In our lives, often comes a point when we get stuck in a routine and live our lives mechanically without ever thinking about the monotony or the how’s and why’s of it. Soon our lives become dull and dreary and are no different from the others who end up becoming a part of the herd.
While we are young, we often avow to not get stuck into the routine like several others. But soon we end up doing exactly the same. Like many others, we too end up slaving off at work, meeting our financial responsibilities and post marriage, fulfilling commitments towards our wife and kids. Often in this quest of satisfying several personal and professional commitments, we tend to forego our personal desires, aspirations and sadly by the time the realisation dawns upon us, it is too late. Some of us are fortunate to realise this and get a chance to sort things out and start our life afresh.
The film YZ tells the story of one such individual who faces a mid life crisis and ends up rediscovering himself in the process. Gajanan (Sagar Deshmukh) is a 33 year old professor born and brought up in Wai who leads a dull existence. Gajanan has been single for a long time and desires to get married, but given his timid and introvert nature and a not so fancy salary, he hardly sees women or people otherwise warming up to him. He is then transferred to a college in Pune where he meets Battees (Akshay Tanskale) a 20 something student and the cool dude of the college. How this encounter with Battees changes Gajanan’s life forever forms the crux of the film.
The first half of YZ is testament to the fact that how some well written scenes and dialogues can hold the audience’s attention in the absence of a really cohesive storyline. Yes the film begins with Gajanan’s voiceover introducing us to his monotonous life, which includes some hilarious encounters he has at the public matchmaking conventions which sees him announcing his financial and personal details on stage to the public. It also introduces us to Battees – the youngster who will be the catalyst of change in Gajanan’s life. The latter’s initial awkward encounters with Battees are funny and are helped by the camaraderie the actors share with each other. It also shows how Gajanan is trying to get adjusted to his new life in Pune and his relatives which include his cousin who isn’t particularly fond of him.
Gajanan can also be perceived as the male counterpart of Rani – Kangana Ranaut’s character from Queen, both lead a listless life and are often taken for granted before realisation dawns upon them. In Queen the realisation dawns from something as dramatic her marriage being cancelled, while in Gajanan’s case, the realisation of being stuck in a rut, loneliness and a chance encounter with a stranger propels this change. The film also sees Battees trying to teach Gajanan tricks to impress women and as the film nears intermission we are introduced to Parnarekha (Sai Tamhankar), the first potential love interest of Gajanan. It is interesting to note how Gajanan finds a new vigour in his life post his encounter with Battees and leads him to deeming Parnarekha boring as she in a way reminds him of his earlier life, which he is perennially trying to escape from. Casting Tamhankar against type as the reticent, god fearing woman who sticks to the traditional ways was a good idea. For one does not often get to see her in such a role. The filmmakers infuse her scenes and character with the right amount of humour, warmth and dignity. When one thinks that the character is heading towards being a caricature of sorts, it provides an important twist to the tale.
The film later also introduces us to newer characters including Antara (Parna Pethe) – the friend of Gajanan’s cousin who takes a liking to him and Saylee (Mukta Barve) – his long lost childhood love. With the introduction of the new women in Gajanan’s life, the focus now shifts on to whom he will finally settle down with.
But with the introduction of these new characters, one cannot shrug of the feeling that some of these characters such as that of Gajanan’s cousin could have been better dealt with and also Antara who could have been given more screen time . A few songs in the film such as the imaginary duet between Gajanan and Antara also serve no purpose and make the viewers restless. Though the songs which plays during the opening credit (which is aided by some wonderful cartoons reminiscent of those of P.L Deshpande and R.K Laxman) and the end credits are hummable. Also with Battees referring to Selfies as Kulfies, it seems that the makers are trying too hard to appease to youngsters. But these are just minor aberrations in an otherwise well made and engaging film. And just when you are led to believe that the film is headed for a conventional ending, it pulls out its biggest surprise.
Sagar Deshmukh who was earlier seen in Hunterr as Gulshan Devaiah’s cousin Yusuf a.k.a Dilip performs his part with utmost believability and makes you root for him as he embarks on the journey of a lifetime. He also seems to have a knack for mimicry, which is why the film sees him mimicking yesteryear actors Prithiviraj Kapoor and Ajit, though it seems unwanted, it still manages to bring a smile to your face. Akshay Tanksale is equally good as the extrovert Battees who has his own interesting philosophies on life. Tanksale and Deshmukh share a great chemistry and help the film to sail through effortlessly which is aided by some sharp and well written dialogues. The rest of the actors which includes Mukta Barve and Parna Pethe also perform well.
Director Kshitij Patwardhan and writer Sameer Vidwans deserve praise for tackling a theme, which though conventional is not often explored in Marathi cinema. They also deserve a few more brownie points for not opting for a conventional ending (at least by norms of mainstream Indian cinema) though they had an opportunity to do the same.
In a year that has seen very few noteworthy Marathi films being churned, it is heartening to see a film like YZ being well received as the year gears up to a close. Kshitij Patwardhan and Sameer Vidwans made quite an impression with last year’s Double Seat and with YZ they reaffirm their presence as one of the more interesting talents in Marathi cinema. One hopes their subsequent films will keep this promise alive.