‘Do diwaane shahar me, raat mein yaa dopahar mein, aabodaanaa dhoondhte hai, ek aashiyaanaa dhoondhate hain’ sang Amol Palekar and Zarina Wahab in Gharonda as the couple planing to get married and buy a house of their own in Mumbai.
The song mentioned above also describes the siutation of the protagonists of this movie Amit (Ankush Chaudhary) and Manjiri (Mukta Barve). Mukta and Amit are newly married and are living in a one room kitchen accommodation in Mumbai with Amit’s parents (Vandana Gupte & Vidyadhar Joshi) and his brother. The couple initially try to adjust and live in the crowded confines of the room which has less space and more people vying for it. But one fine day, they take a decision to buy a new flat and start working towards achieving the same. What follows next is their struggle to achieve this amidst all the hurdles and difficulties.
It’s been almost 40 years since the Palekar starrer Gharonda depicted the struggles of finding an accommodation in Mumbai. And over the years, buying a house in the metros has slowly but surely become extremely expensive and in many cases a dream that is impossible to achieve. Though, the film is set for a major portion in the chawls of Mumbai, it is a story every person can relate to. The story of the film shares similarities with the movie Mumbaicha Jawai (remade in Hindi as Piya Ka Ghar) that narrated the story of a newly married couple trying to make sense of the crammed confines of their home and the city of Mumbai. But over the years people have changed and so have their aspirations. And one such aspiring individual is Manjiri. She aspires to do things that may be forbidden or is a not a regular affair to her such as wearing a pair of jeans or going to a salon. And her ultimate aspiration is buying a house – a thing which neither her husband or his family had thought about until she became a part of their family.
The story may not be unique or an entirely fresh one. But the manner in which it unfolds makes it very identifiable. Be it the characters or the situations they find themselves in. It is etched in a very believable way and will remind you of your own selves or people or situations that may seem similar to this. In a story of fighting against odds, the temptation of succumbing to melodrama and using implausible situations to help the characters win is tough to resist. Thankfully, the film largely steers of melodrama and handles the cliches well, barring a scene or two.
Even when the going gets tough or when the couple faces an unexpected roadblock, it is handled in a very believable way. The scene in which Amit realises the bank in which he had an account and was counting upon to secure a loan has been declared insolvent stands out in particular. The scene that follows this incident had ample scope to be a highly cliched and melodramatic one. But the manner in which the family reacts to the situation and Manjiri urges Amit to pick up the pieces and move on is handled efficiently and strikes a chord. For if such a situation were to occur in our lives, we would have dealt with it in the same way.It is due to this strong writing ( Sameer Vidwans, Kshitij Patwardhan) and the temptation to resist melodrama, the movie sails along smoothly and you do end up identifying with the characters and their struggles.
The cinematography by Arjun Sorte and art direction by Siddhartha Tattoskar helps the film to retain its believable tone. Be it the humbly decorated confines of the congested one room kitchen or the passage of the chawl which sees the people gather for their share of daily gossip and fun are well designed and shot. Sorte’s cinematography also captures the chaos of Mumbai very well with the help of the sea shores, local trains and other things which have given the city of Mumbai its unique identity.
Vandana Gupte and Vidyadhar Joshi shine as the humbled minded parents of Ankush Chaudhary. Gupte particularly shines in the scene in which she confides to Barve about how Chaudhary had to give up his aspirations to be a cricketer as they were unable to afford the coaching fees. And so does Vidyadhar Joshi in the scene which he confesses about his inability to buy a bigger home. Sandeep Pathak who plays Chaudhary’s friend and a constable also shines in all the scenes given to him. His character who is taunted by his wife and mother for being honest has its moments. However it could easily have been milked more for there was a subplot that had a good potential. The scene in which he asks Chaudhary about why he has to try hard to convince people that he is not corrupt is remarkable. For it shows, how prejudiced views people have about certain people and the jobs they are engaged in.
Mukta Barve and Ankush Chaudhari share a terrific chemistry. Be it the initial moments which are playful or the ones in which they have private conversations through sms’es or are trying to get a moment of privacy or their struggle to realise their dream of buying a home,their camaraderie makes the proceedings even more enjoyable. Though her enthusiasm seems a bit overbearing at times, Barve delivers a very good performance. As the simple minded yet determined individual hell bent on achieving his goal, Ankush Chaudhary is very convincing and gives his best performance till date.
Of late the number of genuinely good films being made in Marathi has gone down. In such a time, director Sameer Vidwans’ Double Seat with its fresh take on the struggles of the middle class can easily be counted as one of the better Marathi films in recent times. Do make a trip to the theatre, it will be worth your time.