Mee Vasantrao – a movie review

Mee Vasantrao’ is an amazing Marathi language movie. It’s a biopic of legendary Marathi singer, Vasantrao Deshpande who created a place for himself in the minds and hearts of Marathi music aficionados quite late in his life, when he was in 40’s.

Rahul Deshpande, grandson of Vasantrao Deshpande plays his grandfather’s role with aplomb. An excellent classical singer in his own right, Rahul doesn’t disappoint when it comes to acting. I had always thought that he had taken to acting as a hobby, taking acting roles which gave full scope to his unparalleled singing talent. How wrong I was! He has lived the role of his grandfather; I would go so far as to say that this is his career defining role. While he has acted well throughout, two moments in the movie really stood out for me; his heated exchange with traditional music purists in Pune and his take on the art of Baithakichi lavani.

If Rahul Deshpande impresses, Anita Date, who has played the role of Vasantrao’s mother, deserves awards galore for playing the role of a feisty, strong willed woman raising a child singlehandedly, with grace and confidence. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I say that she is the soul of this movie.

Pushkaraj Chirputkar, who plays the role of Vasantrao’s best friend, P. L. Deshpande or Pula, for short, is a surprise package. Playing the role of an extremely loved and respected personality in all Maharastrian households is no mean feat. Pula was known for his perfect comic timing and Pushkaraj has captured this nuance perfectly.

Amey Wagh, playing the brief role of Shri Dinanath Mangeshkar and Alok Rajwade, playing the role of Mama (maternal uncle) of Vasantrao, convince you that the future of Marathi cinema is in good hands.

I don’t remember the name of the actress who plays a veteran lavani singer, but she too manages to grab attention of the viewers in the briefest of roles.

The Direction of Nipun Dharmadhikari is top-notch. Whether it is perfect casting (note Durga Jasraj playing the role of Begum Akhtar) or the apt locales and wada’s/neighbourhoods, he captures the old world charm beautifully. Also note the frames, the play of light and dark, throughout the film and especially during the lavani scene. Mark my words, if one goes by this movie, Nipun Dharmadhikari is destined for future glory as a Director.

Don’t miss this movie if you love meaningful cinema.

Yatindra Tawde

Glossary :

Lavani– lavani sung and enacted before a larger audience in a theatrical atmosphere is phadachi lavani

Baithakichi lavani- a lavani sung a private and select audience is baithakichi lavani

Photo credits – Jio Studios, Viacom18 Studios

Shakuntala Devi – a Movie Review

SPOILER ALERT

Watched Shakuntala Devi – the movie yesterday. It’s a very well made movie by Anu Menon. I think it’s her third movie.

The movie captures the life of Shakuntala Devi who was known as the Human Computer due to her dexterity with Mathematics, right from her childhood. 

Frankly, I wasn’t keen to watch this movie. How entertaining a movie on a mathematician can be, I had thought. I am thankful to my wife and daughter for pulling me in front of the TV screen.

In no time I was sucked into the narrative, thanks to an effervescent child artist and the capable direction. How a grown-up Shakuntala’s attitude was moulded at an early age, has been depicted wonderfully.

I loved the depiction of Shakuntala Devi’s independent behaviour and never-say-die attitude.

And what can I say about Vidya Balan, who has lived a role which progresses from a teenager to a matronly figure, never once slipping out of character. I just loved her characteristic ‘Havier with J silent’ whenever she interacts with the Javier character.

While her effervescent act of Shakuntala Devi’s youth is lovable, I was blown away by her depiction of Shakuntala Devi’s later years, especially after her motherhood. The struggle to live an independent, jet-setting life conducting her Maths shows while raising a daughter singlehandedly has been shown without being over dramatic. 

Few scenes from the movie will remain with you long after it is over. Her hate for her overbearing and exploitative father and a silently suffering mother; the scene where her husband tells her that the first word spoken by their daughter is papa; her confrontation scene with her husband over their daughter’s custody, well their are many such.

But the scene-stealer is her solitary scene when she goes back to her childhood home and breaks down on seeing the yellowing newspaper cutting’s of her Maths exploits, which her mother had been religiously collecting in an old trunk; the same mother whom she had hated all along for being the silent, all-suffering woman.

Also noteworthy are Vidya’s scenes with Sanya Malhotra, who plays Shakuntala Devi’s daughter. Sanya reminds the audience that she too is one talented actress. 

Jisshu Sengupta, who plays Shakuntala Devi’s husband, plays his part with sufficient restraint.

Shakuntala Devi is an excellent movie of a strong, self-made woman and a loving if, overbearing mother. Recommended for everyone.

It is a worthy addition to Vidya Balan’s movie repertoire like Parineeta, The Dirty Picture, Lage Raho Munnabhai, Kahaani, et al.

Yatindra Tawde