Mumbai, 05 Jan 2019 17:01 IST
The film, starring Sachin Pilgaonkar and Shilpa Tulaskar, works at the idea level.
Stories of estranged couples or lovers never seem to get old. The emotional roller-coaster ride at its core often lends these stories to repeated cinematic treatment.
Filmmaker Gajendra Ahire, who is known for weaving human interest stories out of simple, everyday characters, has explored a fractured relationship in his latest offering Sohalla.
The story begins with an aged, grubby Girish [Sachin Pilgaonkar] in ragged clothes struggling to find the address of Vidya [Shilpa Tulaskar] on a rainy day in Mumbai. He finally finds her apartment in a posh housing colony. Vidya is stunned and disgusted to see Girish; more so because of his arrogant ways. After initially not being ready to even have any conversation, she finally allows him to speak.
Girish and Vidya were once happily married and lived with their daughter and Girish’s father [Vikram Gokhale]. The latter becomes wheelchair-bound following a tragedy, taking away his only passion – singing. Despite the troubles, the family is satisfied with their affluent life.
One day, Girish and Vidya’s close friend [Lokesh Gupte] comes to stay with them. During his stay, a shocking incident causes a permanent rift between the married couple.
Back in the present, Girish now wants a favour from Vidya to put an end to their story.
To be fair to Sohalla, the film works at the idea level. The basic premise of an estranged couple meeting after a long time under unusual circumstances does pique your interest. It makes you feel for them.
After establishing the basic plot, a story must be developed further and taken to a satisfactory conclusion. But the problem with Sohalla is that the narrative just hovers around the premise for the most part. In other words, the basic idea is stretched thin with nothing substantial taking place. The writers sprinkle humour in bits, especially through the character of a lawyer [Mohan Joshi], but that just remains a gimmick.
Of course, the revelation of the back story in the form of a shocking incident infuses new hope in the film, even though it is not completely logical. Unfortunately, this turns out to be a false alarm and the proceedings just keep going around in circles yet again. The finale does move you a bit but that is too late in the day.
Ahire’s own Anumati (2013) also revolved around a basic idea of a senior citizen going on a mission to save his wife who is put on a ventilator. But the protagonist’s journey was filled with one interesting incident after another, ensuring the grip and interest never wanes. That grip is largely missing in Sohalla.
The songs, especially the classical numbers, are soothing but they mostly end up being obstacles in the narrative. The camerawork impressively captures the locales of the Konkan region, just like it did in Anumati.
The biggest positive point here is the performance of Shilpa Tulaskar. She is consistently impressive as she lives the journey of her character. Many a times she expresses her disgust for Girish without speaking a word, only through a single expression. Needless to say, she deserves to be seen more on the big screen.
Veteran actor Sachin Pilgaonkar is believable as a frustrated man who has no hope from life. But he overdoes a bit on a few occasions when he has to act mad and wild. Vikram Gokhale has only one dialogue in the film. But he shows his class by speaking through body language and expressions. Mohan Joshi is likeable as a lawyer with a sense of humour. Lokesh Gupte and Bharat Ganeshpure are noticeable in cameos.
Overall, Sohalla scores for its premise, but suffers due to bad execution.
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