Mumbai, 26 Apr 2019 7:00 IST
The film, directed by Makarand Mane, has fine performances by Shashank Shende and Rinku Rajguru.
Director Makarand Mane’s Kaagar sees Rinku Rajguru play Priyadarshini aka Rani, a young woman from a rich and influential family in a village named Virainagar in Maharashtra. Rani is deeply in love with Yuvraj (Shubhankar Tawade) who comes from a poor family.
Wait a minute! Doesn’t this bring back memories of Rajguru’s blockbuster debut Sairat (2016)? That film had Rajguru playing a girl from a rich and powerful clan who falls for Parshya (Akash Thosar), who is from a far lower social strata. There is another moment in Kaagar that brings back memories of Sairat, when Rani and Yuvraj run away from goons along with their friends.
But these turn out to be just minor influences of the 2016 film. Otherwise, Kaagar, besides being a love story, is about a ruthless game of political one-upmanship. While films like Raajneeti (2010, Hindi) and Zenda (2009, Marathi) have portrayed the political scenario in bigger towns and cities, there have been few films delving into the politics in rural areas, at least in the past couple of decades.
Guruji (Shashank Shende) and Aaba (Suhas Palshikar) are the biggest political players of Virainagar. Guruji is known as the Chanakya of the village. He is a kingmaker who was once a close associate of Aaba. But circumstances forced them apart and he became the mentor of a rival party.
Shende, who sports a very different look here, lives up to his image of an excellent performer. He is in character throughout, at times making his intentions clear with just a wave of his hand or the act of removing his spectacles.
Yuvraj becomes Guruji’s right-hand man in no time. He has some qualities of a future leader, though he is also touchy and short-tempered. He is deeply affected by the death of his farmer father, which was the outcome of his fight against injustice. Guruji, however, is unaware of Yuvraj’s relationship with his daughter, Rani.
Mane gets it right as a writer and director when it comes to showcasing the political scenario in rural Maharashtra. The characters are etched well. Each has a proper graph, including the side character of Yuvraj’s friend.
The background score of Kaagar is not only impressive but special. That are various tunes for different situations, each adding to the drama.
The high point of the film is the moment when Rajguru's Rani takes matters in her own hands and decides to contest the election.
The actress puts up an impressive performance yet again. She carries the transformation part with ease. Tawade provides good support. He gets the diction and mannerisms of a rural character right despite being a Mumbai-bred person.
Kaagar definitely has a lot going for it. And yet the film left this reviewer feeling dissatisfied. One problem is that along the way the film gets too ambitious and aims to be a thriller instead of just a drama. Of course, there is nothing wrong in wanting to make a political thriller, but that does not mean logic can be dumped by the wayside in an endeavour to provide twists and turns.
The incident when Rani and Yuvraj suddenly decide to get married in secret, for instance, is utterly devoid of logic. It is not as if there is a threat looming over their relationship, like Rani being married off to someone else, and the decision is made on flimsy grounds. But this is a key moment in the film's plot, and so it becomes impossible to ignore this flaw.
The twists and turns in the plot in the second half suffer from similar logical loopholes, the biggest of them coming at the very end when Guruji does something that is simply out of character. As a result, what might have been an impressive and even timely political thriller during election season ends up in the one-time-watch category.
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