Armchair Analysis

Is Marathi Cinema coming of age?

Not since the Mahesh Kothare-Laxmikant Berde or Sachin-Ashok Saraf era has Marathi cinema enjoyed as much prominence and popularity as it is currently witnessing.
Remember De Dana Dan or Ashi Hi Banwa Banwi? Classics, no? But think back to most movies made during this time and a common theme emerges: bumbling heroes who find themselves in awkward situations and make their way out of it. Choose a movie and the backdrop may change and the cast may change (a bit) but the overall theme remained the same. Yes, movies like Chaukat Raja and Kalat Nakalat were also made during this era, but these were few and far in between.
Over the last few years, though, this has changed. Marathi cinema was always acknowledged as either being for connoisseurs or for the masses. This, unfortunately, cut out the in-between audience that didn’t enjoy crudeness or art-y movies. Movies such as Natrang or Shwaas or Harishchandrachi Factory were made with entertainment and a message in mind. These movies appealed to a huge audience and the rewards they reaped underlined the fact that the Marathi movie audience was interested in Marathi cinema, but good cinema.
Films dealing with social issues and a message were made with budgets and that improved the appeal it held for the audience. Much credit for this should go to Marathi actors like Atul Kulkarni who were open to playing challenging leading roles in difficult stories. Previously, Ashok Saraf, Laxmikant Berde, Sachin, Nana Patekar, Reema Lagoo and others have always played central characters in Marathi movies, their appeal from their Hindi film presence helped draw audiences.
A notable shift in the past few years has been the vastly enhanced production quality. A look at the recent promotions of Rama-Madhav starring and directed by Mrinal Kulkarni is proof of this. Also, Riteish Deshmukh’s Lai Bhaari put Marathi movie promotion at a different level. Both movies aren’t without substance, mind you, which makes the promotions worthwhile.
The names of actors listed above are just a few. Most Marathi actors successfully toggle TV and cinema and are therefore household names. And their contribution to the recent success is not a small one.
But is this a trend? Or is this the way forward? What the Marathi movie audience is looking for, is production quality at par with Bollywood. Films made in the Southern states have achieved this and in some cases, gone even further. So why not Marathi cinema, especially Mumbai at its heart for technical and commercial purposes?
For younger audiences to be attracted to Marathi cinema, the treatment of movies has to be current. We are exposed to Hollywood and Bollywood and Tollywood and would really like it if Marathi cinema came out of the woods! It’s possible.
So if you are someone who has not been to a Marathi movie, please pick one that’s playing and take a look. And if you’re a homebody, here’s some you can rent or buy and watch (our must-watch list).

  1. Balak Palak (2012)
  2. Natarang (2010)
  3. Saatchya Aat Gharat (2004)
  4. The Damned Rain or Gabhricha Paus (2009)
  5. Harishchandrachi Factory (2009)
  6. Shwaas (2004)
  7. Lai Bhaari (2014)
  8. Rama Madhav (2014)
  9. Mee Shivajiraje Bhosale Boltoy (2009)
  10. Kaksparsh (2012)

This is a list of some of the good movies in the past 10 years or so. There are some good ones running at a theatre near you right now! Go, buy a ticket.