So I am no expert on Marathi movies. Haven't seen many classics to be sure of my cinematic references, but like everyone else, can tell a good film from a bad film. In the past few years I've loved a number of Marathi movies. My favorites have been Balak Palak, Jogwa, Natrang, Mumbai-pune-Mumbai; and more recently Katyar kaaljat ghusali and Court. By that list, you probably know that I don't follow the industry so closely, but whenever a movie gets critical or mass acclaimed, I end up wanting to watch it.
Sairat - had acclaim from both masses and critics. Why last weekend I couldn't reach the box office to get tickets for another Hindi movie in time simply because the queue for this movie so long! So there, I was geared to watch what will unfold.
With very little background I went in and what I experienced is so diverse that a small post wouldn't do justice. So a blogpost it is: Sairat navigates from a satire on rural Maharashtra to a cute teenage romance to a torrid love story and eventually to a heartbreaking drama - all in one movie. No mean feat.
Not having seen enough Marathi cinema it is tough to conclude if the story is singularly unique, but there are certainly some Bollywood parallels one could draw. We've seen parts of the story here and there in other films, but the gaavran cocktail is an original mix. And it's soul is its lead pair.
Newcomers Akash Thosar and Rinku Rajguru are the key reason this movie is as impactful as it is. As the goody boy Parshya and the fiesty Archi, the duo own the celluloid with their chemistry. It's QSQT meets Omkara, if you may, and their naive romance contrasts almost incredulously with the caste drama that is conspicuous even if it isn't uttered much in their bubbling romance in the first half.
Smartly directed by Nagraj Manjule, the film makes you love the lead pair and you find yourself struggling with them. Your heart goes out to them for every triumph, trials or trebulations they face, however big, small or outright brutal. It's like a fairytale suddenly becomes a reality show with guns and goons. As if the couple lives in two spaces in time simultaneously - one where they can't take eyes off each other, Can't imagine a moment without each other and where they mean the world to eachother. Another, where they can't stand anything about each other, let alone the dumpy circumstances that they've been forced into, and the overbearing world has diminished their love story. They believe in the first but are constantly living the second. Even as the heroine makes obvious mistakes, you can't help but see her Naive heart that wants to believe that there will be a happy ending.
Without giving away much and delving into the details, It is safe to say makes you question why our society is the way it is? Why is a couple's love the centre stage of a whole village? Why can't we let people be and let them love who they wish to? And eventually what did the society really achieve by interfering in what was pure, genuine and unadulterated.
Perhaps the success of the film is that these questions apply in contexts way beyond just the plot of this film, which heavily draws on caste. But the same can be said about the other divides that exist in our society over class, status and even gender. Sairat is a heartbreaking realisation that love isn't all you need to survive. Acceptance of your love is more important than your love itself.
The cinematic highlight is probably the final sequence that in my view could single handedly be responsible for its acclaim. It's understated and bold at the same time. Innocent and explicit at the same time. Hours later, the visuals still won't leave my mind.
The film runs close to 3 hours and you wonder if it could've been tighter?.. I say, yes. That is possibly the only critique along with the somewhat familiar moments in the initial part of the film.
It would be unfair to end the review without mentioning the musical duo Ajay-Atul, who alongside creating some great melodies have also made the lives of gully DJs easy by giving them the go-to-street-dance-song of the season. Make way to Zing zing zingaat- super catchy beats. The other songs too make a good impact.
Overall, I am lost between wether I adore the film or am shocked with the eventual message. There were times in the film I felt I want to watch it again and in the end I didn't know if I can ever go through such a celluloid heartbreak again. Definitely a very good film that will first make you fall in love and then want to wonder if there is such a thing as living in love or is it just stuff of fairy tales. I'll end by sharing what my friend said to me when I still had a grim face long after the movie - , "Get over it, it's just a movie!"
Bravo team Sairat!