Mumbai, 07 Feb 2020 7:30 IST
Updated: 09 Feb 2020 14:10 IST
Vegali Vaat also tries to be a family drama that focuses on the father-daughter relationship but is not quite effective.
Ram (Sharad Jadhav) is a farmer who has mortgaged his land to a local moneylender. He has not yet received compensation from the government for the loss of his crop because of a hailstorm. To make matters worse, the moneylender wants his money within 48 hours.
With nowhere to go, Ram seeks help from the Deshmukhs (Yogesh Soman and Geetanjali Kulkarni), schoolteachers, who agree to repay his loan but on the condition that he will let his daughter Sonu (Anaya Pathak) live with them.
Sonu is a bright student who always stands first in class. Everyone is fond of her, especially the Deshmukhs. One day Sonu comes up with an idea that could solve her parents' financial woes, but is it too late? Will her Idea prove fruitful or only make matters worse?
Though the struggle of farmers to pay back their debts is a familiar subject for Marathi cinema, Vegali Vaat does a good job of keeping you hooked for the most part. It is when the film deviates from the farmer's problems and tries to focus on the father-daughter relationship that it begins to lose steam.
The film starts well enough and hooks you right away mainly because of the performances of Sharad Jadhav and Neeta Donde. Jadhav does a fine job of showing the helplessness of a farmer and the frustration of a father who can’t even provide the basic necessities for his family. The actor has understood the character well and brings out the correct emotions without going overboard. Jadhav’s understated performance is the film's biggest plus.
The next-best performance comes from Donde, who plays Ram’s wife. She is Ram's constant support. Even when he loses all hope it is she who stands with him and encourages him. She walks the line between being a supportive wife and a mother who can’t accept the truth that her daughter will go away from her.
Child artiste Anaya Pathak makes an honest attempt but struggles in certain emotional scenes. It is her first film and she will only improve from here on. Geetanjali Kulkarni and Yogesh Soman get only a few scenes and the script has not required them to bring their best to the table, but they do a fine job nevertheless.
The script by Achyut Narayan captures the struggle of a farmer from the Vidarbha region well. He has also woven some sweet moments of the special father-daughter relationship.
For the most part, the film keeps you engaged, but after an interval the focus shifts to the parents' struggle to come to terms with the truth that their beloved daughter will leave them forever. Initially, the emotional aspect of it keeps you interested but after a while it starts to get repetitive. It appears that once the conflict was introduced, the filmmaker wasn't quite sure how to keep it engaging enough.
Though this is his first feature film, it is quite evident that writer-director Achyut Narayan has good command of the craft of filmmaking. Instead of being preachy and overly dramatic, he chooses to keep matters as realistic as possible. It is only when he deviates from the main theme and tries to make it emotional that he struggles.
The cinematography by Shakil Khan is another bright spot. It is not extraordinary, but it successfully transports you to the region. The barren land, the taluka market and the long stretches of road with hardly any vehicles in sight, Khan’s camera captures all the details of life is in a remote part of rural Maharashtra.
The film's music is a drawback, however. There are simply too many songs. Though all of them are used in the background, they tend to slow down the pace of the story.
Overall, Vegali Vaat is a decent attempt by Achyut Narayan and worth a watch if one is interested in a serious subject this weekend.
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