NAAL: unraveling the umbilical cord

Post-Sairat, due credit to Nagraj Manjule’s artistic as well as commercial sensibility which embarked his name in every household across Maharashtra. Sairat (2016) was serenely shot by Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti, who makes a directorial debut with Naal. For a film produced by Manjule, it’s an enough USP for audience to turn up at the nearest theatres; leading the audience to tag it as “a Nagraj Manjule’s film”. Naal comes from a Cinematographer who has extensively worked with finest directors of Marathi Cinema: Manjule and Umesh Kulkarni. The aesthetic value and rural essence can be noted in his directorial venture which flows as pure as holy water.

Naal tracks an unexpected journey of experiencing motherly love through the world of Chaitanya (Shrinivas Pokale), living in a remote village pampered by a landlord Father (Nagraj Manjule) and loving Mother (Devika Daftardar). Chaitanya’s life has a set pattern which moves monotonously yet in a heartwarming manner, it drives in the calmness of a rural serendipity. Sudhakar Reddy manages to capture the essence and innocence of childhood in the most nuanced way, it unravels an umbilical cord. Naal is a picturesque film which immediately transports into Chaitanya’s innocent world and speaks about psyche of children experiencing various emotions. Sudhakar Reddy connects the cord by keeping a subtle and simple window pane, one which remains open for the world to seek and interpret accordingly.

Naal joins the chord between adoption and experience in post-natal exploration, it surmounts the ambiguous nature through a meaningful narrative. As Chaitanya’s village is far-fetched, where it takes numerous modes of transport to reach – it suggests a shield, kind-of a womb. But, for most of the time, it feels pretentious and repetitive; given the fact, the staged lighting works against the purity of the film. Also, it flows too smoothly like the river in Chaitanya’s village, against the halves working contradictory towards an emotional crescendo. Sudhakar Reddy notches up the pretentious (minor) flaws during a speechless climax; he avoids melodrama where scope would’ve been at peak.

Shrinivas Pokale is the real soul, whose impressive performance makes one howl over cuteness. But, the reigns of his stunning performance lies with deliverance of the local dialect, an overwhelming aspect. Devika Daftardar as Mother lends a phenomenal support, while Nagraj Manjule in a restrictive role is fine and Seva Chauhan, who plays Grandmother ends in a crackling performance at par her previous venture, Lathe Joshi (2018).

Naal unravels the umbilical cord between childhood, motherhood and motherly love – the coherent yet distinctive aspects are notched up by Sudhakar Reddy in a cinematic melody. It took sometime for the film to settle-in, nevertheless, it traversed various emotions like Chaitanya. The symphony of liveliness kept playing in a heartwarming atmosphere!


Language: Marathi
Release: 16 November, 2018
Rating: 3.5/5


Copyright ©2018 Ninad Kulkarni. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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