There is no doubting the fact that songs are an essential element of Indian cinema. It is what we can call a unique feature of our cinema which is said to have originated from the Indo-Persian theatre. Some like the great Gulzar are of the opinion that every Indain movie must have a song as only that makes it a truly Indian film. Sadly, very few like Mani Ratnam or Gulzar have been able to put this feature to good use. More often than not it has made our cinema a laughing stock.
A few days ago I stumbled upon the video of the song posted below from the Marathi film Uttarayan directed by debutante Bipin Nadkarni. It is one of those rare instances where there is real good ‘cinema’ in the song included in the film. Uttarayan, the film, is based on Jaywant Dalvi’s play ‘Durgi’. It explores the concept of re-marrying of single elderlies so that they don’t live the last chapter of their life in stark loneliness.
The first thing that catches your attention in the video, apart from the lovely composition itself, is the chemistry between Shivaji Satam and Neena Kulkarni who play the two protagonists Raghu and Durgi respectively. The two veterans of Marathi theatre have been paired opposite each other in a few plays before like Mahasagar and Dhyanimani. No wonder they complement each other so effortlessly in the song. The way they just pass each other outside the house seems so natural. The director has smartly and successfully repeated this same situation in the song to depict the passing of time. And the credit must be given to the two actors who don’t make the treatment feel even one bit monotonous. Just observe the way they pass each other during the rains. Coupled with the camera angle the scenes feel very real. It felt to me as if I am actually watching an old man and a woman passing each other in the heavy rains from the window of my house. I was so impressed by the two senior actors that when the song goes into the sepia toned flashback mode the supposedly attractive younger actors hold no candle to the oldies.
Another brilliance of the video is how the scenes can be deciphered, even without listening to the dialogues, just by observing the characters in the frame. You can almost make out the conversation between them. My favourite scene is when Durgi comes home early to the surprise of Raghu who is sitting beside her ill Mother’s bed. Raghu who usually waits for her in the verandah is surprised by Durgi’s early return from work. The mannerisms, expressions and gestures of the three characters(Raghu, Durgi and her Mother) are enough for us to understand this situation. And all this doesn’t at all feel contrived.
Shivaji Satam, known to the country as ACP Pradyuman, is a pretty fine actor and this video is ample proof of the fact. The way he has just dozed off in the song while reading a book also impressed me. Or that scene when he is shown to be dreaming about Durgi even while an exciting cricket match is being played on TV is so convincing. Usually left to comic relief in films, an elderly man in love portrayed by him in the song seems so endearing. Neena Kulkarni who has forayed into cinema only in the last decade or so has had a high reputation in theatre. Her performances in films like Shevri and Gandha easily live up to her reputation. We get the best display of her skill in the 2-3 seconds when Raghu’s prospective daughter-in-law accidentally comes face-to-face with her. From her expression we can clearly make out that she has identified the girl from the picture Raghu has shown of her, but purposefully hides her feeling.
The subtle touches of the director like the exchange of positions of Raghu and Durgi on the swing during the flashback are definitely praiseworthy. He also obviously deserves applause for the performances he has been able to extract from his actors.
Finally, the video lets you know so much about the plot that it actually makes you want to watch the film. Though I haven’t watched the film as yet I am definitely looking forward to watching it, which in itself speaks a lot about the video.