Overview: 2018 churned out an interesting dozen of Marathi films; rooted in aesthetics, storytelling and commercial viability. There was a wide range of content, from historical, commercial, love stories, sequels, rural and crime dramas – as usual.
The year saw release of much controversial film Nude by Ravi Jadhav, which garnered positive critical reception, Sachin Kundalkar’s Gulabjaam found a niche audience as well. Phantom Film’s foray into Marathi with National Award-winning director Makarand Mane’s Youngraad saw a commercial as well as critical failure. While Dharma Productions smartly backed Madhuri Dixit-Nene’s Marathi debut Bucket List, which opened to a thunderous response from fans and mixed critical reception. Pravin Vitthal Tarde’s Mulshi Pattern, a crime drama witnessed a long run at the box-office while those screened across the film festivals Sagar Vanjari’s Redu, Gajendra Ahire’s Pimpal, Mangesh Joshi’s Lathe Joshi & Sandeep Modi’s Chumbak garnered positive response but failed to sustain at the box-office. Pratima Joshi’s Aamhi Doghi was screened along with Nipun Dharmadhikari’s Dhappa at International Film Festival of India, Goa in Indian Panorama section.
Mass entertainers like Riteish Deshmukh’s Mauli, Sanjay Jadhav’s Ye Re Ye Re Paisa the historical drama Farzand and Avadhoot Gupte’s Boyz 2 irrespective of critical reception worked extensively. Satish Rajwade made an affable comeback after a disappointing sequel, in the third instalment of Mumbai Pune Mumbai. Nagraj Manjule and Umesh Kulkarni’s longterm Cinematographer Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti made his directorial debut with Naal, an endearing cinematic treat. Mahesh Manjrekar’s Mi Shivaji Park, Nana Patekar-starrer Aapla Manus and Kay Kay Menon’s debut Ek Sangaychay were hopeful venture which didn’t ignite a spark. And the balanced biopic Ani…Dr. Kashinath Ghanekar celebrated Diwali by striking chords across the state.
Note: The Top 05 list includes films released/screened at the theatres, film festivals and on the streaming platforms. Sandeep Modi’s Chumbak and Girish Mohite’s Take Care, Good Night were considered last year.
Special Mention | DHAPPA by Nipun Avinash Dharmadhikari
Dhappa is an explicit allegory stating fundamental right of expression, a challenging multidimensional perspective. Writer Girish Kulkarni pens a broad perspective into a housing society, a universal amalgamation engulfed within makes it more relatable and realistic. Dhappa is thoughtfully conceived and honestly directed, a relevant theme which crudely mirrors the society. Originated from a true story which took place in Pune, a rich cultural city where a children’s play on the occasion of Ganesh Festival featured Jesus Christ. Although a bit manipulative in its approach, but works in broader perspective.
05. CYCLE by Prakash Kunte
Prakash Kunte’s Cycle works as a morality tale when one believes in goodwill and innocence. Writer Aditi Moghe pens down a simple story with exquisite Production Design and intricate Direction upheld the sensibly rich venture. Amalendu Choudhary’s stunning Cinematography captives the essence of Konkan region adequately. Cycle balances the flow of humanistic approach as well as cinematic liberty, filled with steady pacing and humour – constantly surprising at every nook and corner.
04. REDU by Sagar Vanjari
Sagar Vanjari’s directorial debut Redu (Radio) is a classic example of Freudian Interpretation. Redu is an expression of the longing desires hidden, a story of relationship between a man and his radio which has been beautifully transferred on-screen. In technological progression, Redu makes us travel back to the era where the feelings of unwrapping a technology like Radio was immense and intense. Written by Sanjay Navgire along with Chinmay Patankar and Sagar Vanjari, brings out the child within and plays out as socially and whimsically as viable for acceptance. Redu follows the logical progression rather than the typical masala mess but here the most successful ambitious factor is its simplistic approach.
03. NAAL by Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti
Naal comes from a Cinematographer who has extensively worked with finest directors of Marathi Cinema: Nagraj Manjule and Umesh Kulkarni. The aesthetic value and rural essence can be noted in his directorial venture which flows as pure as holy water. 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. Naal joins the cord between adoption and experience in post-natal exploration, it surmounts the ambiguous nature through a meaningful narrative.
02. GULABJAAM by Sachin Kundalkar
Basically, being a filmmaker and chef is to some extent a similar, to serve a good dish one needs to be focused and know the perfect amount of the ingredients. Food stands as a metaphor to our lives while the writing (Tejas Modak and Sachin Kundalkar) flows structurally. Kundalkar’s European Cinema influence ignites for savouring moments, the underlying thoughts of the tradition and modernism walk along. Sachin Kundalkar’s Gulabjaam is a heartfelt and endearing delicious venture, the more you savour the flour-milk balls into the sugar syrup the more it soaks into making it sail into your mouth exquisitely. And so does the film, it tantalises.
01. LATHE JOSHI by Mangesh Joshi
Lathe Joshi is a profound cinematic piece, a milestone in Marathi Cinema with regard to storytelling. Titular character’s existence in Mangesh Joshi’s Lathe Joshi is minimalist, sometimes his existence isn’t noticed, he’s a keen observant – and the film defines the observant treatment likewise – master of subtlety, one of the finest subtle films after Court (2015). Juxtaposed with characters transforming into symbols, like the blind Mother who represents the tragic end of workers due to machines. Subtexts are integral which are directed towards the rapidly changing world, it comes across impactful because of the dark humour infusion. Progressing in a natural pace, it slowly takes us into the world of Joshi’s whose silence speaks volume. Cinematographer Satyajeet Shriram captures the symmetries of a breaking life, while moving over the character conflict the camera arrests us into the conflict – capturing the relationship dynamics with the machines remarks ironical frames.
That’s a wrap for 2018.
2019 begins with the much-awaited P. L. Deshpande’s biopic Bhai: Vyakti Ani Valli.
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