The New Wave of Marathi Cinema

16 Oct


The Guest Writer for this week is Rasik Tirodkar.

In the last few years cinema has really caught my attention. During the same period the “Marathi manoos” politics has repeatedly embarrassed me as a Maharashtrian. So I take solace in the lovely cinema that the Marathi film industry is churning out consistently. I try to promote it in every way I can. So when my friend Kunal asked me whether I can write something about the present marathi cinema on this blog, I was game.

It all started with ‘Shwaas’. The film which released in the year 2004 created quite a flutter with its sensitive portrayal of a delicate story. Since then there has been no stopping Marathi cinema.

The great Satyajit Ray was of the opinion that cinema being a visual medium, the visuals as a whole should be more prominently used to convey a thought than only the dialogues or only the background music which normally is the case with most Indian movies. This idea of cinema completely appeals to me. What good is cinema if it is nothing but theatre on screen? Pleasingly, there have been few Marathi movies in the last few years which I feel Mr.Ray would certainly have approved of.

1. Vihir(The Well)

The film tries to explore the existential crisis that adolescents tend to go through. Written by Girish Pandurang Kulkarni, Vihir has characters so real that you can’t help identify them with a person you know. The seemingly simple but very deep and layered story is haunting.Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni keeps things subtle and never tries to over-simplify. The allegory of hide and seek with life and death is mind-blowing. Sudhir Palsane has done a terrific job by making the visuals speak for themselves.  Around 20 minutes in the film are purely meditative, no dialogues. If you have been to your nana-nani’s place for vacations don’t miss this one at any cost. You will surely be reminded of all those wonderful and not so wonderful moments that you spent with your cousins. If there is one film in the last decade that Indian cinema should be proud to show it to the whole world, it would be this one.

2. Gandha(The Smell)

How many movies have you seen which treat the sense of ‘smell’ as an integral part of the story? Gandha is one such inventive piece of cinema written and directed by Sachin Kundalkar. The film actually has three independent stories narrated in the most captivating manner. The only bond that three stories share is that the protagonists of each story are going through experiences deeply involving the sense of smell. Each story has its own style and mood.

My personal favourite being the third, A Woman Sitting Aside, which captures what a woman in rural India is made to go through when she is having her periods. The subtlety, the acting by Neena Kulkarni, the astonishing cinematography, the layers in the storytelling makes this segment of Gandha an all-time favourite. Watch this one with all eyes, ears and noses!

3. Gabhricha Paus(The Damned Rain)

This one is a tale of a farmer Kisna’s struggle to grow cotton in Vidarbha. Poverty porn? Well, you can’t be anymore wrong if you think so. Mainly because writer-director Satish Manwar has very effectively used what you call ‘dark humor’ in the film which has rarely been used in Indian cinema. Astonishingly, you actually end up smiling through most of the film. Sudhir Palsane’s photography takes the film to a different level. Courtesy the cinematography, Vidarbha becomes a character which you can somehow feel is screaming.

Movie poster

4. Harishchandrachi Factory

The last and probably the most popular of all the movies in this list. Harishchandrachi Factory is an extraordinary attempt to portray the efforts that Dadasaheb Phalke would have put in to make India’s first feature film, Raja Harishchandra. Paresh Mokashi who is the writer as well as the director of this film opts for a comic approach which is also slapstick at times. However, it doesn’t undermine even one bit the significance of Dadasaheb Phalke’s effort. Therein lays the beauty of the film. Phalke who reportedly was a jolly fellow himself couldn’t have got a more apt tribute.

A still from the movie

In spite of the above mentioned movies and quite a few others, Marathi Cinema still hasn’t got the appreciation from the mainstream media neither has it set the cash registers ringing. Living under the shadow of Bollywood might be the reason. But it is high time that the Marathi speaking audience comes to the cinema halls and promotes such cinema. The soft power inherent in the art of cinema is much more likely to help Marathi culture gain the respect of the society(especially Mumbai) than any campaign of any political party.

Rasik Tirodkar is currently studying for his CA. Cinema is a newfound love. He blames the World Wide Web solely for that. He is head over heels in love with the current marathi cinema.

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14 Responses to “The New Wave of Marathi Cinema”

  1. akila venkat October 16, 2011 at 6:56 am #

    That was a very well and crisply written article on marathi cinema—the still unexplored side by me. I did not feel like skipping even a line! 🙂
    I shall make sure, I watch all of these as soon as possible.
    I was hoping for NATRANG but seems its not in his top 4 list 🙂

    • Kunal October 16, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

      I don’t think it was a list as such. Natarang has got a lot of publicity and perhaps he was trying to stick to the theme about Satyajit Ray saying cinema should be a visual medium. So he picked movies that fit into that 🙂

    • Rasik Tirodkar October 16, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

      First of all thank you very much 🙂

      On Natrang, Kunal is spot on. The film worked mainly because of its basic plot(which is adapted from a book), the music, atul kulkarni’s performance and the huge publicity. I didn’t feel the director used the visual feature of cinema very well.

    • Rasik Tirodkar October 16, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

      And you can start off with Gandha which is available on youtube with subtitles.

      Here’s the link-

      Vihir is not available on the internet easily. So if you feel like watching that one too I will email the link to you.

  2. Shivanand October 16, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    Just a few thoughts:
    There are several issues plaguing the Marathi film industry. I think the issues are very basic and have a lot to do with things other than the films per se.

    Firstly, the problem with Marathi cinema is that, obviously, the language is one which is understood by a select few of the huge population in India. And going by the scene in Mumbai today, there are barely any Maharashtrians or people who understand Marathi. How is it then possible for the public to understand and identify with any of the movies? On the other hand, the Hindi film industry thrives on the fact that every person can understand any Hindi film and will therefore make a trip to the theater to watch a Hindi film! A Marathi film cannot be released outside Maharashtra due to this very problem.

    Secondly, outside Mumbai, either within Maharashtra or beyond, there are very few people who can afford to watch movies, either due to financial constraints or time constraints, or both. Therefore, the issue of the inability of Marathi movies to ‘set the cash registers ringing’.

    Thirdly, the obvious problem, and I’m sure everyone notices this, is that the Marathi film industry does not advertise their films and market their films as much as any other film industry. I have seen more ads and commercials of South Indian films than Marathi films!

    But, I think the guys running the show need to identify the issues that are a cause of concern and need to address those to avoid the Marathi film industry from shutting down. Agreed that they have churned out some good, rather outstanding quality cinema, but these issues still remain and unless a solution is found for these, I don’t see anything positive development in Marathi films. However, I must say that some of the Marathi films that I’ve seen are extraordinary and deserve way more recognition that they have.

    • Rasik Tirodkar October 16, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

      Glad to know you care so much about Marathi cinema. And like a true lawyer your ready with your deep thoughts on it. 🙂

      Your very right on the problem of lack of publicity of marathi films. The marathi film industry must take big efforts to tackle this problem. The producers of a marathi film get an allowance upto Rs.40 lakh from the state government. This has definitely encouraged people to fund movies but the producer takes this allowance, sells the satellite rights and then sells the film to the distributors. Most producers recover their money from this and thus don’t care to promote their film resulting into nobody watching them which defeats the purpose of the film being made in the first place. Mahesh Manjrekar’s films, Natrang etc. are perfect examples of film working mainly because of their publicity.

      Regarding your first problem. I think quality cinema will always sell. Language wouldn’t be a barrier. Thanks to the internet, we watch movies not only from Hollywood but from such obscure countries which we wouldn’t even be able to locate on the map. Why? Just because their awesome movies. If the films mentioned in the post were publicized and released with subtitles or proper dubbing in the rest of India or even outside India, I am sure people would come to the cinema halls to watch them. People are thronging in thousands to watch the films being played at the Mumbai Film festival which is currently going on. What is missing is the efforts on part of the producers. Gabhricha Paus ran in Mumbai only for one week but in the USA it worked for a month in some theatres. It got a release in July in theatres in France as well. All this because of a producer wanting to show his films to the entire world. On the other hand Amitabh Bachchan who has produced Vihir didn’t publicize it much and hasn’t cared to release its DVD even 1.5 years after the movie’s release!

      Your second problem is true. But in Maharashtra marathi cinema is supposed to be shown tax free. Believe me, I have seen all the above movies by paying less than Rs.50 at single screens. But most multiplexes don’t reduce the price of the tickets in spite of it being tax free. As the number of single screens has drastically reduced, the lower and middle income group of the marathi crowd rarely goes to watch marathi films in multiplexes.

      As publicity seems to be the root cause of all problems of marathi cinema I try my best to promote it this way. So a big thank you to the whole team of ‘As We Think Is’.

  3. Rasik Tirodkar October 16, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    Thank you ‘As We Think Is’ for presenting the post so nicely. 🙂

    Of the above films Harischandrachi Factory and Gabhricha Paus are available on DVDs and thus You-Know-Where. 😉

    Gandha is available on youtube here-

    As Amitabh Bachchan is busy minting money from his acting and KBC assignments he doesn’t seem to care about Vihir which is such a lovely film that he has produced. As a result it is not available even on torrents. But a good samaritan has managed to sneak a copy from somewhere and has uploaded it on his picasa web album. As the last thing I want him is to get caught, I won’t paste the link here but just let me know your email id and I will send the link to you.

    • Shivanand Nayak October 17, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

      My email id is shivanandnayak@gmail.com. Can you please send me the link to Vihir? Also, Rasik why don’t you compile a list of must-watch Marathi films. I’m sure you would be able to show us some of the movies which some of us haven’t even heard of or even if we have, we haven’t seen them. Can you do that?

      • Rasik Tirodkar October 19, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

        I’ll come up with an exhaustive list and put it up here in the comments section.

  4. Oorvazi Irani October 19, 2011 at 12:35 am #

    Rasik,
    Brief and to the point to begin with
    Will catch up with the films. Ofcourse i have seen Harishchandrachi Factory and enjoyed it

    • Rasik Tirodkar October 19, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

      Thank you. Don’t miss Vihir by any chance. It is the most ‘artistic’ of the lot. You should love it. The movie without subtitles is available on torrents. I can email you the link if you want it with subtitles.

  5. Krunal December 7, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    Hi Rasik,

    I quite enjoyed the post and you replies on the comments too…I totally agree about ‘Natarang’ not very promising being a visual medium and in that sense Vihir stands out completely…..it probably the best Indian cinema I’ve seen in the past decade…..however i too am looking for a DVD but to no avail and if you could help me too to get a copy of this movie….as I’d love to have one in my collection.

    Thanks,
    Krunal
    http://filmblurb.wordpress.com/
    http://www.thewakefultree.com/

    • Rasik December 7, 2011 at 3:02 pm #

      Thank you Krunal. Sadly, the DVD hasn’t released and the producer Amitabh Bachchan doesn’t seem to care about it. But it is available on the internet. Please give me your email-id i will pass on the link to you.

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