What is the story about?
Gandharva, a precocious child, loves painting. Thanks to a painting competition held in school, Gandharva gets the opportunity to attend the national finals of the competition, where the grand prize is a chance to go to Spain to attend classes at the Picasso museum. Gandharva wants to attend, but he knows he cannot. Yet, he decides to go to a village fair, where his father Pandurang is performing in a Dashavtar play, to convince him to give him the money for registering for the national finals. Does Gandharva succeed?
A true artist lives and dies for his art. And great art is capable of moving even the most hardened and cynical of souls. This film is a rare example of art that transcends its meagre budget and dares to ask the question: can the worth of an artist be measured only in monetary terms? Director Abhijeet Mohan Warang answers this question by constructing a beautiful screenplay set in a small village in the South Konkan region of Maharashtra. It all appears deceptively simple at the outset: the atmosphere of the village, with its lush green environs and rain-kissed roads, seems to be a love letter to the monsoons. At the same time, Pandurang’s vulnerability looms like a huge shadow over his family. In contrast to the effervescence of Gandharva, Pandurang is a broken man. He struggles with alcoholism and smoking, unable to cope with the failing health of his wife. At the same time, he struggles to make ends meet, either as an idol-maker or as a Dashavtar performer.
Unfolding over the course of a single day and night, the story might appear to be simplistic until half-time. But it is in that jaw-dropping second half, when Pandurang lets loose on stage and sings, that you begin to understand why he is drawn to his art. Warang brilliantly showcases the entire practice of Dashavtar in a rural milieu—there are certain stretches where you stop looking at the audience’s faces and concentrate on the performers—but the real joy is in seeing how Gandharva and Pandurang perceive each other. As Pandurang keeps singing, Gandharva is transfixed by what his father is doing. And suddenly it all makes sense—a true artist may struggle to be financially independent, but if he is true to his art, nothing else matters. This may look like a little film, but it realizes its far-loftier ambitions beautifully. Well done, Amazon Prime Video. Oscar Wilde would’ve been proud.
The story is mostly centred on the father-son duo, and they are sublime. Prasad Oak brings great soul and empathy to his portrayal of Pandurang. Watching him perform in the Dashavtar play while struggling with his own demons and his son’s expectations is an uplifting experience. Samay Sanjeev Tambe is a revelation as Gandharva, and it is remarkable to see how beautifully he conveys the fluctuating fortunes of his own through his expressions. Ashwini Mukadam is restrained as Gandharva’s mother, Mangal.
Music & Other Departments
Some of the shots of the South Konkan region that cinematographer Stanley Mudda cans during the day, are breathtaking. Ably complemented by Aashay Gatade’s elegant editing and Ritesh Jadhav’s art direction, Mudda runs free with his extensive long shots. The real star, however, is the score by Anand Lunkad.
The Dashavtar sequence in the last half-hour is the highlight of this film.
None as such.
Did I enjoy it?
Do I recommend it?
Please watch it once. Do not be put off by the language (there are subtitles). This is a small film with a big heart.