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Review Marathi

Picasso review: An exploration of the world of Dashavatar artistes

Release Date: 16 Apr 2021

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Suyog Zore

In his directorial debut, Abhijeet Warang tells the story of a father and son bonding over their love for the traditional art form.

Before the emergence of television, Dashavatar was probably the single most prominent source of entertainment for people in the Konkan region of Maharashtra. According to the makers of the film Picasso (2021), the roots of the art form go back to the 13th century CE.

The art survived and thrived for more than seven centuries without much patronage from royalty or any government support. Even today, more than 3,50,000 artistes perform this art form and it remains the only source of income for many of them.

Picasso is about one such artiste, Pandurang (Prasad Oak), who is struggling to earn a living for his family. He sculpts Ganesh idols as a side business. There was a time when Pandurang was revered for his performances and admirers would come from far and wide to watch him perform. But that was before an addiction to alcohol saw his career nosedive. Now he is just another Dashavatar artiste who performs to earn a few bucks. He no longer has the passion for the art form that once brought him fame and popularity.

One night Pandurang's son (Samay Sanjeev Tambe) visits the fair to watch him perform. The father notices that the boy has inherited the passion for art that he himself used to have in his heyday. Thereafter, the film focuses on exploring the relationship between father and son and artist and his art. It tells how that single night affects the father-son relationship and their approach towards art.

First-time director Abhijeet Warang smartly uses the serene beauty of the Konkan region to draw our attention at the start of the film. The film is set in the monsoon, which enhances the experience tenfold.

All the artistes, including the Dashavatar artistes, have done their jobs well. Casting real Dashavatar performers was a masterstroke and it shows when they perform. As an outsider, Prasad Oak had a tough task to match the unique rhythm of the other artistes, but the seasoned actor is up for the challenge and how!

While the film creates an authentic atmosphere of fairs and Dashavatar plays, the dialogues in standard Marathi jolt you and remind you that you are only watching a film. It is especially frustrating for those familiar with the dialect in the Konkan to hear actors mouthing dialogues in standard Marathi.

In a Q&A session at the tenth edition of the Jagran Film Festival in Mumbai in September 2019, the director told the audience that he hails from the Konkan, which makes his decision of plumping for standard Marathi over the regional dialect all the more questionable. 

Except for this minor flaw, Picasso is a good film that also acts as a tribute to all those Dashavatar artistes who have been keeping this art alive for centuries with no acclamation in return.  

Picasso was screened at the 10th edition of the Jagran Film Festival in Mumbai in September 2019. It is now available on Amazon Prime Video.

Related topics

Jagran Film Festival Amazon Prime Video

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