Panaji, 23 Nov 2017 3:17 IST
The film, directed by Gajendra Ahire, is a picture-perfect postcard with just the right words to warm the cockles of your heart.
Pimpal moves slowly, like the grass swaying in the winter breeze. The film, directed by Gajendra Ahire, is a picture-perfect postcard with just the right words to warm the cockles of your heart.
Ahire has revealed that the story for Pimpal came to him from a 17-year-old Chintamani Ahire. He has carefully chosen veteran Marathi actor Dilip Prabhavalkar to play Arvind, a senior citizen who battles loneliness as he lives in a virtual world, with ‘virtual happiness that has no touch or smell’ but only feelings.
Prabhavalkar has nothing to prove to anyone anymore. His vast body of work over the years makes him a special choice. Yet, in Pimpal, he gives a performance that will be counted among the best and remembered for ages.
The glint in his eyes when he is speaking to his grandsons on Skype, the happiness when he is transported to the village he left to make a life, the times he harmlessly flirts with his Doctor, the emotional moment when his family in the USA celebrates his birthday over Skype — Prabhavalkar makes you feel the loneliness he is going through. Though he insists he is happy, in conversations with Seema, his deceased wife, we feel all is not okay with the old man.
The birthday scene where he breaks down, sitting alone in the dark, his face lit up from the laptop screen, is poignant, as on the other end are his sons and grandchildren wearing new, traditional clothes and eating mithai to celebrate Ajoba’s (Grandpa's) birthday.
The film opens with a shot of a village road, and an old herdsman narrating his life in a nutshell. He says his son educated himself and broke the family tradition of being a herdsman. He says their fortunes changed for the better. The scene cuts to the bedroom of another old man, who wakes up, looks into the mirror, and says with a naughty smile that he is still handsome.
Arvind has difficulty passing time since his wife died 10 years ago. He lives alone and follows a routine through the day. His interactions are limited to his Doctor (played by Priya Bapat), who is also his companion during his morning stroll and his Man Friday. Arvind shares a love-hate relationship with his cook (played by Kishore Kadam), as the latter refuses to butter his rotis in keeping with the Doctor’s instructions. His interactions with these two characters are real and heartwarming.
For the audience Arvind is lonely. However, the voiceover of Arvind speaking to his dead wife barely quivers with regret or loneliness. He is always cheerful, and his ease of getting along with the two main characters present in person is that they address him as ‘boyfriend’, ‘sweetheart’ or ‘Dada’. After a nasty fall in the bathroom, Arvind’s sons insist that he move to the USA with them.
As Arvind prepares to move to the US, he is faced with the dilemma of wanting to carry all his memories with him. His sons’ toy cars, medals and trophies, Seema’s sarees, photo albums and even letters. Among these letters he finds a purpose to handle unfinished business from years ago. The camera moving away with Arvind's back to it, surrounded by these items, is metaphorical in many ways. As Arvind is adamant to take them all with him, he is also slowly realizing the futility of it all as he prepares to face death someday.
Director, dialogue and screenplay writer Gajendra does a fabulous job with his lead cast. He infuses poetry and metaphors to make simple points throughout the film. The analogy of a pimpal (peepul) leaf living its life, then wilting away to become one with the soil, is used aptly as Arvind yearns to become one with the soil.
As the film progresses, some regrets that Arvind has come up. But the only flaw in his perfect character is fixed as he redeems himself towards the end.
Gajendra uses flashbacks generously to chronicle the life that Arvind lived without making them boring. Krishna Kumar Soren’s camerawork and Narendra Bhide’s music provide fabulous support, often giving the audience a lump in its throat by enhancing the experience of dialogues.
Bapat and Kadam chip in with worthy performances, but Pimpal is Dilip Prabhavalkar’s show all the way. This film will make you smile and weep at the same time. Do not miss this gem.