A FILM IN MARATHI CALLED ‘PAANI’

At the Goa Marathi Film Festival in town…films to watch were Priyanka Chopra Productions’ and Adinath Kothare-directed Paani’; and Omkar Shetty-directedAaron’ which is filmed entirely in Paris …noted Marathi actor Sashank Ketkar and director Omkar Shetty were present at the screening of the film

BY TARA NARAYAN

MORE food for thought this week! Since I only see films in theatre when IFFI is in town I surprised myself last week recently when with thoughts of re-inventing myself and on the spur of the moment (and because I’d got some dates for an ESG press conference confused)….I was at a lost moment and purchased a ticket at the INOX to see the Hindi cinema’s latest blockbuster Kabir Singh which was screening at Audi 4. It’s 5pm film and the audi was barely half full, mostly young koochie koo couples and a few moon mooning oldie goldies like me!
It was a three-hour long film and I’d second and third thoughts about whether I’d be able to sit through such a long film, but succeeded in seeing it through. Well, Kabir Singh is one incredible, moronic love story of a super educated, high strung, egoistic, brilliant surgeon on self-destruct on one hand, and on the other hand pure male chauvinist in love with hormones going wild while in medical school…a rebel with radical thoughts of love and sex ever after, sets his medical institute on fire but everybody loves the guy! Later on while minting money in hospital posting and his love affair going bust… our surgeon friend is living on booze and snotting cocaine, seeking women to sexually enslave and domestic, boasting to friends, “I’ve got this celebrity female ironing my clothes right now!”
So da da da…time passes, our self-confessed alcoholic surgeon’s saga continues, he continues to operate with crazy nurses swearing by his brilliance! But his original love story is not working out. His angry but loving family doesn’t give up on rescuing him but realize that only cocaine turns him “normal” – his medical license is eventually revoked. It’s the story of two modern-day Punjabi families stuck in a groove of hypocritical moral dilemmas so much so our friend continues to struggle with his monumental ego, depression and sexual frustration… then, cop out!
He gets his original girl back in the second half of the film and everything is hunky dory anew in a somewhat Indian Mills & Boons happily ever after shaadi — glorious reconciliations all around. Interesting pass time film although it left me somewhat disenchanted and a little angry. Kabir Singh is a prolonged drag of a film although its cash registers are ringing all the way to the bank! I paid 200 for INOX ticket, another200 for the lousiest pair of luke warm samosa which I invested in at the foyer food outlet during interval time to nurse my rainy day blues.
IF you want to eat real samosa one of these rain-filled evenings check out the ones at the recently re-done Café Tato in Panaji town, they have the best batatavada; and their turmeric milk (now 50 per cup) is worth it. Funny, Café Tato samosa are value for money at30 something, while INOX samosa are worth chucking in the bin at `200 something! Lesson in all this somewhere. Serves me right for going to see a commercial Hindi film (a copy of Telugu original Arjun Reddy) to time pass on a feeling lost day.
THEN came the Marathi Film Festival and I was able to catch only Aaron and Paani — and was totally enchanted. Both films are absolutely memorable and my kind of films. I’m convinced Marathi cinema has arrived in sensibility and sensitivity and I’d rather see a Marathi film then a Bollywood Hindi blockbuster any day! Aaron is a beautifully crafted film with an unusual theme — Babu Apte is a teenage schoolboy anxiously waiting to be with his mother in Paris. But when his uncle takes him to Paris where the hunt begins to find his artist mother a sad story unfolds: Of a young widow unable to cope with life after her husband’s death, through ups and downs she sells off her house, “forgets” her son, takes to drugs, paints for a living…is eventually rescued by a Frenchman, her late husband’s friend, who puts her through drug rehabilitation. When her son and uncle find her and much comes out of the cupboard of the past it’s time for the boy to grow up in a hurry — his choice is to return to India with his uncle or to live with his mother married to a French man and with a stepsister?
It’s a moment of painful revelation for him when his mother asks him, “Why have you come?” The boy chooses to return to India with his uncle. The film is not just a whirlwind tour of France but about changing perceptions, relationships and realities…the transformation of a young boy’s mind.
As for Paani this is the sweetest love story I’ve come across in years. All of it interwoven against a poignant backdrop when water disappears from the lives of a village in Maharashtra – Nagdarwadi in drought-striken Marathwada. The film’s documents the real life story of a group of villagers working on a watershed project to recharge the underground water table in their district – so that they may have more water to farm their fields for a few more months. There is also the challenge of building a well for their village and herein we have a heartwarming account of faith, struggle, humor and irony as individual vested interests turn hostile and try to woo the villagers away from working on their long-term water project….eventually, inspired by one’s man passion, they strike water! Our hero marries the girl of his choice from another village — in an act of rebellion the girl tells her mother, “How can I not love and respect a man who is ready to bring water to an entire village just to marry me?”
No indulgences, no dramatics, no mush — Paani is a fabulously filmed aspirational story, at once humbling as also proving anew that where’s there’s a will, there’re always ways to win hearts and heart’s desires. Interestingly, the film is the much celebrated Priyanka Chopra’s production, or her company Purple Pebbles Pictures’ fourth Marathi production. Paani cast is made up of Adinath Kothare, Subodh Bhave, Kishore Kadam, Rucha Vaidya, Girish Joshi, Rajit Kapur, etc. Adinath Kothare, the “hero” of Paani, offers a most winning performance (he is the son of well-known actor and filmmaker Mahesh Kothare). Marathi cinema has a much larger audience vis-à-vis Konkani of course. I must tell you the subtitling in English is well translated and conveys the gist of the film effectively, even if your Marathi is as kitch piche as mine!
Paani is a film everyone must see in Goa including our politicians and farmers, for it defines a future Goa is heading into if it does not put its environmental foot down now — to save Goa from going the drought-stricken route to misery and suicide. Not joking. The availability of water is fundamental to all life on earth and it is one of our vital primary needs — reportedly, 40% of India is already affected by water shortages and water rationing is causing a lot of misery. Salvaging water resources should be on the top of any political or people’s agenda in Goa. And if you’re privileged enough to have water on tap at home, be grateful, use it but don’t waste it please! I don’t think for some time now I will be able to relish a glass of pure cool drinking water without thinking of the film Paani. And an emotion we call love… how it must be as precious as water, as life-giving, as pure, as tolerant, as magical… as water!

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