Friday, February 04, 2011

Marathi Cinema - Dawn Of A New Beginning

A movie buff that I am, cinema has always been one of the major sources’ of entertainment for me, Bollywood being my favourite. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I haven’t seen much Marathi movies and can only name few Marathi actors correctly. I won’t say I have been consciously avoiding films of my own mother tongue, but it is true that they never caught as much interest (barring a few exceptionals).

Pinjra, Maaficha Sakshidar, Chaukat Raja, Mumbaicha Faujdar, and a few otehrs have been classics. While in the recent past, films like Shwaas, Mi Shivaji Raje Bhosale Boltoye, Dombivali Fast, Vihir, Valu, Gabhricha Paaus, Natarang, Jogwa, Mumbai-Pune-Mumbai, Pak Pak Pakaak, Lalbaug Paral, Mee Shindutai Sapkal, Jatra, Haapus, and many more (these are the ones that came to my mind instantly as I was writing this) are not only worth watching, but they have brought about a complete renaissance in the industry! My mistaken point of view towards Marathi films has been completely erased and now I enjoy them like never before, I even prefer watching them on the big screen! Marathi cinema has been as rich and entertaining for that matter, but the new blood in the industry is definitely carrying forward the legacy in a polished manner (of course, under the guidance of their seniors).

Criticizing and complaining about the lack of freshness, new ideas, risks and a realistic theme seems to have become bygones with a completely new approach and talent that Marathi cinema has been blessed with in the past half a decade.

The age-old standard techniques used in our films and cringing about the woeful lack of good films made by directors with potential seems to have fading and paving new ways for those who are ready to challenge or face their critics on the front foot. If you believe in quality films then it might be a good idea to catch a few Marathi films that have released in the last five years and have infused fresh blood in a sagging industry.

So much so, that even Bollywood stars are now appreciating Marathi cinema and its quality. Many Marathi films have tasted the sweet box office success and have even treaded their paths through some of the national and international film festivals. Bollywood movies that were reining in the multiplex success now see Marathi movies standing next to them in the race.

Those who feared the risk of investing in this league of routine Marathi films, now seem to have been more than pleased to be associated with today’s revolutionary phase that the industry is undergoing. Marathi Film Industry, yes! Now looked at with respect and a new avenue to venture in to, Marathi films are now mushrooming with quality, ideas, techniques and talents to make it a full fledged and an organized industry.

It had a glorious past that has strived to showcase the face of Maharashtra, especially relative to a major audience in the rural and outskirt areas and imaginary for those who lead an urbane life. This had created a vacuum that restricted an interest level among an audience that needed a break from the clich├ęd style and themes. The much needed breakthrough has arrived in the Marathi film industry and it has caught attention of even the non-Marathi audience.

This boom in the industry has proved to be a boon for producers of Marathi cinema who vouch to carry a smile with the success of these movies and overall appreciation. The industry is now flourishing with 100-125 releases per year, yet needs to arrive a decent number of hits that it provides. A complete makeover that this industry is witnessing, it definitely promises to open doors of opportunities for fresh talent in all aspects – be it acting, directing, or even the technical departments.

The Marathi film industry is blessed with the Midas touch of people like Mahesh Manjrekar, Ajay-Atul, Sachin Pilgaonkar, Smita Talwalkar, and the likes. This industry now also boasts of making a style statement with the dressing and make-up that matches standards with its Hindi counterpart. For producers, this industry is like a platter to unleash the undiscovered path and bask in the glory of new heights that it promises to behold. The industry is now graduating in its post-production stages like marketing, promotion, premiers, etc. which were known terms but now are being executed – which if polished, shall work wonders with the money matters in terms of returns.

To watch the kind of approval for the film discussed by those who watch Marathi films on the big screen, is a delight and encouragement for a producer’s hard work! A large number of audiences still need to be attracted to the theatres to start churning the returns on investments and see Marathi films for longer durations on the multiplex screens.

Judging by the changing trend of the last five years, it might not be an exaggeration to say that these small progressive films might just bring back the golden era of the sixties when the likes of V Shantaram and Dadasaheb Phalke changed the face of not just Marathi cinema, but scripted a new chapter of Indian cinema. The recent past in the industry is testimony enough that even small budget films click if they are well planned throughout the pre-production stages. Marathi cinema has proved that with an entry in to the Oscars!

One thing that I like the most about this industry is that it is sans any typical grapevine that its counterpart is engulfed with. It boasts of a much cleaner and friendly atmosphere even among costars (a healthy competition is what can be sensed among them, unlike most of their counterparts) and is far from being westernized, as yet!

Marathi Paaul Padate Pudhe....!!!!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Anil Sonawane to Yashwant Sonawane

Few days back we heard and read of the ruthless murder of Additional DC of Nashik, Yashwant Sonawane. Everyday we get to read various news, stories, profiles in newspapers; that leave us thinking for a while. As I was running through today's newspaper while sipping my morning tea, Manjusha Sonawane's story came in as a shocker!

This was a story of an ordinary woman who earns her bread and butter by working as a domestic help in few families in Pune, but it spoke of her extraordinary (bold and fearless) statement and thoughts. Today she lives hand to mouth because she became a victim of this spineless sarkar one and a half years back. Barely four years in to her married life, Manjusha was living a better life with her husband and in-laws in a small village in Ahmednagar. Her husband, Anil Sonawane, was working as a kotwal at the sand dealers' and was the only bread winner for the family.

He knew of the misconducts going on in this business and also feared threat to his life at some point. After a few days, in July 2009 he died under a tractor carrying sand; which was registered as an accidental death in the police records. However, Sonawane's family and even the villagers believe that he was murdered by the sand mafai. Manjusha lost her husband to some people's selfish gains and cruel acts. This, when she was carrying her second child, soon to be delivered!

She was quoted saying that it came thousands of times to her mind to end her life, but how could a mother leave her children alone in this ruthless world? Her children would be orphaned had she given up on her own life, but she gathered the courage to live on for her children. Lot of efforts have been taken to follow-up her husband's case for justice and compensation for her family, but to no avail.

Manjusha had no option but to leave the village and come to Pune to live with her parents and earn through these means, which wouldn't have been possible in the village. She dreams of educating her children and herself (she has studied until the 9th grade) so that she could earn a decent sum for her children's future.

She reiterates that there is no value for a kotwal's life in the eyes of the government. The poor are orphaned by the inefficient and heartless government. She therefore did not give in to her thoughts of ending her life, looking at her children. Else what difference would remain between the government and me, is what she fearlessly stated! This is definitely a big blow to this sarkar by an ordinary woman, as to what people think about it. She is still waiting and hoping for justice to be done!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

127 Hours!

A beautiful movie indeed, as though crafted especially for the adventure lovers, yet for everyone at the same time! The movie quite aptly depicted the craze that an adventure enthusiast lives with, rather for! They worship nature's beauty and keep treading in pursuit of their religion, Adventure!

Aron Ralston's story in this movie is one which every fellow adventure lover will identify with. Though the movie revolved around a single person stuck in a sure death situation for 127 hours, it kept the audience engaged on the edges of their seats as though experiencing themselves in the same situation! It personified the very survival instinct that mankind is all about. As the film progressed, Aron's desperate measures to free himself from the trap amazes us.

An Engineer by profession, an adventure enthusiast at heart! A very well informed guy about the geography and topography, his mind filled with all sorts of preparation plans and escape routes for every planned adventure to be unfolded, power-packs him with the zeal and guts to conquer it.

While he is trapped in there, all that he runs through his mind are his past mistakes that he should have not committed. He is left lonely in there, and that is the time when he becomes closer to his conscience. All this while as I was almost feeling Aron's experience, I was also flowing in to retrospect of the special adventures that I have done in my life. Be it the Everest Base camp, Kedarkanth trek in Uttaranchal, the Enduro3 Adventure race, treks with Wanderers, biking, cycling... everything was just flashing back in front of me.

These adventures not only take you high on the adrenaline rush, they also take you closer to your own self. Every time you are out and one with nature, it brings you closer to yourself. You talk to yourself, you push yourself, you encourage yourself, you be yourself! This is the time when you look back on your good and bad deeds and thoughts. And as you go further ahead, your mind becomes clearer.

As Aron is shown basking in the luxury of soothing his cold feet in the sun for 15minutes, every drop of water becomes precious; it reminded me of similar experiences on the various adventures I had been to, where we ought not take anything for granted.

The most nerve cracking moment shot in the movie was the one when Aron frees himself from the trap and is limping out of it, at the expense of cutting his own arm! And then, he turns back and says, "Thank you"! A bitter-sweet feeling expressed there by a man who lost his arm, yet came out alive from the sure death situation. The best part is, Aron still continued to pursue his love for adventure after that. That is what exactly replicates an adventure lover's poise! A never say never spirit! They never curse any unfortunate event on their path, but they only seek divine pleasure and positivity. That is what drives them again and again back in to nature's lap. Of course, like Aron did, every new venture omits previous mistakes and gains new learnings and experiences.

Mere words won't do any justice to any such experience or journey! One ought do it to feel it! Loved the movie, love the spirit, love adventures! I thank all my fellow mates with whom I have had opportunities to tread through the beauties of nature. Looking forward for more!