Mumbai, 09 Feb 2017 16:00 IST
The makers of Dhyanimani weave a web of questions before the interval but give away so much in the title itself.
The smartly cut trailer of Dhyanimani reveals little. Shalini (Ashvini Bhave) is glorifying the joys, often dramatically, of being a mother. A sudden, ominous change in the background score reveals a lot, just like the title. Dhyanimani means something that exists only in your thoughts. In the film too, the makers use music to often mislead the viewer in a certain direction.
In the beginning, story-screenplay-dialogue writer Prashant Dalvi and director Chandrakant Kulkarni manage to keep the interest and suspense alive for a while. Sadly, they fail to recognise the many points at which the film could have ended, leaving the viewer with the sweet satisfaction of a non-happy ending. What has probably worked for Dhyanimani as a theatrical production (by Kulkarni himself) does not jell for its big-screen treatment.
Research student Aparna (Mrinmayee Deshpande) is unhappy at the news of her unplanned pregnancy. She is convinced that it is the end of her happy life — outings, parties and romance. Her clinical psychologist husband Sameer (Abhijeet Khandekar), the more level-headed one, convinces Aparna it could well be something they could accept and enjoy. Turns out just a promise for a quick-fix travel plan is enough for Aparna to agree to carry the child.
Off they go to Roha, to visit family friend Sadanand (Mahesh Manjrekar) who works at a resort and lives in a company-provided accommodation with his wife Shalini and son Mohit. All seems well with the couple, until some low-angle shots and menacing music spell out impending doom (for the viewer). Stories of Mohit and his belongings are all over Shalini’s mind, their house, their lives. But where is Mohit? Is he dead? Has he gone missing? Does he even exist?
The makers of Dhyanimani weave a web of questions before the interval but give away so much in the title itself. Films on mental illness unknowingly or knowingly look for a solution to the disorder, often killing the sympathy that a character has gained. There are so many points where you think the film will end, but it just carries on. And that’s where the impact of such a thriller diminishes. The artistes make an honestly good attempt at keeping the interest alive but suffer because of the predictability of the meandering plot.
Manjrekar gives a guarded performance as a helpless yet loving husband. Khandekar is confident, while Deshpande seems a tad theatrical in the start. Veteran Bhave carries the film on her able shoulders with her impactful performance, assured dialogue delivery and well-timed expressions. It’s a pleasure to watch her act as a harrowed mother.
The film is subtly preachy about a woman’s right to become a mother, sometimes playing judge to society that places so much importance on child-bearing to measure a woman’s worth. At other times, the makers waste time showcasing beautiful locations in the Konkan region — delaying the thrills that could help sustain the suspense. A more crisp cut would have the desired effect.
Is it sheer coincidence that a psychologist has landed up at the home of a possible case? No. Sameer could have been in any profession. Quite a few convenient shortcuts bring down the excitement of what could have been an edge-of-the-seat thriller but ends up as an average one.
All said and done, it’s good to see a Marathi film in this genre. Watch it for the top-class performances by Bhave and Manjrekar.
Reviewed by Blessy Chettiar