Posted on 21 April, 2016 by Team Wishberry
The mark of an excellent movie is its timelessness. And it’s just wonderful that Marathi cinema has a whole bunch of amazing films that, if anything, are like fine wine – they only get better with age! We did some time travelling into the past and brought back a list of Marathi films that are pure timeless gems. *furiously update To Be Watched Films list*
Kunku Year: 1937 Directed by: V. Shantaram Based on Narayan Hari Apte’s novel Na Patnari Goshta, this film revolves around a young woman who’s rebelling against her marriage to an old widower, the consequences of child marriage and the position of women in conservative traditional Indian society. The film went on to become a critical and commercial success internationally as well! It was remade in Hindi as Duniya Na Mane. The film’s lead actress also sang a fully English song called ‘A Psalm of Life’ written by Longfellow! Year: 1939 Director: V. Shantaram Manoos is ahead of its time in the very subject it talks about. The film is about Ganpat, a policeman, who saves Maina – a prostitute, during a police raid. They fall in love, and in an attempt to rehabilitate her life, Ganpat marries Maina. What follows is a love story marred by social disapproval, misery, guilt and a murder. The movie was also remade in Hindi as Aadmi. Year: 1972 Director: V. Shantaram The film is fondly remembered for many reasons, few of them being the Tamasha setup and that this film paved the way for color films in Marathi cinema. Pinjra is about an idealistic teacher who starts out in opposition of a Tamasha group’s arrival in his village and ends up falling in love with the group’s lead dancer. The film beautifully tackles moral dilemmas, social construct and uses Pinjra (meaning, cage) as a metaphor for life, freedom from which is possible only through death.
Samna Year: 1974 (re-released in 1975) Director: Jabbar Patel Written by Vijay Tendulkar, Samna is a film that captures the then prevalent socio-political mood of Maharashtra: angry, intense, frustrated. Samna brought to light the conflicts induced by the sugar cooperatives that were then emerging in the state, and the resultant economic marginalization of the Dalit community. Want a trip back into the conflict-striken Maharashtra of the 70s? This is your film.
Jait re Jait Year: 1977 Director: Jabbar Patel Following an incident Nagya (played by Mohan Agashe) plots revenge against a Queen Bee, by cutting down all the beehives located on a nearby peak. Nagya’s angst-ridden mission leads to an unfortunate turn of events, in a case of classic paradox. Jait Re Jait is one of the films that mark the dawn of angry, politically aware films in Marathi cinema. Starring Smita Patil and Mohan Agashe, the film is about a tribal caste called Thakar.
Umbartha Year: 1982 Directed by: Jabbar Patel Protagonist Sulabha Mahajan (played by Smita Patil) gets a job offer as a Superintendent of a Women’s Reformatory Home in a remote town. Overcoming opposition from her lawyer husband and conservative mother in law, she steps out of the confines of her traditional household, assuming the role of a more responsible citizen, to bring about an actual change in society. The not-your-typical-fairy-tale-happy-ending, and her struggle that many women can relate to even today, make it a thought-provoking watch.
Ek Hota Vidushak Year: 1992 Director: Jabbar Patel One of the few films made on Tamasha artists, Ek Hota Vidushak takes you through the life of a folk theatre artist. It’s based on a short story by Jabbar Patel, and the screenplay and dialogues are written by one of the most popular Marathi writers, P.L. Deshpande after a hiatus of 39 years. The film is moving quest of love through a web of conceit, ambition and worldly desires. Innocent, moving and nostalgic of Maharashtra’s beloved folk theatre, this is a film that’ll make you smile through tears.
Bangarwadi Year: 1995 Director: Amol Palekar Bangarwadi is the story of a young schoolteacher’s mission of educating and emancipating a small shepherding village. Plagued by the sudden death of the village head, a prolonged drought and ignorance from the government, this film will break your heart and make you rethink the current drought situation prevalent in rural Maharashtra. Year: 2002 Director:
Sumitra Bhave The film is seen through the eyes of Dr. Bhaskar, a Magsaysay Award Winner, who returns to his village after 40 years of living in the city. This film is a brave and hard-hitting story of one illiterate woman’s determination and gumption to break her son free from the feudal rural background of his once-powerful family and pursue his dreams of becoming a doctor. Year: 2004 Director: Bipin Nadkarni Uttarayan explores the concept of love and companionship in old age – a topic that still raises eyebrows and provokes lengthy discussions. A widower of 14 years (played by Shivaji Satam) returns to Mumbai post his retirement to live with his son, where he meets his teenage love (played by Neena Kulkarni) and once again falls in love with her. Thus begins a journey of rediscovery, second chances and defying conventions of love set upon us by society.
Shwaas Year: 2004 Director: Sandeep Sawant No list of awesome Marathi films is complete without a worthy mention of Shwaas. This is a moving film about a little boy with retinal cancer, whose only shot at survival is a surgery that will leave him permanently blind. Thus, begins a grandfather’s heartbreaking struggle to save his grandson, while coming to terms with the agony of his little boy losing his sight. Simple yet immensely moving, Shwaas will make you feel things even more than a decade later.
Jogwa Year: 2005 Director: Rajiv Patil Jogwa is alms given to a Jogta and/or a Jogtin i.e. a man or a woman sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in service and devotion to a God/Goddess. A Jogta and a Jogtin aren’t allowed to marry, have kids or pursue their own life, once they are surrendered to a deity. This film is a love story of a Jogta and a Jogtin, through which we see the unraveling of society’s hypocrisy and the exploitation oppressed classes face as a result of archaic traditions and blind faith. It’s based on three novels – Dr. Rajan Gavas’s Chaundak and Bhandar Bhog, and Charuta Sagar’s Darshan.
Nital Year: 2006 Directors: Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar Nital is the story of a girl with Vitiligo and her relationship with her partner and his family. Although released a decade ago, Nital still holds relevance owing to how beauty standards continue to be a hot topic of debate even today. Which Marathi film from the past years do you enjoy watching even today? Tell us!