Friday, February 09, 2018

Review: AAPLA MANUS (Marathi)

A Story Of Many Homes
Great Start, Preachy Patriarchal Ending

2 stars

Mini Review:

Why are we still making movies where the central message is: Daughters-in-law must stay at home and cook? It alienates the new generation of cinema goers, and the 'old' people the film is trying to portray as 'selfless sacrificial people' come across as manipulative so it will put them off too! Plus, the manipulation by a policeman is so wrong, you come away hoping he will be sacked. So who is this film made for? 

Main Review:

Let's get this straight: Nana Patekar is still awesome. Whether he's being the crafty cop, or the manipulative dad, Nana uses his voice, his body language so well, you forget that it is a movie and begin to take sides.

Sumit Raghavan and Iravati Harshe are wonderful in their roles needlessly playing second fiddle to Nana Patekar. You wish they had been given equally powerful dialog to keep the balance. But that's not why the play was written (the film is based on Marathi play 'Katkon Trikon' where Mohan Agashe played the central character and 'Dear Father' in both Hindi and Gujarati where Paresh Rawal plays the role). The play does harp on the loneliness of the older generation as the sons and daughters-in-law, but the film serves this on a platter that is unpalatable. And you do not have an inch of sympathy for the lonely old man.

He calls everyone in his phone book to 'check' if his daughter-in-law is there 'instead of coming home' even though it is well after ten pm... It is such a nasty thing to do, you are happy he's jumped off the balcony and maybe dead.

But the cop, Inspector Maruti Nagargoje insists that the old man was pushed off the balcony. This could be an interesting whodunit, you think, and you begin to watch. The film cleverly via conversation converts the cop into the nasty old dad. 

It is very interesting to see in a Marathi scenario where the father - who is usually venerable and affable - is shown to be so manipulative, bordering on the nasty. 

So here's a cop, making the son and the daughter-in-law feel guilty for ignoring the old man and then feel like criminals when he accuses one and then the other for attempting to murder the old man. Each of these arguments is so convincing you watch with complete interest as Nana Patekar makes you believe that the son has plotted to kill his father. And not half an hour ago you believed him when he pointed an accusing finger at the daughter-in-law for killing the father-in-law out of sheer hate.

Deftly he makes us (and the son and bahu duo) that it could be a suicide too, and that the cops would charge them for negligence and for pushing the old man to the brink of suicide. 

The end is so botched, so preachy, you want to take a gigantic knife and stab the cop/dad as well as the writer. It is just there to make the audience feel guilty about their ageing parents. Fifty years ago, perhaps, a writer could get away by saying that children need to show more gratitude to parents who sacrifice everything. Today the economic realities are different and women are educated and are making difficult choices every day, this end where Nana admits to manipulating the son and the daughter-in-law is just not convincing. Had the old man manipulated the two, we would have appreciated his death. But the old man is alive, with the possibility of him being even more of a pain, and here is Nana, projecting his anger, despair and disappointments from his own son on to these unsuspecting duo.

The last speechifying and preaching at Sumit Ragahvan and Iravati Harshe is like a very bad reprise of Natsamrat. And in real life, a policeman would be out of his job for doing this to anyone. 

Ajay Devgn's foray into producing this film is great effort. Nana's acting is superb as always. But everything seems to be so stretched and then facepalmworthy, that you come away disappointed.   

P.S. The trailer is just fabulous.

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