From films exploring decidedly rural themes, a staple of Marathi cinema, to some delightful movies with children at the centre, the year threw up some interesting choices.
Rewind 2018: Which was the Best Film in Marathi this year?
Mumbai - 27 Dec 2018 0:53 IST
Updated : 28 Dec 2018 17:07 IST
Films set in rural areas of Maharashtra have given Marathi film lovers marvellous opportunities for entertainment over the past decade. This year, in addition to bucolic themes, the industry also saw satisfying stories set farther from the simple village life.
While Naal, Pipsi, Cycle and Redu had deep village roots, they were all different in content and treatment. They were memorable for their characters, their subjects or for their artistes who gave more than their best.
Lathe Joshi explored the urban problem of machines replacing men while Aamhi Doghi and Gulabjaam brought to light a strangely gratifying relationship between two unlikely friends.
Then there was Nude, which made a strong statement without ever spelling out its message. Maska was another urban tale that was enjoyable as well as relatable.
We had a great time at the movies this year. The special mentions — TC:GN, Chumbak and Mantr — were also different films looking into subjects ranging from cyber security (or the lack of it) to conscientiousness and to reverence for individual beliefs.
So here is Cinestaan’s choice of the best Marathi films of 2018:
10. Aamhi Doghi
First-time director Pratima Joshi's casting made all the difference in Aamhi Doghi. Having said that, she moved beyond her characters and their unusual camaraderie to make a sensitive film which had emotions and friendships at its core.
Priya Bapat and Mukta Barve left indelible marks with their performances, exploring an unwonted bond that affects both deeply, but in starkly different ways. It was a rare gem that had women talking about important topics like decisions, responsibilities and personalities.
Maska may seem an unusual entry in this list. But it deserves a spot for being an enjoyable con drama that left you in splits throughout its runtime. The family-friendly film rose above other dramas for its smooth-as-butter performances by Prarthana Behere, Shashank Shende and Pranay Raorane.
Raorane's act as a mentally retarded child was undeniably the best of the lot. Barring a few loopholes, the witty screenplay and dialogues by actor-turned-director Priyadarshan Jadhav elevated this comedy to cult status.
Redu was about a poor, ambition-less villager and the roller-coaster emotions he goes through when his prized possession, a radio, is stolen. The Malvani script added a touch of rustic charm to Redu, even as its adorable characters brought to life the endearing screenplay by director Sagar Vanjari.
Shashank Shende, Chhaya Kadam, Gauri Konge and Vinamra Babhal chipped in with delightful acts as cinematographer Mangesh Gadekar captured the idyllic beauty of the Konkan region. Redu subtly touched upon the subject of consumerism and its effect on innocent villagers. It did this while keeping the ethos of entertainment intact.
The simple story, dreamy pace and effective dialogues of Cycle automatically lent it a spot on this list. The casting of Hrishikesh Joshi, Bhalchandra Kadam and Priyadarshan Jadhav, along with the several characters in the village, was spot-on as they enacted a tale set in 1948.
The fuss-free portrayal of village life harked back to the good ol' Malgudi Days, created by RK Narayan. Prakash Kunte’s able direction, Aditi Moghe's humorous writing, and Amalendu Chaudhary’s dreamy camerawork made Cycle a ride that one could not miss.
Ravi Jadhav and Sachin Kundalkar wrote a sensitive story involving two women in an unsual profession that quickly invites judgemental eyes and taunts. Yamuna (Kalyanee Mulay) and her aunt Akka (Chhaya Kadam) pose as nude models at an art college where their bodies are looked upon simply as subjects. The ending can be interpreted in many ways and it decides whether the filmmakers succeed in making their point. Whatever you infer, Nude is essential viewing with strong feminist shades much needed in today’s time.
5. Aani... Dr Kashinath Ghanekar
Aani... Dr Kashinath Ghanekar detailed the active years of film and stage actor Kashinath Ghanekar (1960 through 1980). It was a good history lesson on the actor's legacy in Marathi theatre. Subodh Bhave’s tour de force performance as the arrogant, talented, eccentric Ghanekar made for a paisa-vasool experience at the movies. Director Abhijeet Shirish Deshpande presented a larger-than-life biopic of a man who seemed to deserve it all. Believable art direction by Santosh Phutane and slick editing by Apurva Motiwale and Ashish Mhatre made it worth all the entertainment Kashinath Ghanekar ever stood for.
Director Sachin Kundalkar took two opposite characters — the reclusive Radha Agarkar (Sonali Kulkarni) and goofball Aditya (Siddharth Chandekar) — and placed them in a kitchen for the common love of food and cooking. He used brilliant food metaphors to rustle up a layered film soaked in the goodness of a sensitive story with effortless humour, meaningful dialogue and good performances. Kulkarni added her own spin to Radha, left behind by the times but still pushing on with hope.
3. Lathe Joshi
The premise of Lathe Joshi was grim and often depressing, but its execution was realistic, and cinematic brilliance shone through the rusting machines replacing human intelligence. Chittaranjan Giri went deep into the character of Joshi, making it believable, sympathetic, yet not pitiful. Piyush Shah's artistic sound design more than made up for the lack of background score and even dialogues. All these factors made Lathe Joshi an unforgettable film with a humane story at its centre. The realism pricked, but it entertained nevertheless.
The visuals in director Rohan Deshpande’s film spoke of the contrast in the two worlds — the incorruptible innocence of the children and the bleak circumstances of the adults plagued by the farm crisis. Innocent faith and dogged faith were themes that ran through this masterfully crafted film about two friends and their pet fish Pipsi. It was just a perfect film in every way.
Director Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti picked a simple village tale, told from the perspective of the little boy Chaitya (Shrinivas Pokale) and gave it special treatment. The deeply layered film explored the emotions of a child who has been casually told that he is adopted and that he can be happy only with his biological mother. Chaitya becomes obsessed with this new dynamic in relationships. Every frame was so beautifully crafted that it stays with you. The realistic acting, touching story, and warm cinematography scored the highest marks, offering a whole palette of emotions in 116 minutes.
There were some films this year which were good, but lost out to stronger contenders over parameters ranging from subject and treatment to writing and execution of script.
This one was a special film. Set in a city, with middle-class characters, TC.GN explored the evils of modern society and the strains on relationships it causes. From cyber crime and bullying to problems of teenagers and the generation gap, TC.GN highlighted all that is wrong, but considered fairly normal, even acceptable, in today's times. It moved at an even pace, was relatable, and left you with some uncomfortable questions about your digital behaviour. Sachin Khedekar and Irawati Harshe delivered understated yet powerful performances.
Swanand Kirkire played a man with a mental disability so convincingly in this heartwarming tale which questioned rights and wrongs in life. Teenager Balu (Sahil Jadhav) has a dream of setting up a sugarcane juice stall. The film explored his journey through a series of decisions which portray the human struggle to do the right thing. Director Sandeep Modi used the innocence of a mentally challenged adult and the duality of a young mind to create a heart-wrenching, yet enjoyable tale.
Mantr was a reasonable film that smartly navigated the tightrope of a debatable subject — religion. It explored the difference between believers and atheists through interesting conversations while maintaining a good pace and keeping the audience’s interest alive. First-time director Harshwardhan made a strong debut. He made his point using artistes like Manoj Joshi, Saurabh Gogate and Deepti Shrikant.