Movie Review: Popat
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a film on AIDS but with a name which might lead you to think otherwise. Normally, you either like parrots or feel like throttling them when they try to imitate humans. In this film, a popat actually stands for something else and you end up loving this creature. Satish Rajwade’s attempt on a serious topic based in a rural set-up is just what the doctors ordered, for him and us too. It is an attempt worth an applause as an interesting film on a topic which probably gets stuck in docu-drama mode and is directed by someone who is known for making urban dramas.
Director: Satish Rajwade
Actors: Atul Kulkarni, Amey Wagh, Siddharth Menon, Ketan Pawar, Anita Date, Neha Shitole
Based in a village in Kolhapur, meet three friends who have different ambitions, behaviours and outlook. Raghya (Amey Wagh) works as an extra in films but his friends think he is the next superstar. Balya (Siddharth Menon) is the guy who has his fingers in all pies (read business). The last is the only literate fellow amongst them Mukya (Ketan Pawar) who wants to study and write. The village has an AIDS awareness drive being conducted called Popat and as a part of that drive, the three join in to speak to the villagers about this ‘International disease’ and distribute condoms. Some hits (literally) and loads of misses, a disaster at a shoot makes them decide that they are capable of making a film together. Mukya comes up with a plan to make a film on AIDS. All they need is a camera. In comes Janyabhau (Atul Kulkarni), a wedding photographer/videographer whose work is somewhat hilarious. Though his wife Preeti (Anita Date) is pregnant, he also has an affair with a lavani dancer, Rakhi. And while shooting the ‘film’ (film within a film, 2nd step of filmception), Janya starts getting doubts, as the film’s protagonist life is similar to his own – a pregnant wife, an extra-marital affair and the revelation that his mistress is AIDS-afflicted.
Kudos to Rajwade for making a serious yet not-so-serious film on something as serious as AIDS. Seriously! The method used is unconventional, funny and allows the message to reach the masses. Rajwade, also the film’s writer, elegantly lifts the topic and puts the whole story and theme into your head in such a fashion that you will not be aware till you get out of the theatre and realise you did not know a whole lot about AIDS. The dialogues are quite funny where they are meant to be. While overall the film keeps you engaged, a few are outright rip-roaring, like the time Balya and Mukya have the time of their life in the heroine’s vanity van when they come to watch Raghya’s shoot. Or when Janya and Raghya are trying to find their heroine and go throughout the village to find her. Another of the crazy scenes is when the three sign up to distribute condoms in the village.
I was a bit unsure of how Atul Kulkarni would be teaming up with three youngsters. But Kulkarni creates a Janyabhau who is the centre of our pity, anger and laughter. The pity is due to the fact that he might be affected by AIDS and has passed it to his pregnant wife. You are also angry at him due to this. Watch out for the scene where he breaks down and tries to go away from a film which is a mirror of what is happening in his life. It is wonderful to see Amey Wagh as Raghya and Siddharth Menon as Balya playing the roles of village youngsters with stars in their eyes, with such ease. It is Ketan Pawar who steals the show as Mukya though. He is an intelligent fellow but fails to pass his exams and probably understands things much better than others. Anita Date as Janya’s wife and Neha Shitole as Balya’s girlfriend and the ‘film’s heroine’ are perfect.
Three wonderful songs come at the right time in the film. I was happily watching the film thanks to some good camerawork and editing. The only thing which probably irritates you is a slightly drawn second half and a filmy end. But we might forgive Rajwade for this, in return of a film which can be a called a good mix of entertainment and message.
With talks of Rs. 100-200 crore earning Hindi films and Marathi films like Duniyadaari doing well at the box-office, it is also extremely important that a film like ‘Popat’ comes around. I had attended a houseful show and one could hear a thoroughly happy crowd enjoying the film. For once, amcha popat nahin jhala! Do give it a watch Punekars, it’s worth it.