Kaksparsh is easily one of the most promoted Marathi films in recent times. Zee Talkies having taken up the distribution have gone all out in securing the film a good release in cinema halls as well. The film has entered the 3rd week and still the shows are running housefull which is certainly a rarity for a marathi movie. Though it is heartening to see a marathi film getting such publicity what it also does is half convince the people about the film even before watching it.
I have had a rather hectic last half a month or so which has actually helped me keep a little distance from the heavy publicity and thus maintain my objectivity. And I feel that the film is definitely not as good as its makers are proclaiming it to be or even the general consensus amongst the people tells you.
Kaksparsh is a period film set in the 1930s-1950s Konkan Mahrashtra. Haridada, the patriarch of a Brahmin family, is like a father to his kid brother Mahadev. He decides to get Mahadev married off to a very young Durga who is later renamed by Mahadev as Uma. But tragedy strikes as Mahadev dies even before consummating their marriage.
According to Hindu rituals, as a part of last rites a bowl of rice and sesame seeds is offered to a crow which is supposed to represent the deceased soul. The soul of the departed is only supposed to receive ‘mukti’ when the crow actually eats out from food the offered. During Mahadev’s last rites, as no crow seems to be willing to touch or eat the food offered, Haridada murmurs something and a crow does finally oblige. We come to know what Haridada actually murmured only towards the end in the film.
As per the custom prevalent in Pre-Independence days a widow is supposed to shave off her hair. But Haridada objects to Uma’s hair being shaven off without giving an explanation of this decision of his, much to the disappointment and anger of the society at large. He then over a period of time keeps taking decisions with respect to the widowed Uma which keeps baffling his family and makes everybody and even the audience believe(rather misleadingly) that he has developed feelings for the young Uma.
The plot surely is interesting but then the director Mahesh Manjrekar or even the scriptwriter Girish Joshi doesn’t deserve credit for it as the film is an adaptation of the book by the same name written by Usha Datar. Rather an opportunity to make a truly memorable film has been wasted.
The biggest issue with the film, especially the first half, is that it feels rushed. The film is like a saga across generations unfolding on the screen. However, such tales work only when they take their own sweet time to develop the plot and its characters. Mahesh Manjrekar, here, seems to be a lot worried about the attention span of his audience and swiftly proceeds forward from one scene to another. Also, at times it feels as if the movie has been re-edited to fit into the 2 hour bracket just to suit the need of the multiplexes and other exhibitors.
Girish Joshi’s script narrates the film in flashbacks which don’t always seem smooth. It also has a tendency to spoon feed the audience. The character played by Vaibhav Mangale as the Upadhyay of the village is almost a caricature.
What works in the favor of the film is primarily the pre-independence Konkan set-up. Ajit Reddy’s camerawork deserves major credit for it. The costumes, the language all are quite authentic and you do feel transported to a bygone era. Another major plus of the film is the performances. Sachin Khedekar as the patriarch of the family is simply brilliant. So is Megha Manjrekar who plays his wife. Others like Savita Malpekar who plays the bitter old widow(Namu Attya) and Haridada’s friend Balwant played Sanjay Khapare are also impressive. But Ketaki Mategaonkar, who is steadily developing a fan following, isn’t that convincing as the very young bride turned widow. Also, there are some interesting things that you learn from the film like in those times marriage was supposed to be consummated only on an auspicious occasion.
The film also does have a few memorable scenes like the one where the old widow Namu Attya tries to make Uma understand how fortunate she is as Haridada treats her in a much better manner than what widows in those times were normally subjected to. Another striking scene is that of Uma, a widow completely deprived of any sexual pleasure, secretly enjoying the sound of Haridada’s newly married son Sankarshan and his wife making love to each other.
Though the above points make the film worth a watch the cons of the film surely outweigh the pros. For me personally the wasted potential is what majorly makes the film a dampener. The film has enough material to blow you away but the makers are content with scratching the surface. Now, another project which Zee Talkies is associated with after Natrang will be added to my list of the most overrated marathi films of recent times.