Mumbai, 09 Jun 2022 22:30 IST
Directed by Vivek Rajendra Dubey, the film is anchored by a fine performance from Aroh Welankar.
There have been several films in various languages about clueless youngsters who are willing to work hard but are held back by lack of clarity on what to do. First-time director Vivek Rajendra Dubey’s Marathi movie Funral (2022) also starts off with the same storyline. But what sets it apart is the unusual business the film’s protagonist and his friends start.
Heera (Aroh Welankar) is a fiery youngster living in a chawl in Mumbai with his grandfather (Vijay Kenkre). Heera's parents died when he was still a child. He is determined to do something in life but isn't clear what. So he spends his time loitering with three close friends. His grandfather berates him as a good-for-nothing lad.
One day, by chance, Heera and his friends come across a man who dies of a sudden heart attack. His daughter arrives from the US but has nobody to help her carry out the last rites. Heera goes ahead and helps her in her hour of need while his friends join him hesitatingly. Touched by their gesture, she forces them to accept a token amount for their timely help.
That leads Heera to think organizing funerals and prayer meetings could be a good business. His friends rubbish the idea but eventually join him in his new venture. Although Heera does his business with a clean heart, his grandfather and people from his chawl oppose his venture as they believe it’s inauspicious work.
Welankar's performance is one of the biggest pluses here. He is not your typical hero but always carries a winner’s attitude. He has his share of struggles before he tastes success. Each stage of the character is convincingly portrayed by Welankar. The three actors who play Heera's friends — Harshad Shinde, Parth Ghatge and Siddhesh Pujare — offer decent support.
Vijay Kenkre is strict as well as soft as the grandfather. Prema Sakhardande, who plays a senior citizen and Heera’s constant support, is likeable despite her limited screen time. Tanvi Barve fits the role of Heera’s love interest.
Funral gets the feel and atmosphere of life in a chawl right. The writer and director have presented the film in a serious yet light-hearted way. The balance is maintained throughout and the narrative does not feel frivolous at any point. Heera’s scenes with More-tai (Sakhardande) are moving. The protagonist’s passion for his unusual line of work and the way he goes about achieving his goal make you root for him.
The film drives home philosophical messages around death in an easy manner. But, for some strange reason, Funral doesn’t provide any major conflict or story development in the second half. It's almost as if the writers didn’t know what to do after establishing the story, subject and characters.
The narrative does bring up moments of conflict between Heera and his grandfather. But these are minor. Heera never faces any major obstacle and succeeds quite easily in his plan. The final scene, while moving, is also a repetition of what you have already seen a couple of times in the second half.
While Funral has its heart in the right place, the film feels like an incomplete journey.
Funral is being released in cinema halls on 10 June.
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