Mumbai, 29 Jun 2019 9:00 IST
The film has a fine cast of Santosh Juvekar, Kishore Kadam, Suhas Palshikar and Shashank Shende but the content could have been better.
There have been innumerable Hindi films based on Mumbai's underworld, a trend that began when the city was still called Bombay. Though the menace is hardly present now, enough mayhem was created in the 1980s and 1990s for Mumbai to be considered Maharashtra's underworld capital even today.
But a film like Mulshi Pattern (2018) showed that the underworld is a reality today even outside Mumbai and in equally dangerous proportions. Director Abhishek Arvind Kelkar’s Adham is another Marathi movie based on gangsters in a place far away from the city.
The story takes place in the fictitious town of Khanori. The place is a hub for mining, both legal and illegal. The business is controlled by contractors who are actually gangsters. Anna Bhosale (Kishore Kadam) is one such contractor, on paper. In reality, his is the most feared name in Khanori. Nobody messes with Anna Bhosale.
Anna’s rivals Datta (Shashank Shende) and Mane (Umesh Jagtap) are jealous of him but can’t do much about it. One reason for the terror Anna strikes in everyone is his dangerous Man Friday, Vicky (Santosh Juvekar), and best friend (Padmanabh Bind). Once while going through his routine, Vicky meets a stranger Nandini (Gauri Nalawade) and falls for her slowly but surely.
Anna’s smooth business is interrupted when the fearless social worker and school principal Deshpande (Suhas Palshikar) files a petition against his illegal mines and the court orders action.
It is interesting to see a talented bunch like Juvekar, Kadam, Palshikar and Shende together. Juvekar has played a bindaas ruffian quite a few times before and is slowly getting stereotyped. There is nothing new in his act, though he is earnest.
Kadam is impressive once again, getting into the skin of a character he has hardly portrayed before.
The veteran Palshikar creates an impact and is believable as a man on a mission. Shende, another powerful performer, is, however, hampered by the limited screen time given to his character. The role did not need someone as talented as him. The same is the case with Bind. But the find of the film is Nalawade, a natural.
The performances are the only thing that works for Adham, unfortunately. The film starts off with a proper introduction of Khanori, its mining business and the underworld nexus there. Then it simply refuses to explore the subject, unlike Mulshi Pattern, which had gone deep into the issue of farm families selling their land only to find that the proceeds do not last long, and yet turned it into an interesting thriller.
Adham is effectively reduced to the tale of someone who witnesses a murder and then has to face the consequences. The whole mining mafia business goes out of the window. The story could have been set anywhere.
The love story gets a good amount of time and importance in the plot but remains half-baked. Vicky saves Nandini from some men harassing her in a cinema hall and then they simply start meeting and fall in love. Funnily, despite having seen Vicky almost kill her harassers, Nandini gets a jolt when she finds out later what he does for a living.
Adham's script clearly lacks meat. The film feels too long even with a moderate runtime of 124 minutes. It has just one major incident that takes place at the halfway mark. What happens before that is just a build-up that tests your patience, more so with the songs.
When things finally get moving in the second half, we are presented with a series of silly incidents. You are taken aback to see supposedly seasoned gangsters behaving foolishly in sequence after sequence. It makes you wonder how they were able to run their nexus all these years. It also makes you question the choice of the talented bunch featuring in the film.
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