’s script and lines are excellent, and even the convoluted script is justified because of the material in the story.
A special mention of Prashant Rane and Abhishek Vijayakar for their magnificently authentic sets and art direction is in order. The camerawork (Ajit Reddy) sets the mood, but the background music (Ajit-Samir) is overdone. The songs are an asset, especially “Janma aaichaa” and “Ugavalaa narayana” with brilliant lyrics by Kishore Kadam. Manjrekar adopts a flashback form of narration with inter-cuts to the present and the impact of Hari revealing a secret withheld from even from his closest friend Balwant Phadke (Sanjay Khapare) is tremendous in the post-climax.
The film is elevated hugely by the performances of the entire cast. While Khedekar gives one of his finest performances, special mention among the rest must be made of Ketaki Mategaonkar as the young Uma and Priya Bapat as the older one, Medha Manjrekar, a natural scene-stealer as Tara, Hari’s patient and affectionate wife, Abhijit Kelkar as Mahadev, Sanjay Khapare as Balwant, Vaibhav Mangle as the evil Upadhyaya and Savita Malpekar as Aatya, the maternal aunt who is jealous of the freedom Uma has since she got widowed and yet is fond of her.
Watch this one. It’s a unique love story that is only complete in the last two minutes of its gripping narration.
Zee Talkies & The Great Maratha Entertainment Ltd.’s
Produced by: ANIRUDDHA DESHPANDE & MEDHA MANJREKAR
Directed by: MAHESH WAMAN MANJREKAR
Music: RAHUL RANADE, AJIT-SAMIR
Written by: USHA DATAR & GIRISH JOSHI
Starring: SACHIN KHEDEKAR, PRIYA BAPAT, MEDHA MANJREKAR, KETAKI MATEGAONKAR, ABHIJIT KELKAR, VAIBHAV MANGLE, MANVA NAIK, SAVITA MALPEKAR, SANJAY KHAPARE & SAKSHAM KULKARNI