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Vazandar review: This light-hearted flick throws enough weight around

Sachin Kundalkar deals with the serious issue of obesity in a heartwarming manner.

Keyur Seta

Film: Vazandar (Marathi) (U/A)
Rating: 3/5

Important subjects like obesity and body-shaming are slowly being explored in Indian films. Apart from recent Hindi movies like Gippy (2014) and Dum Laga Ke Haisha (2015), the subjects found place in Marathi cinema with Agadbam (2011). Director Sachin Kundalkar's Vazandar deals with the same topic. But his mature treatment makes the film stand apart from other recent films on the subject.

Vazandar revolves around two best friends, Kaveri (Sai Tamhankar) and Pooja (Priya Bapat). They stay at the hill station Panchgani. Kaveri is married into a typical rich and patriarchal family. She is forced to be a housewife though she was an independent woman before marriage.

Pooja, on the other hand, is a free-spirited woman working at her mother’s hotel. One day, the two friends go clubbing secretly. They get into trouble owing to their overweight condition. This pushes them to embark on a weight-loss mission.

The gentle narrative is filled with delightful moments, just as in Kundalkar's earlier films, Happy Journey (2014) and Rajwade And Sons (2015). He again succeeds in fusing tradition and modernity. The film also has a message against patriarchy which is delivered gently yet forcefully.

More importantly, Kundalkar deals with the topic of obesity sensitively, without recourse to melodrama. Besides, the two lead characters are not under pressure from anyone to slim down.

But Vazandar still leaves you feeling a little dissatisfied. That is probably because there is no clear conflict in the second half of the film, which also slows down considerably. As a result, the climax is rather flat, and you leave the hall thinking about what might have been, given the way the film built up in the first half. Also, the idea of narrating the tale through flashbacks doesn’t quite work. 

Cinematographer Milind Jog has captured the simple, everyday sequences in an artistic way. In a couple of sequences, the camera follows Tamhankar while she is moving around the house. I know it sounds ordinary, but it isn't. Composer duo Avinash-Vishwajeet’s light-hearted tracks are appropriate for the subject. 

Both Tamhankar and Bapat put on weight for the film. Their dedication has not been limited to the physicality of their roles, however, and both actresses have performed earnestly. Tamhankar as the traditional housewife and Bapat as the modern woman are completely believable. And there are many moments when you are touched by their characters.

Siddharth Chandekar shows promise once again as Bapat’s love interest. Chirag Patil, who was last seen in AR Murugadoss's Akira as the protagonist’s friend and makes his Marathi film debut with this one, gets into the character of a regressive husband. For the uninitiated, he is the son of former Indian Test cricketer and former chairman of selectors Sandeep Patil. 

Overall, Vazandar tackles a serious subject in a sensitive, feel-good manner. It could have done more, but then who doesn't want more?

Director: Sachin Kundalkar
Producer: Vidhi Kasliwal
Writer: Sachin Kundalkar
Cast: Sai Tamhankar, Priya Bapat, Siddharth Chandekar, Chirag Patil
Music: Avinash-Vishwajeet
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 108 minutes

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