Mumbai, 15 Jun 2019 7:00 IST
Mogra Phulaalaa, directed by Shrabani Deodhar, is a refreshing take on the mother-son relationship.
The trailer and songs of Mogra Phulaalaa had already given us a fair idea about the plot. This is the story of Sunil Kulkarni (Swapnil Joshi), an unmarried software developer who is in his thirties but continues to leave all decisions in his life to his mother (Neena Kulkarni).
But what happens when Sunil falls in love? Will his mother accept his choice? Sunil has already rejected a good match simply because his mother was upset that the young woman did not know how to prepare ekvis paklyanche modak (a sweet dumpling shaped like 21 petals).
From this very first scene you get an idea of the kind of relationship this mother-son duo shares. Though the film has a large cast of characters, the story revolves mostly around Sunil, his mother and Shivangi Gupte (Sai Deodhar), his love interest.
Swapnil Joshi has been trying to get rid of his charming, romantic, chocolate-boy image for the past couple of years, but, unfortunately, he could never stick the landing. Movies like Bhikari (2017) and Me Pan Sachin (2019) are testament to this fact.
This time, Joshi has chosen the right script to showcase his acting chops and proceeded to give us a wonderful performance as the 30-plus mama's boy. This is easily Joshi's best performance in the past couple of years.
Neena Kulkarni hits all the right notes as the mother who does not know the difference between being caring and being possessive. Her scenes with Swapnil Joshi are a highlight of the film.
Sai Deodhar plays Shivangi, a widowed young mother who is an assistant manager at a bank. Except for one particularly important scene, where Sai fails to deliver the desired impact, she has done quite well. Her interactions with her daughter feel natural.
From the rest of the cast, Sandeep Pathak and Chandrakant Kulkarni get the most screen time and both use it well. There is never a dull moment when either is on the screen.
Anand Ingle appears in just two scenes but leaves an impact with his perfect timing. Newcomer Sonam Nishandar plays Sunil's childhood friend who has a crush on him. Her performance is theatrical, but then it is her first movie so, hopefully, she will learn quickly.
Veteran director Shrabani Deodhar has kept things simple here. Except for one clichéd neighbour, everything is kept grounded and realistic, which helps the audience to connect with the film.
With a runtime of 139 minutes, Mogra Phulaalaa does feel a tad long and a further 10 minutes could, perhaps, have been excised, especially as the film meanders through the first half. Both songs, however, are woven smartly into the narrative without breaking the flow. The background music is good but overused; there is hardly a quiet moment.
While nothing is stated overtly, one can't deny that the film speaks about the toxic relationship we sometimes share with our parents and raises a few valid questions, such as how far should parents interfere in children's lives? Especially in the Indian subcontinent, we still see parents take many life-altering decisions for their children, the consequences of which are left to be borne by the latter. This is probably the most relatable aspect of the film.
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