Mumbai, 26 Jul 2019 9:00 IST
Writer-director Upendra Sidhaye has managed to make an engaging film on a not-so-unique subject.
There was a time when Marathi cinema did not make films on romantic subjects, but it all changed with the release of films like Shala (2012) and Duniyadari (2013).
Shala changed the landscape of Marathi cinema and with that teenage romance became the new norm. Romantic dramas being the go-to genre for Marathi cinema, it is difficult to understand why no Marathi film ever explored this particular subject. But finally we have a film that deals with the issue of societal pressure on young people to be in relationships and how being single is considered a failure of some kind.
This film, directed by Upendra Sidhaye, follows the story of loner Nachiket Pradhan (Amey Wagh). Nachiket has never had a girlfriend, for which he is always shamed by friends and colleagues. His birthday falls on 14 February, which, according to him, is the biggest tragedy of his life.
After he is denied a deserved promotion on the specious plea that not being in a relationship makes him unsuitable for the post, Nachiket decides to get a girlfriend. To everyone's surprise he does get one, but how this miracle came about and what happens once he gets the girlfriend form the crux of the story.
Though new for Marathi cinema, the plot itself is not unique and follows the standard progression. We see the clichéd nerdy loner whose best friends are in relationships, whose parents who are constantly after him to get married and a boss who specifically hates him.
Nevertheless, writer-director Upendra Sidhaye has managed to make an engaging film on this not-so-unique subject. He has kept away from preachy dialogues and melodrama, which works in favor of the film. Though the film is essentially a rom-com, whenever there is an important emotional scene he gives ample time for it to marinate so that the audience will remember the scene even after leaving the theatre.
Amey Wagh and Sai Tamhankar have never worked in a film together before, but their on-screen chemistry does not betray this. Tamhankar plays Alisha, an interesting character written by Sidhaye, but one can't help but notice that some of her so-called unique habits are just poor plot devices which have no major significance in the story.
Wagh has nailed his role to perfection. It helps that his physicality matches that of his character to the T. Certain scenes where he is talking to himself are a treat for connoisseurs of the art of acting. You feel sad, but at the same time you cannot control your laughter during those scenes.
The rest of the cast has provided good support. Suyog Gorhe and Uday Nene play Nachiket's best friends and both are adequate in their roles. Though Yatin Karyekar and Kavita Lad, who play Nachiket's parents, have very little screen time, they still leave an impact.
Sagar Deshmukh has a guest appearance in the film. He literally has only one scene and appears in the background in some others. It's almost a sacrilege to cast such a gifted actor and not use him at all. The makers could have used any other actor for this part and it would have made no difference.
The music is a big plus of the film. Hrishikesh-Saurabh-Jasraj have scored a unique yet catchy album for the film. Even the background score by Saurabh Bhalerao is refreshing. You don't normally get to hear this kind of sound in Marathi cinema.
The film has been shot well and looks good on the big screen. Other aspects like costume design and art direction also work in favour of the film.
At 2 hours 17 minutes, Girlfriend does feel a bit lengthy and the film could probably have been shortened by 10 minutes, particularly in the second half.
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