Mumbai, 11 Oct 2019 8:00 IST
Writer-director-actor Satish Kaushik's debut as a producer in Marathi cinema leaves you feeling unfulfilled.
Hindi cinema has been making films on rape for decades now. Most of these are revenge dramas or thrillers that focus on getting the criminals punished. Rajkumar Santoshi’s Damini (1993), starring Sunny Deol and Meenakshi Seshadri, was a shining example of the second type.
The subject has not received as much attention in Marathi cinema. Now cinematographer-turned-director Sanjay Memane’s Mann Udhan Wara tries to explore it in a different way.
Mann Udhan Wara, which marks the debut of Hindi film veteran Satish Kaushik as a producer in Marathi cinema, is the official remake of the Khasi film Onaatah: Of The Earth (2016), which had won the National award for Best Film in the Khasi language.
Mann Udhan Wara revolves around Sarita (Monal Gajjar), who works as a nurse in Mumbai. She stays with her mother, father and younger sister. One night, on her way home from work, Sarita is gets abducted by a group of ruffians who gang-rape and then dump her. The incident leaves her broken and scarred.
A year and a half later, the culprits are all convicted and sent to jail, but this hardly helps Sarita’s state of mind. She sets out to her native village in the Konkan for a change of scene. Among various kind-hearted and genuine people there, she meets Binda (Ritvij Vaidya), a young man who takes a liking to her.
The film suggests that while it is important to punish rapists, attention also ought to be paid to the the psychological and emotional well-being of the victims. Not many films have dealt with the scars left on the victim by such a horrific crime. For this reason alone, Mann Udhan Wara's makers deserve applause. The film also does well in portraying the large-heartedness and kindness of rural people.
Mann Udhan Wara also marks the Marathi film debut of Gajjar, who has previously acted in Gujarati and South Indian cinema. She makes a confident entry into Marathi cinema. While she does not have too much to say in the film, she speaks very well through her expressions.
Acclaimed writer-director duo Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukhthankar have written the screenplay of Mann Udhan Wara. But it is hard to believe because the writing leaves a lot to be desired.
The film does have its moments, but most of the time we are presented with a dry narrative where nothing substantial takes place after the initial 20 minutes or so. There are moments, especially in the second half, where you wonder where this is all heading.
Then there are the subplots, like the one of the physically challenged Vishnu (Sagar Karande) and his wife, which didn’t need that much attention. All these issues ensure that the film’s runtime of 115 minutes appears much longer.
Mann Udhan Wara is supposed to be a love story between Sarita and Binda. But there is no build-up of the romance between them. Maybe the audience is supposed to assume their love story because they are cast opposite each other.
Binda’s character is also not established or explored properly for us to be convinced about his large-heartedness. All we are told is that he is an orphan who considers the village his family. This creates an obstacle in Vaidya’s performance, who otherwise shows promise.
Mann Udhan Wara has some fine performances by artistes like Kishore Kadam, Uttara Baokar, Sagar Karande, Dr Sharad Bhutadiya (as the blind old man) and Sharvari Lohokare. The film also has two terrific devotional songs. But these pluses are not enough to override the minuses.
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