‘Mumbai-Pune-Mumbai’ and the Television series ‘Eka Lagnachi Doosri Goshta’ have made Satish Rajwade a popular name in Maharashtrian households. I am not a big fan of Mumbai-Pune-Mumbai, but the television serial was a welcome change from the glut of substandard stuff on television. My main grouse with the former is that it borrowed heavily from Richard Linklater’s Before Sunsrise/Before Sunset. The makers of the film lacked the integrity to let people know their inspiration. On the contrary, Satish Rajwade accepted all the praise showered open his ‘fresh idea’ with open hands, by an obviously ignorant Marathi public and media. Never once, in interviews or otherwise, did he acknowledge his inspiration and that has made him enter my bad books. Though the television serial did help him redeem himself a bit. In a curious case of selling the rights for a remake of an ‘original concept’ of a film that is inspired in the first place, the makers, quite hilariously, have sold the rights for Mumbai-Pune-Mumbai’s remake in Telugu titled ‘Made in Vizag’ to be directed by Kanimani. How I wish somebody lets Linklater know of all this.
Last year, Rajwade’s Badam Rani Ghulam Chor failed to rise above the popular Marathi play, Makdachya Haathi Champage( A champagne in the hands of a monkey), it was based on. The promos of Premachi Goshta that were released late last year were promising and that Atul Kulkarni was visibly reinventing himself by playing a romantic lead was reason enough for me to get excited. But Premachi Goshta turned out to be a spoiler as it is simply a bad film, notwithstanding Atul Kulkarni’s performance. The decently promoted film, has Atul Kulkarni playing Ram Subramaniam, a failed writer who is forced to write the scripts of remakes of Tamil/Telugu films into Marathi or hindi. His wife(Sulekha Talwalkar) isn’t too successful an actress herself and believes that two professionally unsuccessful people aren’t capable of living together happily and hence opts for a divorce even when Ram feels that relationships should be given their own sweet time and opting out of them isn’t an option. Enter Sonal(Sagarika Ghatge), who ‘accidentally’ ends up meeting Ram in the marriage counselor’s office, they get talking and are left impressed by each other. Sonal too is seeking divorce from her husband as she has come to believe in the ‘you are either married or happy’ philosophy. Another contrived accident ensures that Sonal starts assisting Ram in his work and by then you needn’t be a genius to guess the third act of the film. But, hell yes, a boy and a girl(or a man and a woman in this case) have to fall in love in a romantic film, titled Premachi Goshta( A Story of Love) at that. It is instead the journey rather than the destination that makes or breaks such films and Premachi Goshta fails quite miserably there.
The major problem lies in the script, written by Chinmay Kelkar, itself. Apart from a few resonating dialogues that echo the views of modern Indian men and women on love and marriage, there isn’t much to take home. Too simplistic for its own good, the plot unfolds rather predictably making the journey to the destination a boring affair. The tendency to speak out everything certainly left me squirming in my seat. Nothing is left to read between the lines and subtlety is thrown out of the window. Not to say anything about the total lack of depth in the story and characters.
Rajwade, rather annoyingly, doesn’t seem to have come out of his TV serial mode and directs his film like one, quite unabashedly. The framing of the characters and also all the talking they do is remnant of his TV serials. What also irked me was there was absolutely no sense of time and place in the film. What Mumbai were they living in? Empty and smooth roads, clean beaches and even a scenic fort by the sea that one can visit to ponder over one’s thoughts in complete peace and isolation! This is certainly not the Mumbai we know. The art direction is pathetic to say the least. The houses are spic and span, the offices humungous and very well-kept and we are talking about people struggling professionally here. Only hanging posters of tamil films like Boss Enigra Bhaskaran( which the sharp eyes of our Chief Editor noticed from the trailer itself ) don’t add authenticity to the utterly artificial and shallow production design.
Now, the performances of the romantic leads are easily the most crucial part of such a film. But in this case too the film turns out to be a mixed bag. Atul Kulkarni, for once, plays a mainstream romantic lead and the brilliant actor excels at that too. His earnest performance , by quite a distance, was the biggest positive and probably the only reason that held me back from walking out of the film. On the other hand, Sagarika Ghatge is a casting disaster. Once you are done with admiring her pretty face and charming smile you realize that her performance is very weak indeed. Her suspect dialogue delivery and terrible pronunciations make you wonder whether Rajwade isn’t aware of a procedure called Screen Testing. Whatever little freshness that her face brings to the film is washed away in no time. Her face, be it anytime of night or day, is always well-kept reiterating the feeling that Rajwade is still stuck in his television mode. Sulekha Talwalkar, Satish Rajwade and Rohini Hattangadi in supporting roles are up-to-the-mark.
The film at times almost suggests that it belongs to the school of thought where all you need to have is good looking people, wearing good looking clothes, hanging around in good looking places and the audience will inevitably fall for it. This certain sense of taking the audience for granted in the film hasn’t really gone down well with me.
You realize that somewhere there was a scope to at least make the characters more interesting when Atul Kulkarni explains his Tamil surname by just saying, ‘Mom Maharashtrian, dad Tamil. Matunga.’ . Nuances of Ram’s interesting profession of remaking South films into marathi/hindi are also mostly unexplored. It seems like Rajwade and the scriptwriter Chinmay Kelkar never took their plot and characters seriously. So I fail to see a reason why we too should take their efforts seriously.
So, Premachi Goshta is an utterly simplistic, shallow and boring love story that is not worth the time and even the tax-free charge you pay for the ticket.