Marathi takes centrestage

The recently concluded film festival in Goa screened two hidden gems about inner beauty and social equality

For more than a decade, the smallest state in the country has been home to the Goa Marathi Film Festival. As this year’s monsoons commenced, so did the twelfth edition, that took place last month in Panaji. For Goans, this festival is a rare chance to experience Marathi cinema which may not release in nearby cinemas. The festival prides itself on introducing quality Marathi films that are critically acclaimed, commercially successful and award winning. Privately organised by Goa-based Vinsan World, the festival draws around 1,000 delegates every year, some of whom come from Maharashtra’s neighbouring towns. Unfortunately, this year, the response was lower compared to the last 11 editions. Dnyanesh Moghe, the main organiser of the festival stated, “It could be because of heavy rains on weekends [and] the world cup match on Sunday.” But still, theatres were mostly almost full.

This edition of the festival screened 18 feature films and three short films. Moghe explained that all these years, they’ve never had any particular theme, but the emphasis has always been on new Marathi films. “Many filmmakers like Umesh Kulkarni and film critics suggest [which] new movies [should be screened] and we make it a point to showcase those,” said Moghe. “We have a mix of commercial and critically acclaimed movies.”

Colour and equality

A particular highlight of this edition was Imago, by debutant filmmakers from Kolhapur: Karan Chavan and Vikram Patil. It’s about the story of Namrata (Aishwarya Ghaidhar) who has vitiligo, a skin condition. The movie explores the internal journey of a girl who is dealing with concepts of beauty, love, and acceptance. Chavan, once a student of fine art, has always explored the idea of beauty. “We [wanted] to make something related to the idea of beauty, because in our society how we define it is very limited,” said Chavan. “It is not just being fair or having a pretty face. For us, a person having vitiligo is prettier and I believe that while watching this film, Namrata’s character will make one believe that.” He added that it was imperative they cast someone who battles the ailment in real life. “[Only someone] who has experienced low self-confidence due to vitiligo will able to do justice to [the role],” said Chavan who, in the next six months, is planning to release Imago commercially and on streaming platforms.

Another film that stood out was Mhorkya (Leader), written and directed by Amar Bharat Deokar. It won the Best Children’s Film Award at the 65th National Film Awards last year along with two Special Mention awards to the main actors of the film, Raman Devkar, Yasharaj Karhade. Based in rural Maharashtra, the film is about a teenage shepherd Ashok (Raman Devkar) who gets a chance to lead the Republic Day parade practice session. The coming-of-age feature strongly comments on equality in society and whether there is any room for hard work and merit. Deokar said he was inspired by a school parade which was lead by a student who was totally unfit for the job. “At that point, I realised that if a herd is lead by a tiger then even goats can become tigers and vice-versa. And what if that leader is a shepherd? And I wanted to play with the concept of ‘herd mentality’,” said Deokar who adds that winning a National Award has not helped beyond garnering appreciation. The filmmaker is still struggling to theatrically release Mhorkya. “Even at this screening of the Festival, many people walked out. This shows that we need to be cinema literate first,” stated Deokar who is planning to release the film in November later this year.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 10:02:25 PM |

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