Mhais: A ride worth taking
Director: Shekhar Naik
Music: Anand Modak
Actors: Jitendra Joshi, Sanjay Mone, Yateen Karyekar, Satish Alekar, Kamlesh Sawant, Usha Nadkarni, Jayant Sawarkar, Suhas Palshikar, Pramod Pawar, Jagganath Nivangune, Sameer Patil, Anshuman Joshi, Ramesh Medekar, Pravin Tarde
I confess that my previous attempt in watching a film on Mhais made me want to sob really hard. In an attempt to save myself, I bought tickets to ‘Mhais’, another attempt on Pu La Deshpande’s now legendary essay. A scared me entered the theatre. Guess what? I came out with a smile; a smile attached to nostalgia and the ‘those were the days’ memories.
To repeat the story, it revolves around the author travelling from Ratnagiri to Mumbai and the experience he has when the bus hits a stray buffalo. While travelling, he entertains you talking about his fellow travellers, the typical Konkan bus journey and ensuing episodes after the bus meets with the said accident. Set in pre-independence India, the whole story easily transports you to the era. Only if you understand Marathi and local culture will you know how truly fascinating Pu La was. His writing is both literary and yet popular. Unlike PG Wodehouse (Pu La is often called Wodehouse of Marathi literature), his writings never conformed to class but to the junta in general.
Enough said about a person to whom the whole of Maharashtra is attached to, the film succeeds majorly on one point – it sticks to the original story. Right from the era to the storyline and dialogues, nothing sticks out like a sour thumb. The minor deflections are quite enjoyable. All the characters, right from the I-know-everything school teacher, two typically extra smart specimens from Ratnagiri’s Madhli Aali (middle alley) to the Muslim family travelling to see the son-in-law off, remain as they are and lovable. You laugh with the characters and at them too. Director Shekhar Nayeek makes a commendable effort to keep the spirit of the original intact. Technically too, the cinematography, music and editing is creditable. A special mention must be given to the art director for bringing an authentic flavour in terms of locations and the way you see the items around.
I was apprehensive of how the actors would portray the beloved characters. To Nayeek’s credit, he has picked some fabulous actors to play them. Joshi as Pu La is a decent choice, though we would have also loved Nikhil Ratnaparkhi or Anand Ingle in his role. The over-smart-yet-quite-stupid school teacher is effortlessly portrayed by Satish Alekar. He is the ‘Mr Dependable’ of Marathi films. Rest of the cast, right from Sanjay Mone’s pan-spitting and bored elderly, Sameer Patil as the Homeopathy doctor to Pramod Pawar as the simple politician and Anshuman Joshi as the know-it-all college student, get their parts correct. A special mention for Pravin Tarde who plays the bus driver. Right from his dialogues to his acting, he provides a touch of amusement.
As a feel-good movie, Mhais is just what the doctor needed. Hardly lengthy, have fun watching it!