Me Shivajiraje Bhosale Boltoy (2009)

After Valu (2008), this is the first (new) Marathi movie that I have enjoyed watching. The cinematography and the pace made it for me. The camera-work is practical and well-employed and the story progresses along a fine pace. However…

Warning: Potential Spoilers Ahead

… I did feel at times that the premise of the story was quite a bit contrived. Sachin Khedekar (playing Dinkar Bhosale) though doing pretty well in the role, is a character that you (or, at least I) cannot relate with. Attributing the weakness of the character to people belonging to a region seemed a bit far fetched to me. In telling the story (of how a community must rise to the apparent subjugation by extra-regional infiltration), the entire community gets defined by the lack of a particular person’s self-respect. To me, that is unacceptable. All through the earlier part of the movie the protagonist undergoes severe humiliation, which is fairly exaggerated. How the above-mentioned subjugation has occurred is pretty vague and (deliberately?) left to the imagination of the audience. Irrespective of the region you belong to — what kind of a person would accept the humiliation from a shop assistant and a fish-seller, as has been depicted in the movie?

I do not imply that such events never occur at all, however, they can never be the basis of defining a community’s ethos. The character suffers from a severe victim complex which is highlighted by his relatively difficult economic state. It is fine as a specific case.

When I think back on the purpose of presenting the character the way it was portrayed in Me Shivajiraje Bhosale Boltoy (2009), I am forced to think that it addresses the ever-growing folks who do actually feel like the character in the movie. It is not addressed to the region at large. I take solace in that.

As the story progresses, the protagonist meets with the king and complains of how he has been continuously robbed of opportunities by people coming in from the rest of the world. The dialogue by Mahesh Manjrekar (playing Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj) about how the protagonist wears his deficiencies as a garland of pride, really was the key to the entire movie, for me. (“What you should be ashamed of, you sound out as your pride.”). Chatrapati reminds Dinkar Bhosle of his lineage and kindles his pride. This part of the movie was most interesting, for me. I have always wondered, when someone evokes a sense of pride in us what do they truly intend? For us to make a show of slogans? Or to own the sense of pride itself? Pride is a characteristic, not an ornament. Most people, don’t understand that. As an ornament, it is something outside of you — doesn’t “belong” to you. As a characteristic, it is a part of you and you never have to try and express it. Your existence is a factor of that pride.

Towards the second half and nearing the end of the film, all interactions that the protagonist commits — with the film producer, with the police man, the BMC officials or the builder — are very fungible. They could be true of any community in any region. All communities carry their share of good and bad and mad. The terrace speech, in fact, has national appeal.

Technically, I wish the movie was slightly better edited. I think I remember seeing a TV tower as Chatrapati races down to Mumbai on a horse. It could have been avoided, but I guess there is an element of cross-over of time-spaces, so that could be forgiven. The repeated low-angle hooves are a bit overdone. Mahesh Manjrekar could do well with some make-up for the black circles, but he played the character well. Siddharth Jadhav (as Usman Parkar) is a treat to watch (you half-expect him to do something funny!)

All in all, an enjoyable movie (Marathi humour’s sensibility seems to have found it’s way back, a bit) with a message — but you will have to see the movie to decide what it means for you and what your take-away will be.

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