Director: Sameer Naik-Dyaneshwar Govekar
Cast: Ramesh Deo, Vaibhav Mangle, Vikas Samudre, Santosh Pawar, Bhalachandra (Bhau) Kadam, Deepak Shirke, Amita Khopkar, Rupali Bhonsle
Please give a big applause to the makers of Chandi. Don’t ask why, just do what I say and only then will I give the reason. They have picked up a popular humourous essay Mhais (Buffalo) written by Maharashtra’s favourite writer Pu La Deshpande or as we dearly call him, PuLa, as the story of their film. Great expectations here! Due to some legal issues, the film became Chandi (the name of the buffalo in the essay). They then picked some good names from the Marathi industry. So far so good to attract the crowds. And now to the main point – what were they thinking? Seriously, did they think that cinematic liberties let them get away with even murder. Keep reading to understand my ire.
In the original essay, PuLa describe his Konkan journey from Ratnagiri to Mumbai in an ST bus. Along with describing his fellow travellers and his amusing observation, he speaks of the chaos which ensues when the bus hits a buffalo. The language, the people, episodes… everything tickles, amuses and cheers you. But the first liberty the directors have taken is of removing PuLa from the post of narrator. The film revolves around a bus hired by local politician named Babasaheb More (Ramesh Deo) to take him and his followers to Mumbai. He is protesting against the removal of grants and support to Marathi medium schools. But those joining him on the ‘protest’ are a runaway couple, a muslim family consisting of the father, daughter and son-in-law, a few hired women protesters, a burqa-clad man smuggling sandalwood and so on. Meanwhile, three people have cheated the bank for taking loan on the same buffalo and now are trying to fool the bank officials arriving in the village. And amidst all this, the accident takes place.
Confused? Try being in my shoes. Too many subplots (most of them unnecessary) have been glued together. If the makers’ wanted to be different, they picked the wrong story as this one is too popular to be accepted with such major changes. Also, these sub-plots humourous strain does not match the original’s. PuLa’s humour sparkled on wordplay, observations, refined humour and it makes you smile, even when on you. But his humour gets buried under the writer’s own brand of crass sense of humour. Also, the film does not end where it is supposed to. The additional track creates more of chaos. When I got out of the theatre, all I knew was that listening to PuLa narrate Mhais would be my oxygen.
About the ratings, the one star goes to Ramesh Deo and Vaibhav Mangale for their attempt to evoke some laughter. While Deo’s politician is earnest and as one expected, Mangale uses his mastery over the local dialect and humour to make us laugh. And the half star is for bringing PuLa before us. See the film to know what I am talking about.
If you have to push the envelope for creative liberties, at least be adept at that skill. But, the makers of Chandi have failed at it. My sympathies!
Photo credit: marathistars.com