Mumbai, 02 Feb 2018 21:00 IST
The film, directed by Sameer Asha Patil, boasts of a talented cast.
At the outset it is safe to say that Sameer Asha Patil has made an impactful debut with Yuntum. The film portrays sensibly the idea of teenage love and the struggle one goes through in the adolescent years. The cast, mostly newcomers, helps its cause.
However, Yuntum suffers because of its timing; there have been a number of Marathi films along similar lines in the last few years.
The story of Yuntum takes place in an underdeveloped village in Maharashtra. Ranga (Vaibhav Kadam) is a poor, carefree collegian living with his father Raosaheb (Sayaji Shinde), mother, and elder sister.
Raosaheb was once a renowned shehnai player but now struggles to find work with the diminishing demand for shehnai players at weddings, thanks to the newfangled trend of hiring DJs. Raosaheb is annoyed to see Ranga enjoy DJ music. He wants him to become a shehnai player, but the youngster hates the very sound of the instrument.
During a fun activity at college, Ranga comes across the beautiful Meera (Apurva Shelgaokar) and falls for her. After a lot of hard work and much persuasion from his friends, he gets to know her better and she also develops feelings for him. But Meera is from a well-to-do family. Are the lovers destined to unite?
Since the new wave in Marathi cinema began around 2004, it has specialized in churning out realistic rural films. Yuntum also finds a place in the list. Director Patil gets it perfect as far as the portrayal of rural life is concerned. The personal life of Ranga, the condition of shehnai players and band musicians, the rural college scenario, the mobile ayurvedic shop and the conversations make it difficult to believe this is a work of fiction.
The love story does appear a bit filmi, but it is convincing, and that matters. The character of Meera could have been explored more as she has an interesting emotional back story. Ranga falling for her also results in some hilarious situations that are memorable. The art of playing a shehnai and how it helps form a bond between Ranga and his father comes as a pleasant surprise. In fact, the shehnai is an important character in the film.
The film's runtime — 145 minutes — is on the longer side. The story did not need this length and the narrative drags on quite a few occasions.
But as mentioned earlier, the biggest issue is that the film has arrived a good four or five years late. As the audience has already seen and loved films on similar lines — like Shala (2012), Fandry (2013), Timepass (2014) and Sairat (2016) — all Yuntum does is to remind you of them. This also makes the film predictable, especially the climax. Interestingly, Timepass was directed by Ravi Jadhav, who is a presenter here.
A couple of romantic songs and a fast dance number enhance the subject. But again you can’t help but draw similarities with the music of Sairat. The dance number ‘Yuntum Zhala’ especially reminds you of the hugely popular ‘Zinghaat’.
Yuntum boasts of a young cast that will hopefully turn out to be a find for Marathi cinema. Vaibhav Kadam plays the poor village boy well. He scores high marks in the romantic, funny, and emotional sequences. Apurva Shelgaokar is perfectly cast as the innocent girl who emotes well. She could have done with more opportunity to show her range.
Akshay Thorat and Rushikesh Jhagade, as Ranga’s best friends Ramya and Jedya, are commendable. And it is refreshing to see Sayaji Shinde not playing a ruthless bad guy, a role he has been stereotyped in over the years. Shinde delivers a moving performance as the struggling shehnai player and father.