Marathi cinema flies high with 'Sairat'

Filmmaker Nagraj Manjule’s romantic-drama has collected a whopping Rs. 65 crore in the three weeks since its release.

Updated - October 18, 2016 03:09 pm IST

Published - May 23, 2016 01:27 pm IST - Mumbai

With Sairat garnering not only favourable reviews but healthy box office collections, Marathi cinema yet again seems to have found a fine balance between winning appreciation and registering money.

Filmmaker Nagraj Manjule’s romantic-drama has collected a whopping Rs. 65 crore in the three weeks since its release — and the movie achieved this without an A-list star, a franchise, or a holiday release date. The running time of the film, which stars newcomers Rinku Rajguru and Akash Thosar, is nearly three hours, with the first half running for almost two hours.

Manjule tells a heartbreaking real love story set against the backdrop of caste differences. He refuses to surrender to the conventional tropes of filmmaking as even as the film rolls out an unconventional, shocking climax. The film’s success seems to signify that the audience has begun preferring movies that turn the stereotypes around rather than watch a film that refuses to respect their sensibilities.

Second blockbuster of this year

Sairat is the second blockbuster for Marathi film industry this year after Nana Patekar’s smashing hit, Natsamrat .

Directed by Mahesh Manjrekar, Natsamrat chronicled the story of a retired actor and his wife who fall on hard times after their children’s ingratitude leaves them without anything.

The film, which released on January 1 this year, went on to win immense critical acclaim and clocked solid collections at the box office — estimated at Rs. 48 crore.

Slew of hits

With Natsamrat and Sairat , the Marathi film industry now has as many as six super hit movies within a span of a year.

Prior to the Nana Patekar-starrer, the industry saw Katyar Kaljat Ghusali which released during Diwali last year. The film, starring Sachin Pilgaonkar, and Shankar Mahadevan, took the box office by storm despite facing stiff competition from Salman Khan’s Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and another Marathi film Mumbai Pune Mumbai 2 .

The Subodh Bhave-directed film clocked over Rs. 40 crore at the box office apart from garnering solid reviews across India.

Incidentally, Mumbai-Pune-Mumbai 2 , sequel to the 2010 film starring Swapnil Joshi, also went on to become a hit despite clashing with Katyar...

Two more films, which find a mention for chalking it up in both box office and critical acclaim are Timepass 2 and Classmates , both released in 2015. Director Ravi Jadhav struck gold again with the highly popular sequel of his super hit Timepass .

The comedy-drama Timepass 2 not only earned rave reviews but also proved to be a success at the box office, while Classmates also went on to achieve the super hit tag.

New wave

Marathi cinema, over the years, has had several films which were significant in creating a new wave in industry, from Shwas in 2004, to Harishchandrachi Factory and Natarang in 2009.

Even films like Vihir , Deool , Manjule’s debut Fandry , Killa , or Court , India’s selection to the 88th Academy Awards in the foreign language film category, which could not do well at the box office but got critical acclaim, have given a new direction to Marathi movies.

Bollywood calling

This new direction seems to be paving the way for Bollywood biggies to invest in Marathi cinema.

Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali is all set to release his first Marathi film as a producer, Laal Ishq, while actor Vidya Balan has a guest appearance in Ekk Albela .

It would be interesting to see how much these films can benefit from an audience looking for intelligently-made films.

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