10 Path-Breaking Marathi Films of this Decade (So Far)!

We all must be aware that in terms of filmmaking, ‘Path-Breaking’ is an adjective used for films which in a way opens up a different genre/style/theme or redefines a previously known genre/style/theme. In case of Marathi cinema, ‘Path-Breaking’ could be a title used to honor films that broke the mould of conventional ‘Marathi’ genres/styles/themes & while doing so also succeeded in overall aspects, expected from a good film. Comedy & family drama have always been the most conventional genre in Marathi, not to forget ‘melodrama’! There are people who have recently recognized Marathi cinema & have also coined the term ‘The Marathi New Wave’ which includes any random popular Marathi film (like Natsamrat or Katyar..) of recent times. Is the ‘Wave’ really there? Even if it’s there, is it even averagely substantial? Well, let’s examine it!

Note: ‘This Decade (So Far)’ stands for 2010-2016.

 

  1. GAJAR (2011), Dir: Ajit Bhairavkar

    Gajaar - DVD Inlay

    Gajaar – DVD Inlay

To be frank the first entry in our list is a little too ambitious on concept level. But ‘Gajar’ still succeeded in infusing us into the spiritual world of ‘Waari’. The story revolves around a young filmmaker who wishes to make a path-breaking documentary film on this complex pilgrimage event by exploring the 18 chapters of ‘Dnyaneshwari’ (a religious text) through the lives & struggles of the ‘Waarkaris’ who participate in ‘Waari’ every year.

Why is it Path-Breaking?
The film is actually shot during the ‘Waari’. To someone aware of this ridiculous phenomenon it’s a maverick effort! Cinematographer Amol Gole, who also essayed the same role of shooting the documentary within the film, deserves most of the credit for making the film what it is! Secondly not many times (almost none) in Marathi before have we seen a film about a film!

 

  1. KHWADA (2015), Dir: Bhaurao Karhadekhwada

‘Khwada’ has a raw energy to it. It’s a brutally potent realistic portray of rural life in India. A shepherd family that traditionally keeps shifting their habitant faces obstacles from the powerful upper class in a village. The film is too personal to the director & that reflects through countless scenes involving the lead.

Why is it Path-Breaking?
Even though the basic plotline is quite traditional in the context of Marathi films, the treatment by Bhaurao is completely anti-traditional. Nothing seems dramatized or artificial. Bhaurao is not a typical sophisticated avant-garde filmmaker in any way but he is still in complete command of his medium & its peak can be experienced in an unforgettable climax! ‘Khwada’ is that deeply rooted rural ‘Marathi’ film which our audiences deserved for ages!

 

  1. REGE (2013), Dir: Abhijit Panserege-poster

It’s difficult to decide whether Abhijit Panse is a politician turned filmmaker or a filmmaker turned politician! However one thing’s for sure, his complex background from these two fields resulted into the first proper ‘crime’ neo-noir film in Marathi! A MBBS student from a wealthy, respected family gets caught in between a conflict of encounter specialist cops & gangsters!

Why is it Path-Breaking?
First of all ‘Rege’ is technically sublime, Mahesh Limaye’s camera work deserves credit! Non-Linear editing made so much sense in this film & well we don’t have any other example in Marathi that used this trick so well! The Cops; are the prominent reason for making this film essentially path-breaking! We fear the cops much more than the gangsters & yet they aren’t typical villains. It appears as if, they are just strolling through their daily routine!

 

  1. SAMHITA (2013), Dir: Sumitra Bhave & Sunil Sukthankarsamhita-poster

We are talking about path-breaking cinema of recent times, so a Bhave-Sukthankar film is almost a by default entry in the list because they’ve been walking through an altogether different path from a long time with astonishing consistency. ‘Samhita’ is their most accomplished (craft wise) & complex piece of art. A Filmmaker is working on her ‘Samhita’ based on a forgotten novel. The device is obviously inspired by Charlie Kauffman’s ‘Adaptation’ but ‘Samhita’ lingers on altogether different aspects of human relationships & never tries satirizing any of it!

Why is it Path-Breaking?
The parallels drawn between the film & the director’s personal life set up the actual conflict of the film. The film works beautifully as a period love story & as a day-to-day journey of a strong independent woman in today’s times. This is the major reason for its selection! Two stories that are distinctly different from an outsider’s view but so inter-connected when you actually get lost in this film! There are subtle remarks on the concept of ‘adultery’ & the male dominated society without being loudly feminist!

 

  1. SHALA (2012), Dir: Sujay Dahakeshala-poster

Sujay Dahake’s adaptation of Milind Bokil’s Novel ‘Shala’ is one of the most important milestones in recent times for Marathi cinema. Joshya, the protagonist is a middle class boy living in a comparatively peaceful atmosphere of a small town, in the midst of national emergency in the country. The emergency is used as metaphor throughout to put-forth the real theme of this film & i.e. the hampering of ‘freedom of expression’!

Why is it Path-Breaking?
Post ‘Shala’ Marathi filmmakers started taking adolescent characters seriously! A new genre of adolescent love stories emerged in Marathi only because of ‘Shala’. Even Bollywood is yet to take them seriously, the characters that represent the most important phase of human life cycle!

 

  1. FANDRY (2013), Dir: Nagraj Manjulefandry

So another adolescent love story? No, ‘Fandry’ is much more than just a love story. ‘Fandry’ is a tale of an entire clan of humans, the ‘have-nots’ & their powerless struggle to ‘dream’. Even a ‘dream’ is so much more to ask. The film was promoted extensively as a romantic film & went on to disappoint the conventional audience. However, there were small sparks from many ‘have-nots’ who felt they’re finally being represented on the silver screen!

Why is it Path-Breaking?
Nagraj Manjule was stern enough to hold a mirror to this so called idealistic modern society, which still works on age old social differences. None of the Marathi films before were bold enough to portray this stark reality. And more than anything else ‘Fandry’ gave us Nagraj, a filmmaker with an exemplary command over a medium which has been traditionally dominated by the upper class of our society.

 

  1. HIGHWAY (2015), Dir: Umesh Vinayak Kulkarnihighway

Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni has a cult following, he is without a doubt the most serious filmmaker in Marathi. Alongside writer-actor Girish Kulkarni, Umesh gave us four strikingly original cinematic wonders; ‘Valu’, ‘Vihir’, ‘Deool’ & ‘Highway’. ‘Valu’ & ‘Deool’ are sharp satires whereas ‘Vihir’ & ‘Highway’ are more philosophically inclined. In ‘Highway’, a simple journey from Mumbai to Pune symbolizes the journey of our lives.

Why is it Path-Breaking?
The lack of ‘story’! Yes it’s so pleasingly reassuring that even Marathi films can give away the age old concept of having a well-rounded story. The first half introduces us to the countless protagonists; all traveling on the highway in different vehicles. The second half manipulatively creates a scenario where these travellers come out of their ‘vehicles’ & connect with each other! They are anyways destined to reach the exact same destination eventually, so the scenario works as a simplistically magical halt, where for a while no one’s in any sort of hurry.

 

  1. KAUL (2016), Dir: Aadish Keluskarkaul

Ok, now we have a truly daring, genuinely path-breaking Marathi film. ‘Kaul’ challenges our definition of cinema & overall audio-visual interpretation. Aadish Keluskar is a true find, & we want him to keep making films! An already unstable School teacher who gets transferred to a little village in ‘Konkan’ experiences few supernatural incidents that shatter his sense of morality & the whole purpose of being!

Why is it Path-Breaking?
We have certain expectations of audio & video that combines together & helps us form a certain ‘meaning’ of the situation. But ‘Kaul’ challenges this basic rule. The most path-breaking aspect here is this rare ambiguous amalgamation of audio & video. Sometimes we do come up with our own meanings & sometimes we don’t! But the fun fact is that ‘Kaul’ is not a secret code waiting to be cracked, it should simply be experienced. The sound mixing & recording of ‘Kaul’ is one mighty achievement it its own!

 

  1. SAIRAT (2016), Dir: Nagraj Manjulesairat-poster

Yes I have included the biggest Marathi Blockbuster in a list about ‘path-breaking’ cinema. The success of ‘Sairat’ made positive as well negative impact on the overall economy of Marathi films. People were not ready to accept any other Marathi film post ‘Sairat’ for more than 2-3 months & that in today’s times is a huge period for a film to remain a blockbuster.

Why is it Path-Breaking?
Sairat did something exceptionally ‘out of the box’. It combined the elements of commercial filmmaking & realism. The first half was crowd pleasing, while the second boring to many. The second half shattered the ‘filmy’ world from the first half made with sparkling crystals of romanticism. But remember those were the brightest sparkling crystals we ever saw in Indian cinema! The over talked about climax was not surprising, but still mighty effective & the best we could ask for. In the end ‘Sairat’ only carry forwarded Nagraj’s angst against the ridiculous social scenario that is here to stay in our beloved state & country.           

 

  1. COURT (2014) Dir: Chaitanya Tamhanecourt

Many a times I have hesitated to consider ‘Court’, a Marathi film. It has say 50-60 % of its dialogues in Marathi, 3 of the four main characters are Maharashtrians & well it had two Marathi songs by Sambhaji Bhagat. I always felt since the director, producer & the rest of the team isn’t really from the ‘Industry’, why should we consider ‘Court’ a film belonging to this industry? The answer is we shouldn’t care! Because the world it resembles, ridicules & even feel pity for belongs completely to us!

Why is it Path-Breaking?
If you’ve seen the film I don’t think you need a justification. But still, I would put-forth simply one aspect about the film. It would be impossible to find another film from any corner of the world which is about a ‘Court’ but not a courtroom drama. Court is a film that caught the system having a nice afternoon nap while it is casually killing the whole process tree related to freedom of expression & blah blah blah through their default settings.

 

Note: There are films like ‘Tukaram’, ‘Elizabeth Ekadashi’, ‘Investment’ & few more which are also important films made in this decade but can’t really be called ‘path-breaking’.

– Abhay Salvi

3 thoughts on “10 Path-Breaking Marathi Films of this Decade (So Far)!

  1. Rege i loved for one reason, that is just for treatment how to present an age-old story in a new way. The court was not original for me, had European influences which were obvious to me. I will add Sujay’s other film Ajooba to the list.

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