The Dummies Guide To Marathi Cinema
Posted on 27 February, 2017 by Team Wishberry
Early years of Marathi cinema:By the 1920s, a few more Marathi silent features came about. Namely, Kalyan Khajina made in 1924 and Savkari Pash in 1925- both directed by Baburao Painter. But the first ever Marathi talkie film came almost a decade later in the form of a film called Ayodhyecha Raja in 1932 directed by the most notable name in Marathi cinema- V Shantaram, who further went on to make films like Manoos and Amar Bhoopali. Marathi cinema saw maestros like Bhalji Pendhalkar, Raja Paranjpe, Acharya Atre, Master Vinayak and more at the forefront of things. During this time, the focus of films remained predominantly on retelling of Hindu mythological stories and historical legends, with films such as Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahaani, and Sinhagad among others.
In 1929, V Shantaram started the Prabhat Film company in Kolhapur, which eventually moved to Pune where the present day FTII stands. In 1937, Sant Tukaram, directed by V.G. Damle and Sheikh Fattelal, went on to become the first ever Indian film to bag an international award for the best film at the prestigious Venice Film Festival.
In 1953, Acharya Atre’s Shyamchi Aai, became the first Marathi film to win the President’s Gold Medal in the first National Awards.
Then came the 1960s, from where began the Golden Era of Marathi Cinema. This period (right to the 1970s) saw the rise of filmmakers such as Anant Mane, Datta Dharmadhikari and Dada Kondke. Naturally, the new batch of filmmakers also brought along with them a shift in content. Three distinct kinds of content became evident in Marathi films. Anant Mane brought to life the folk art of Tamasha in his films, reviving the native Maharashtrian style of storytelling. Datta Dharmadhikari became known for his traditional family dramas. And, by 1970, Dada Kondke made simple comedies rich with double entendre humor popular. Interestingly, after his debut success Dada Kondke used the exact same team that he did in his very first film.
Evolution of contentWith the advent of 1970s, New Age Cinema came into existence through the works of one of the most noteworthy Marathi playwrights, Vijay Tendulkar. Vijay Tendulkar dived deep into the angry anti-establishment mood for his screenplays, plays such as Ghashiram Kotwal and gritty films like Sinhasan, Umbartha and Jait Re Jait.
Vijay Tendulkar’s Jait Re Jait
Ashok Saraf and Laxmikant Berde in Pheka Pheki
Mahesh Kothare shot his film Dhadakebaaj in the anamorphic format, making it the first Marathi film to have done so. He’s also responsible for bringing a number of technical innovations to the industry, one among which include making Pachadlela in 2004 – the first ever Marathi film with digital special effects. He later went on to make Pachadlela 2 in 3D in 2013 – once again, the first Marathi movie to have done so. Pachadlela is the first film franchise in Marathi Cinema.
Mahesh Kothare’s Dhadakebaaj
Almost simultaneously, as an echo of the prevalent social and economic sentiment in Maharashtra, New Wave Cinema seemed to be on the rise once again. But this time, the storytelling had moved from hard-hitting content to social commentary via children’s stories or with children as a key driver in the story. This was in a bid to make social subjects more palatable to a larger audience. We saw Shwaas, in 2004, which became India’s official entry to the Oscars. It also won the National Award, becoming the first Marathi film to have done so, FIFTY YEARS after Shyamchi Aai.
In 2009, Harishchandrachi Factory, directed by Paresh Mokashi, became India’s official entry to the Oscars under the Best Foreign Language Film category.
We saw films like Tingya by Mangesh Hadawale and Taryanche Bait by Kiran Yadnyopavit. Alternative films that also got the masses talking were on a steady rise too, with films like Dombivali Fast by Nishikant Kamat, Me Shivajiraje Bhosale Boltoy by Mahesh Manjrekar, Vihir by Umesh Kulkarni, Gabhricha Paus by Satish Manwar and Shaala by Sujay Dahake.