The psychologically probing and uniquely textured films of the directing duo of Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukhtankar shone once more as their recent offering Kaasav (‘Turtle’) won the prestigious ‘Golden Lotus’ award at the 64th National Film Awards announced in Delhi on Friday.
Marathi cinema, in general, fared well with the cream of the industry’s offerings being noticed and acknowledged at the awards. Dashakriya won the Best Marathi film award, while Rajesh Mapuskar, who directed Ventilator , was adjudged Best Director.
The announcement is particularly gratifying for Ms. Bhave and Mr. Sukhtankar as it comes on the occasion of World Health Day, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) has selected ‘depression’ as this year’s theme.
The much-acclaimed Kaasav (which is yet to be released) stars Alok Rajawade as Manav, a disturbed, alienated and suicidal boy who is sheltered by a woman Janaki (played by Irawati Harshe) battling loneliness.
The film sensitively and intellectually, sans the gimmicks deployed by mainstream cinema, relays how patience and understanding can bring relief to people battling depression. More importantly, the film brings the malady of depression – an often taboo subject – into sharp relief and compels discussion on it rather than leave it lurking in the shadows.
Ms. Bhave and Mr. Sukhtankar are known for their highly trenchant and penetrating psychological studies delving deep into the troubled recesses of the human mind in films like Astu (2015), starring Dr. Mohan Agashe, that dealt with Alzheimer’s and Devrai (2004), that tackled schizophrenia with a sterling performance by Atul Kulkarni.
Dr. Agashe, who produced Kaasav , observes that the film is a metaphor of a mother turtle which hatches her eggs and leaves before the young ones are born.
The emotional slice-of-life drama Ventilator , produced by Priyanka Chopra (who also has a cameo in the film) bagged a clutch of awards including Best Editing and Best Sound Mixing.
The film, which marks an acting comeback for director-actor Ashutosh Govarikar, is seasoned with satire and laced with heavy doses of black comedy in chronicling two days in the life of the extremely large Kamerkar family, and the shenanigans that ensue when one of the family elders is admitted to the hospital and put on a ventilator.
Veteran actor Manoj Joshi won the Best Supporting Actor award for his role in Dashakriya , while the film also bagged the Best Screenplay award (adapted) for Sanjay Krushnaji Patil.
The film, directed by newcomer Sandip Bhalachandra Patil, stars the great Dilip Prabhavalkar and is a searing indictment of the evils of the caste system which it powerfully portrays through the odyssey of a young boy, Bhanudas.