Just when I was relaxing, feeling good about Marathi Cinema doing quality production and tangentially effective story-telling, along comes Duniyadari (2013). In less than five-odd minutes of the start of the film, the protagonist is supposed to go to SP College. You have the undivided attention of this movie-goer. SP College is my alma mater.
alma mater: noun (one’s Alma Mater) the university, school, or college that one formerly attended. ORIGIN mid 17th cent. (in the general sense ‘someone or something providing nourishment’): Latin, literally ‘generous mother’. [Italics, mine; just to give you a context of the post that follows]
So you are telling a story linked to my generous mother. You will of course forgive the current scandal – which I had nothing to do with – but my niece is affected and out on the streets, protesting and such; which, is a prerogative of every college student in India; and perhaps the world. I believe, that while you are in college, at least one such issue has to come up, where you can
participate protest. When I was in SP College, the Mandal Commission had come out. We protested against that. Eventually, most of us will pay lip-service to social issues; but this is the time when you can express yourself as much as you can. Kudos to my niece! But, let us not talk about that for now, for this is a review of a movie.
So, this movie is about a few college going kids, who become friends due to certain unintended circumstances and towards the end of the movie – it all becomes quite lopsided and queasy. I’ll explain.
Don’t take my word for it. Here’s an “opposite” review. Read it before you read any further.
[FAIR WARNING: Guaranteed spoiler and influencer ahead]
Guy meets girl, falls in love, rest of his friends tease him. Standard. Some stupidity with a police officer and the revenge is to entangle the daughter of the police officer in a love game. [Long ago, we saw something similar in Tezaab] – the bet to entice a girl to fall in love. And of course, the bet works (with some implausible stupidity) and the protagonist is now conflicted between his real love and his wagered love. There’s some wishful slapstick comedy (which has been the survival mechanism of Marathi Cinema for a few years) that is extremely weak and in effective to buttress the plot. Because Marathi Cinema needs to be shown as progressive, there’s a small scene of physical intimacy – do not get your hopes up – you don’t get to see anything. The assumed prudery of the assumed audience is intact. I forgot to mention, this movie is set in the 70s apparently. The art director was probably born in the nineties. If you were 20-something in the 70’s, be ready for a shocker. In the late-eighties and early nineties, I often went to Alka Talkies – I can assure you – it was nothing like what has been depicted in the movie. SP College is along Tilak Road – and it could not have the amazing open space as depicted in the film. It is probably the same building that was used in Munnabhai MBBS. I don’t care. If you wanted to show SP College, and did not get permission to shoot there, call it something else! It’s fiction!
I’ll get back to my favourite concept that I use when I watch movies. Suspension of disbelief.
It didn’t work!
Let’s forget the art direction and the SP College and the Alka Talkies. Some repetition assured.
Dumb guy gets slapped because of mistaken identity – slapper eventually apologises for mistaken identity – slapped guy gets intimidated by rival gang – finds credo – and therefore finds place in slapper gang – falls in love with a medical student (SP College is and has never been anywhere near a medical college) – gets slapped by an inspector for a misdemeanour – gang wants revenge on inspector – entice daughter of inspector – she sees through the plan – yet falls in love [Erm. Where are the feminists?] – hero is conflicted – gang leader (non-hero) goes through love crisis – somewhere in the middle of the movie we get to know that hero’s nose bleeds “may” be life threatening [Prison Break?] – enticed daughter of inspector is advised to go find love elsewhere by our nose-bleeder with some heavy wordy dialogues (which none of us normal Maharashtrians use in our daily life) – in the meanwhile, just when the train is about to leave the station, you should have asked me to marry you, says the heroine (of course when he did try to ask, she didn’t allow him) – suddenly a guy [Who is called MK – and you will never know why; and BTW – he is some sort of professor] who commits suicide in a train is the hero’s mother’s lover, who, you have just learned that she sacrificed everything for legally sanctioned rape, i.e. marriage. [Topically speaking, very relevant] & [I assure you writing this is not easy] – and then, phew – our hero is dead all his male and female lovers [not homosexual @ men] are back on the stone benches [Flash-forward] where they smoked cigarettes (which I can assure you they did not do it very well, which anyway was ruined by the sub-titled warnings of how harmful smoking is; no mention was made by the surgeon general about how harmful failing in college and betting on enticing daughters of local inspectors is, which, if you ask me, is more detrimental than smoking). Friends getting together for a memory makes sense, but you know what gets to me? What makes me tear up the few remaining hair on my head?
I’ll tell you.
Remember that inspector’s daughter who was a bet? And was eventually let go with some really complex word jumbles? She married another guy, apparently. Here’s the worst part:
That extremely mis-casted meatpack, who ended up being the husband of the better girl – **actually talks** to a stone bench at the end of the movie – thanking our dead nose-bleeding guy, that he let this wager-woman go. So that he could have her. Seriously. If nothing, for this one scene, you *have* to watch this movie.
So, let’s talk about the music. Rather, let’s not. I forwarded (not email, FF-button) most of the songs in the movie – they were in Hindi. The first one was, so I assumed the other’s were too. I fail to understand why we have Hindi songs in Marathi movies. Let me say that again. They were in Hindi. Why? I know the answer. Marathi poetry is dead. The acting was lacklustre, loaded with hamming for equal measure. The story has nothing to offer and mo message is intended. The movie completely fails to entertain and struggles pathetically between attempting to entertain or posting a message. The emotions are hammed, and at the end of it, the movie does one thing with great clarity: It does a dis-service to the audience that has evolved more than the industry has.
Duniyadari, the word, to my mind – is being worldly-wise. There were many worlds I experienced when I was watching this movie; I can assure you there was nothing wise about it.
How much do you value your 2-3 hours? If you really value them; avoid this movie. And if you are really set to watch a Marathi Movie, watch Ashi hi Banva Banvi, instead. It makes no excuses, unlike Duniyadari.
At least you won’t go to bed wondering what it was all about.