Mumbai, 29 Jun 2017 13:00 IST
The Shashank Shende-starrer is by far the best Marathi film of the year. It will take some doing to beat this one.
One of the specialities of Marathi cinema, in the past decade or so, has been the constant production of rural stories with emotionally strong content. Of late, it has developed a sub-category of rural films where a child is one of the main characters. But these films are not children’s films.
Some noteworthy examples in this genre are Shala (2012), Jana Gana Mana (2012), Fandry (2014), Elizabeth Ekadashi (2015), and Killa (2016). Makarand Mane’s Ringan: The Quest joins this list. It is also one of the most touching films you must have seen in a long time.
The film tells the story of farmer Arjun (Shashank Shende) and his son Abhimanyu aka Abdu (Sahil Joshi). The former has been looking after his son after his wife's death. Arjun is debt-ridden and has no hope of repaying the money. He ventures out with Abdu to near and dear ones to seek financial help. Fate brings them to the holy town of Pandharpur. The two have high hopes from god, but will their faith be repaid?
Generally, such films are seen as 'festival films'. But it would be unfair to stick any such label on Ringan. Despite its subject and theme, it has mass appeal. The sad financial plight of farmers is the biggest conflict element, but it remains only the backdrop. This is refreshing as there have already been a number of Marathi films based on the plight of farmers, like Gabhricha Paus (2009).
Here, the focus is on the bittersweet bond between the child and his single father. Their conversations and the sweet conflict have you rooting for them from the word go. Instead of emotional or dramatic dialogues, the focus is smartly kept on unspoken words. In other words, the film relies completely on the visual medium. This was possible as Ringan is a rare occurrence of a film scoring high in all key aspects, be it story, screenplay, direction, performances, or even the technical areas.
The trailer gave the feeling that this is a story about a child in search of his dead mother. But after watching the film, one realizes that the tale is not limited to this. It is more about how a challenging situation puts a person’s clean and honest character to the test. This angle, and the way it is developed, is what takes the film to great heights. In the end, it becomes an example of a rural story dealt in a modern way.
The only noticeable negative is the slight flaw in the subplot of the prostitute. Thankfully, this doesn’t bother you much when you are leaving the cinema hall.
A large part of the story takes place in Pandharpur. Rohit Nagbhide’s music makes sure the location becomes another character altogether. The two songs — ‘Dev Pahila’ and ‘Vitthala’ — are superlative and play a role in aiding the narrative. Despite being devotional numbers, each is unique.
The same purpose is fulfilled by the background score. Coming to other technical area, cinematographer Abhijit D Abde has adhered to the simple nature of the film, but at the same time provided captivating visuals of Pandharpur.
Lastly, the performances of the two lead actors is what makes the final result so heartwarming. Shashank Shende has been delivering top-notch performances over the years. This time he gets an opportunity to play the lead. To put it simply, he is incredible. His flawless portrayal of the father will move even a stone-hearted individual.
Child actor Sahil Joshi matches up to Shende’s act and this is no mean feat. To be able to achieve this at such a young age is a mammoth achievement indeed. Abhay Mahajan as the sculptor Nilesh makes his presence felt through a mature act. The actor playing Shende’s boss and another playing a wise saint make an impact in cameos.
Overall, Ringan is by far the best Marathi film of the year so far. It will take some doing to beat this one.