Pitu - who watches a lot of hat-ke movies - reviews the 2005 Marathi comedy which features the directorial debut of Sai Paranjpe's son, Gautam Joglekar
Picture this: a lejhim-wielding, chanting crowd winds its way through the dusty roads of a gaon. They are singing the questionable praises of a certain 'Bhootiya'. A half-crazed man comes screaming out of the woods and the chanting crowd flees in terror. Such are the opening frames of this brilliantly crafted film that blends the lines between reality and illusion. The basic concept of this modern fairy-tale was charted by Sai Paranjape, the director who gave us the sublime Katha.
Like Katha, Pak Pak Pakaak (A rooster's crow) welcomes us into a small world peopled by the most extraordinary and yet believable characters. Whether it is Nana Patekar as the brilliant Bhootiya or Saksham Kulkarni as the Dennis-the-menace type brat Chikhloo (which literally means muddy), these are people we grow to love.
The direction by Gautam Joglekar (Paranjape's son and the actor you may remember from the film Prahaar) is top-notch. The pace never flags, the dialogs are memorable and the narrative is part comedy, part social commentary.
At the end of the movie, my husband and I kept mumbling to each other "Jeevan sundar ahe. Mi ajun sundar banivnar!" (Life is beautiful, I'll make it even more beautiful) or the hilarious "Mothi mansa aaplyala tyaaras dyetat, mhanun apan bi tyana tyaaras dyeto" (Older folks trouble us, so we do the same)
Not a single note in this movie was off-key. The costumes were authentic, the songs enjoyable and the dances were fun! The supporting cast did a wonderful job. I was amazed by Narayani Shastri. Her entire demeanor and dialog delivery was so on point, I couldn't imagine anyone else playing the character of Salu. (In contrast, a certain Mahima Chowdhary and her complete inability to pronounce a word like 'Aai' in the film Yeh Tera Ghar Ye Mera Ghar comes to mind)
The locations in this film are evocative, whether it is the verdant jungle with it's crumbling ruins or the little village settlement with it's simple homes, cattle sheds and the little stone temple.
All in all, this simple fable is a heart-warming concoction, much like a steaming plate of varan bhaat with a dollop of 'toop'. Hearty, nourishing and just what you need on a gloomy, wintry Chicago evening!
My Rating: More Puranpoli than Poli. 5 out of 5 Pistas.