I love Marathi theater but I rarely watch Marathi movies unless strongly recommended by someone whose judgement I trust.Of late,Marathi cinema has been churning out mainly slapstick comedies ,not my idea of fun for sure.I have been delaying it for a long time but Natrang and Harishchandrachi factory were on my wishlist so I ordered both only to be informed that Natrang was not available that day.Late at night,armed with a big bowl of popcorn and a bigger pitcher of lemon iced tea,we settled down to watch HF .And boy,am I glad I watched it?!Endearing,warm,so simple in treatment!
A biopic on Dhundiraj Phalke,the movie was much more than what I expected it to be.It depicts Phalke's journey towards making the first movie of India.The casting of characters was near perfect or so it seemed ,due to the effortless performances by the cast.Having seen a British 'moving image' in a local make shift theater accompanied by his elder son,Phalke becomes obsessed with the idea of producing India's first' moving image'.As always,this 'revolutionary' idea was ridiculed by the society so much so that his loyal friends drug his cup of tea to get him admitted to Thane mental hospital.(Is it that old!!) .Jobless Phalke fuels his idea by selling off his possessions .This scenario mostly in our potboilers is projected as a tearjerker and our so called actors ham through the scenes but not in HF.Here, the super cool wife and kids do not bat an eyelid and even end up joking about it.Particularly funny was this scene where Phalke returns home to see a mourning crowd only to be told that they were mourning the selling off of a family cupboard -(kapaatache gelyaaache kadle ,meaning,we heard that the cupboard is no more).
The film very subtly ,in a flow, highlights the society and its beliefs back then.How movies were looked down upon,how difficult it was to convince women to act in theater and how men were trained to play female characters.The myths and fears attached to trains,the reluctance to shave off the mustache(even while playing a female) and many other things have added to the comic situations in the movie.
I loved Mrs Phalke's character- loving,cool,composed and hardworking.She is an ordinary woman with extraordinary faith in her husband's capabilities.The mood of the movie is upbeat throughout.The passion,obsession and one point agenda of. Phalke along with his image as a family man is very well portrayed.Cookie and Muffin remained glued till the end without any demands of extra food,coffee etc and enjoyed the movie .
The movie will appeal to non Marathi speaking audience too, thanks to the subtitles.Planning to watch it once again.Very few movies do that to me.Simple, pure and delightful is how I will put it in a nutshell.A must watch!