'Ganvesh zhala ka mahal?'
(Buying Uniform Or A Bungalow?)
The sooty eyelashes of the little boy are unable to hide a hopelessness brought on by poverty and realisation that opportunity to make a speech before the entire village and the minister will slip out of his hands... Unless he gets a new school uniform.
'He has never asked us for anything, and this speech at the flag hoisting ceremony is really important,' The mother of the little boy implores in front of her employer, 'Could you give an advance on my weekly pay?'
'Will you sell your broken down bicycle?' The local politician asks the little boy's dad.
'Raise this placard and shout the slogans we tell you!' Another local thug tells the little boy's dad, 'Then we will give you some money.'
'Buy me the uniform first, then I will learn the speech!'
If you thought that it was going to be easy for a poor couple who work in a brick factory to buy their nine year old a new school uniform, then think again. The father promises to buy him a new uniform and this whole movie helps us realise that making promises is one things, and being able to fulfill them is another. It seems like a doable task for most of us, isn't it? There are so many things we take for granted in our lives. As the story unfolds, this errand to 'buy a new uniform' becomes insurmountable.
The setting of the story - the first half - takes just too long to establish how dirt poor the family really is. What is charming is the relationship between the mother, the father and the kid. Kishore Kadam is phenomenal as the gruff dad slightly pissed off at his inability to buy even that little uniform for his son. He has pride and will not cower down in front of bullies even when they bring down the argument to his penury. His wife, played beautifully by Smita Tambe is a perfect foil. She works hard, she teases her son, she scolds him about wanting more and at the same time worries about not being able to fulfill her child's little wish.
And what can you say about the sad yet hopeful little boy?
Tanmay Mande steals your heart right from when the camera sees him in the class room. Perfectly cast, he makes you want to jump into the movie and buy him a uniform.
In this world, Kishore Kadam crosses paths several times with Mukta Barve who plays the upright cop on duty. She looks the part and plays it convincingly. Her love for her uniform and her values make her a sympathetic figure in a world full of hooligan thugs with connections to people in power.
Although the movie is in Marathi, there are subtitles to help you get through the language barrier. Watch it for amazing performances and little hidden gems in storytelling: when the husband tells his wife to sit on the bicycle with him and she is embarrassed...
Dilip Prabhavalkar plays a good politician who also takes pride in wearing khadi is present for the Independence day flag hoisting ceremony and the story of the three uniforms comes spectacularly together. You come away smiling, and a craving for jalebis.