Mumbai, 14 Jan 2022 6:30 IST
Although the title may come across initially as weird and absurd, in the end it perfectly encapsulates what the film wishes to say.
After Vaastav (1999) and Lalbaug Parel (2010), Mahesh Manjrekar is back again with his favourite topic of the exploitation of Mumbai's mill workers and how it gave rise to the underworld in the city once known as Bombay and its impact on the newer generation in this weirdly titled Marathi gangster drama Nay Varanbhaat Loncha Kon Nay Koncha.
Although the title may initially come across as weird and absurd, in the end it perfectly encapsulates what the film wishes to say: everyone is betraying everyone else for money and there is no sense of loyalty left.
Even if the film is a straight-up revenge saga, Manjrekar has made sure to pepper it with ample wicked twists and some absurd dark humour so that even when things become quite repetitive, you never lose interest. This is a story of a teenager Digya (Prem Dharmadhikari) who lives with his grandmother Baye (Chhaya Kadam). We first meet him when he is making a sharp manja (glass-coated thread) for his kites with his friend Ilias (Varad Nagvekar). Digya's father was an influential gangster but someone in his gang tipped off the police about his whereabouts and got him killed. Now Digya lives in a small house in a chawl with his grandmother, uncle Shirya (Rohit Haldikar) and Shirya's wife Supriya (Kashmera Shah). The house belongs to the grandmother, but Shirya is planning to take it over by bribing some officials and the local corporator Gawade (Umesh Jagtap). But suddenly something goes wrong and this one accident snowballs into a murder spree.
Though there is lot of gore, violence and some unwarranted sexual content, Manjrekar has managed to insert humour wherever the opportunity presents itself. That is why even when you see someone's private parts getting chopped off and someone getting stabbed multiple times, the violence doesn't hit you as hard as you might have expected.
Manjrekar, who has also written and edited the film, has opted for a non-linear screenplay. We are first shown the result of the action and then the screenplay jumps back and forth a few months to show us what transpired to initiate this action. But honestly, it comes across as a mere gimmick to mask the predictability of the plot. It is a fairly generic plot that has nothing new to offer in terms of storyline. With this non-linear screenplay, Manjrekar tries to keep us in the dark about certain crucial plot points, but if you have seen films of this genre before, it won't take much for you to guess where the plot is heading next. The writing also doesn’t allow us to engage emotionally with the characters.
In Marathi, we have rarely seen a film that explores the world of crime and gangsters, with the exception of movies like Lalbaug Parel and Mulshi Pattern (2018). There is no reason why this should be so, given that the biggest and most popular gangster dramas in Hindi like Parinda (1989), Satya (1998), Vaastav (1999) and Company (2003) are anyway set in Mumbai.
Now Nay Varanbhaat Loncha Kon Nay Koncha is another addition to the meagre list. It does tick most of the boxes of gangster drama tropes, from the explicit violence and casual use of foul language to excessive sexual content. And to make sure Manjrekar doesn't have to compromise on the realism, the filmmakers opted for an Adults Only certificate. And there is certainly a lot of explicit content here. Some of it is completely unnecessary and added only to titillate the audience. Like teenager Digya's sexual intercourse with his aunt. You understand what the director is trying to convey here, but there is no reason to rub it in. Showing it once was enough. Although some might have an issue with the excessive use of foul language, especially seeing such young kids swearing so casually, I found it completely natural and perfectly suiting the world and the tone the film has created.
Something that is more of a bother is the representation of women in this male world. Except for Digya's grandma, every woman he meets seems to be a nymphomaniac. They are all always so horny that they are ready to have sexual intercourse with a 13- or 14-year-old.
The cast has done a decent job. Prem Dharmadhikari is terrific as a boy on a mission. His brutality and chilling attitude towards murder are disturbing, but it’s all done with a touch of wit and style. Varad Nagvekar is also quite good. The supporting cast like Umesh Jagtap, Rohit Haldikar, Atul Kale and Ganesh Yadav are good in their respective roles, but they don't have much screentime. The scene stealer is Chhaya Kadam as the boy's grandmother. She perfectly portrays the ignorance and helplessness of a simple lady.
Hitesh Modak's rousing background score is another big plus for the film. It lifts up even some fairly generic scenes.
In sum, Nay Varanbhaat Loncha Kon Nay Koncha is a wickedly twisted revenge saga with a generic plot that is lifted by some interesting performances and absurd dark humour.
Nay Varanbhaat Loncha Kon Nay Koncha is being released in theatres today. This review is based on the press screening. Since then the makers have removed some of the more explicit scenes from the final print.