Jogwa (2009)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Marathi cinema is coming of age and Jogwa is a shining example.

Jogwa is a story based on the superstitious principle of enslaving men and (mostly) women to the service of God or a Goddess. This unfortunate practice continues to this date. In fact, I was at the temple of Yellamma (the Goddess) this March. It didn’t strike me then, about this practice, though I saw these people in the temple vicinity.

Jogwa can be a very disturbing movie. If you are like me, the kind who is city-bred and most of our knowledge is theoretical, it can be an almost shocking experience. For one, it is about a disturbing practice in our society, secondly, it is a very intense narrative. Importantly though, it has extraordinarily powerful performances. Needless to say, the most powerful performance is by Upendra Limaye. Mukta Barve’s performance is also impressive. Vinay Apte delivers very well, unlike his presentation in Raajneeti (Review).

One happy surprise of the movie is Kishore Kadam. He is proving to be the perfect part in stories like these (he has delivered very well in Natarang (Review Pending) to the same effect) where he provides just the right amount of tension that certain characters in a story create. The character that is both black and white but neither, yet not grey. A character that humanises the story. Very few are able to play this part – I think Kishore Kadam does this with ease. It will be interesting to see if there are any more flowers in his bouquet.

The execution and production values are very good. Though I’ll admit there is a Santosh-Sivan-like ghost that haunts the cinematography and most of the movie uses high-contrast and high-saturation. Why do most Marathi movies occur in the Sahyadris in the Monsoon or just after it? I’d like to believe that a high-level of de-saturation would have intensified the performances. The bright and rich colours seem to betray a need to soften the impact that this film can have on you.

Even the bright colours however, could do little to hit you in the head with a hammer, the way the movie does. To call this a serious film would be an understatement. If you get affected by a raw presentation of social issues, you may want to opt-out. I’d however recommend it for Limaye’s performance. He is well supported by a some very smart performances by the rest of the cast.

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