Yellow, directed by Mahesh Limaye, came out last week. After watching the film, I had an epiphany about two things. One, that Marathi cinema is on a roll with a peachy streak of films (read Fandry). And two, in India we make a flummoxing number of films with disabled characters. With the increasing number of such films, filmmakers are trying to approach them with calculated nuances and fresh fervor. Yellow is one such example, which cuts the tirades and manipulations, just tells a story instead, taking good care of the mainstream space it wants to dive in. Produced by Riteish Deshmukh and Uttung Thakur, Yellow gets the required unswerving support for it to look good and reach out to a large audience. Deshmukh, whose recent slate of stillborn films is doing a fairly good job as a Marathi producer, following up with this one after Balak Palak.
Yellow is the real story of Gauri Gadgil. For this 16-year-old suffering from down’s syndrome, swimming helps her transform her personality. Not just that, it also brings a ray of hope in her life. In 2007, she bagged a silver medal in the 25-metre butterfly stroke at the Special Olympics Summer Games held in Beijing, China. The best part about the film is that Gauri herself plays the role in the film. While many parts of her journey are retained in the film, some others have been fictionalized to provide a surefire blend in Yellow. It is also the journey of a mother-daughter relationship, as the mother (Mrinal Kulkarni) comes to terms with her daughter’s disability and allows her to create her own space. Then, it is also the journey of a teacher-pupil relationship, as the teacher learns to make friends with his differently abled pupil. The film’s title carries a strong subtext which is revealed in the climax of the film. While Yellow eschews a lot of emotional manipulation that would hang like a dagger upon such a script, it does succumb to over-simplification at times. Gauri’s dad has a subplot which looks under-cooked and bereft of any proper vision, and he ludicrously comes back in the climax seemingly regretful of his wrong doings. While Gauri and her mother’s relationship with her coach, Pratap (Upendra Limaye) is fleshed out well, Pratap himself comes out as an uninteresting one-dimensional character. There are a few other holes but they do not affect the central situation a lot, in a largely heartwarming picture.
As said earlier, Yellow benefits from a relaxed budget which allow for good production values. There aren’t many songs and Mahesh Limaye himself handles the camera. Yellow is a motivational film written it in its most simple form, with high octane sensitivity. The dialogues may sound hammy at times but the performances make up for that. Gauri Gadgil is rather dainty, and does very well in a fictional version of her own life. Her shtick for swimming makes her very comfortable in most of the swimming sequences. Mrinal Kulkarni is saddled with a very cliched character but somehow manages to walk the thin line, avoiding the hammy mess for most parts. Both Hrishikesh Joshi and Upendra Limaye are rather loud at times, but do decently well. Manoj Joshi is under-utilized.
Yellow is a movie in a mainstream space.and it does quite well to provide an expecting audience the custom tropes of this kind of cinema, without getting sappy and unctuous. It may not be a perfect film, but it is a must watch for an adorable lead performance and an inspiring true story that must be told. It pulls the right strings in your hearts and pioneers the soaring flag of Marathi cinema. Go feel happy!
Rating – 3/5