Mumbai, 13 Apr 2018 10:02 IST
First-time director Harshwardhan has conjured up a sensible plot that tackles generation gap, stagnancy of traditions, love, politics of religion and the battle between believers and atheists.
More often than not, today film trailers seem to be much more impressive than the film itself. However, this is not the case with first-time director Harshwardhan’s Mantr.
In fact, in this case, the trailer of the film didn’t incite any excitement and provided little clarity on the subject of the film. After watching the film though, one can say that the trailer was badly cut.
Mantr is based in contemporary Pune where Shridhar Pant’s (Manoj Joshi) family thrives amidst traditions and conservatism. Shridhar and his elder son Kashinath (Pushkaraj Chirputkar) follow the family's profession and are priests.
The younger son Niranjan (Saurabh Gogate) has little yearnings for spirituality and wants to become a chartered accountant. However, when he learns that someone wants a priest for a couple of years in Germany, he happily volunteers. To make the most of the arrangement, he also decides to help his best friends David (Sujay Jadhav) and Sunny (Shubhankar Ekbote) in their business during his tenure in Germany.
Niranjan joins German language classes where he meets the beautiful Antara Joshi (Deepti Shrikant). She is older than him and is going through a break-up. Though they fall for each other, not all is bright and rosy. Antara is a staunch atheist and hates priests to the core. Needless to say, Niranjan hides his profession from her. Will she ever be able to accept Niranjan and his family profession?
Mantr throws light on different issues at the same time – generation gap, stagnancy of traditional families in a rapidly changing society, importance accorded to rituals, love, politics of religion and, most importantly, the battle between believers and atheists. All of these issues are smartly woven into the plot.
A good pace and interesting conversations keep the audiences' interest alive. On most occasions, the setting appears more suited to a play. But since you are well engrossed in the story, this factor shouldn't be a bother.
The biggest triumph for Mantr is the fine balance it maintains between the ideologies of believers and non-believers with an honest approach. The final arguments have the ability to convince atheists too. Even though Mantr is similar to the recently released Marathi films like Dashakriya (2017) and Ghat (2017) in its idea, it is certainly more sensible.
This said, the film would have achieved much more if the behaviours of some characters weren't questionable on a few occasions and had a few sub-plots been more convincing. Also, the climax would have managed with a little less amount of preaching.
There was no real need of songs here. Besides ‘Bol Na Re Mana,’ the songs are quite forgettable.
Except for a few instances, the backgroud score steers clear from the temptation of being loud in order to add to the drama.Cinematographer Pranankur Shirurkar aces in both internal and external shots.
Mantr should be applauded for its casting. Manoj Joshi was seen as a priest only recently in Dashakriya. Although his character here is different, it is his versatility that ensures you are not reminded of his character in earlier film.
Saurabh Gogate succeeds in displaying a mixture of ambition, innocence and vulnerability. Except in scenes where he had to be too dramatic, he manages his task well. Deepti Shrikant possesses fine acting skills, although she tends to go loud here and there. The actress deserves to be seen more.
Pushkaraj Chirputkar was brilliant in Baapjanma (2017) and is dedicated here too. Shubhankar Ekbote is thoroughly believable as the carefree son of a powerful politician. In the role of David, Sujay Jadhav is decent.
All in all, the film has a sensible and interesting plot that tackles questions related to faith and rituals.
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