Mumbai, 22 Feb 2021 16:58 IST
The film, directed by ad filmmaker Sijo Rocky, explores the question of whether physical beauty really matters.
They say all is fair in love, but does this saying apply to those who do not have fair skin? Sijo Rocky's Preetam (2021) explores this notion in depth.
Preetam (Pranav Raorane) is a hardworking but not very good-looking young man. Because of his dark skin and lanky figure, he has always been the butt of jokes among friends and villagers.
Preetam, who is a milkman, is the sole breadwinner of his family. Despite all his hard work, his drunkard father always belittles him for his complexion. In fact, throughout his life, he has never been called by his name. All the villagers call him names based on his skin colour.
Things take a turn for the better for Preetam when the beautiful Sujata (Nakshatra Medhekar) comes from Pune to live in the village. To everyone's surprise, Sujata and Preetam become close friends and soon fall in love. Like every love story, there is a twist in this tale. And here that twist appears just before the interval. From that point on, the film becomes a more serious affair.
Beautifully shot by Om Narayan, Preetam has some exquisite visuals of the Konkan in all its glory. With the entire village covered in lush greenery, crystal clear water running through the canals, and streams, you can almost smell the fresh air.
Om Narayan's camera uses the setting to its full advantage to draw us into Preetam's world. It also helps that most of the film takes place during the monsoon, allowing the cinematographer to take some eye-pleasing shots.
The fresh casting of Pranav Raorane and Nakshatra Medhekar is the film's strong suit. Raorane features in almost every scene. Despite that, one never tires of seeing him.
Preetam's gradual change from timid, innocent young man to a guy who doesn't mind crossing into morally ambiguous territory to get the woman he loves is shown quite naturally. Raorane successfully shows the pent-up frustration and anger of someone who is constantly mocked for his skin colour, something he has no control over.
The focus of Ganesh Pandit's screenplay is firmly on Preetam, his actions, and the consequences of those actions. We experience the film from his point of view. Throughout the film, this point of view never changes, allowing us to feel every emotion of Preetam. Also, surprisingly, the film is quite unpredictable and bends certain unwritten rules of how love stories should be presented.
Medhekar's Sujata is more of an idea than a character, at least in the first half. Apart from looking drop-dead gorgeous, the film doesn't reveal much about her character. The film would have been a lot more impactful if we got to know Sujata better.
Upendra Limaye, Ajit Devle, Sameer Khandekar and Vishwajit Palav, who play Preetam's friends, have done decent jobs. But their characters don't have much depth.
At 2 hours 12 minutes, the film is quite long, especially for a romantic comedy. After a point, you begin to feel the length. Editor Jayant Jathar could have chopped at least a dozen minutes from the film to make it more compact.
Despite these shortcomings, Preetam is a good attempt by first-time feature filmmaker Sijo Rocky. One hopes this kind of attempt gets more recognition from the audience. It was disheartening to see an empty theatre for a good film, especially when you can hear people enjoying a Hollywood film on an adjacent screen.
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