Mumbai, 10 Aug 2017 22:13 IST
Updated: 16 Jul 2018 19:35 IST
Ravi Jadhav and Sonali Kulkarni turn in memorable performances in this film about a mentally challenged boy's sexual development.
Filmmakers seem obliged to offer a happy ending, almost like a consolation for the price a moviegoer pays for a ticket. While films have served and continue to serve escapist fare, sometimes happy endings can leave you feeling cheated. That said, issue-based films do make that trip to the theatre worth the while.
The ‘A’-rated Kaccha Limbu is one such film that ventures into never-before-explored territory, draws you into the world of its flawed characters, then downgrades the impact with a happy ending. You won’t find yourself clapping and laughing gleefully like our special protagonist Bachchu does. But that should not stop you from buying a ticket to this Prasad Oak 'experience'.
The director calls Kaccha Limbu an experience for many reasons. The sights, sounds, emotions, and technical finesse packed into these 115 minutes are worth many more hours as the visuals (some disturbing) don’t leave your consciousness easily.
Based on the Marathi novel Runanubandha by Jaywant Dalvi, Oak explores the love story of Mohan Katdare (Ravi Jadhav) and Shaila Katdare (Sonali Kulkarni) and their life after the birth of their son, Bachchu (Manmeet Pem). Their story is unveiled organically, as Shaila, who works in a pharmaceutical company, strikes up an unusual friendship with her boss Shrikant Pandit (Sachin Khedekar) and opens up to him.
Oak uses the first few minutes to establish the bond between Mohan and Shaila before their marriage. An awkward yet cute meeting at the beach is followed by other dates where conversation is nil but the background music speaks volumes of young love. Interestingly, these flashback portions are shot in colour. A swift edit transition to their present black and white world is the subtle yet prominent juxtaposition of the happy with the miserable.
Actor Chinmay Mandlekar has written the dialogue and screenplay. He makes sure to keep the dialogue minimal and sensitive.
The film opens with 15-year-old Bachchu stripping in the balcony of the Katdares' modest one-room home in a Girgaum chawl. This attracts the attention of passers-by who curse the boy’s parents. When Mohan reaches the spot, he is livid, to the point of self-harm. His demeanour remains the same throughout the film, morose and negative, while Shaila is the more tolerant one who could do with some appreciation and attention. The loaded dialogue “O, bagha na zara [look at me]" encapsulates her character’s state of mind.
Bachchu’s mental development is retarded, but his physical needs get stronger by the day. The lack of privacy in their home has retarded the sexual needs of his parents, who work in shifts that ensure they barely get to spend time together. The warm and philosophical Shrikant Pandit’s easygoing nature serves as an attraction for Shaila. Their relationship presents another dimension to this story which could have just been about a mentally retarded, uncontrollable man-child. One day, when Bachchu tries to force himself on his mother, Mohan resorts to extreme measures.
Oak uses subtle hints to put the time frame in context — Qurbani (1980) at the Metro theatre in South Bombay, transistors, Panama cigarettes, Irani cafes, Remington typewriter. The joyous moments or objects of happiness like a saree or a perfume bottle appear in colour in the otherwise grey world of the Katdares. Rahul Ranade’s Western orchestra music lifts the mood where dialogue seems completely unnecessary. Cameraman Amlendu Chaudhury’s artistic shots bring alive the lives of the Katdares, adding a tint of gloom, with hopes of redemption.
Ravi Jadhav’s act as the frustrated father is spot on. He exercises restraint in charged scenes without going overboard. It would have been nicer if his miserliness hadn't been mentioned in every other scene.
Sonali Kulkarni’s blank eyes speak volumes of her ordeal. The little scope for happiness is also seen in the few sparks in her eyes and body language. Manmeet Pem as Bachchu does a great job of getting the audience to dislike him more than sympathize with his condition.
The track of Ananth Mahadevan disturbed about his dead son seems out of place, but somehow necessary for Mohan’s character graph.
Some scenes leave you with a bitter taste. Oak gets you used to the misery unfolding on screen, then suddenly throws colour as Mohan and Shaila start to deal with their dilemma differently. It left this reviewer feeling a bit cheated, after being drawn into the grey Katdare world.
Oak’s film hopes to highlight the story of the many parents living with mentally challenged kids and the lack of empathy from others. It will leave you thinking, if nothing else. Don’t miss Kaccha Limbu for anything.
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