Friday, July 22, 2005

Viruddh: A simple storyline sculpted by class acting and direction

One of the advantages of being in Dubai is to have a chance to see a movie a day before it gets released in India. So it happened with Viruddh, a movie that was promoted as struggle of retired couple, Vidhyadhar Patwardhan and his wife Sumi to prove their son’s (Amar) innocence who is victim of a person with police machinery at his disposal. The story line gave a strong semblance of Mahesh Bhatt-directed ''Saaransh” made twenty odd years ago – a story of elderly couple who lose their young son in a fatal accident.

So has Viruddh established its own identity? The answer is Yes, in fact - a distinct Yes.

Viruddh is a movie devoid of any songs, leave alone Item number, sexual innuendos and brutal violence. Movie doesn’t take you to any exotic outdoor locations nor have any extravagant sets or designer clothes. Yet, Viruddh steadily involves audience as a member to milieu of Patwardhan family. The movie has no convoluted storyline with different plots. It just has two parts of Patwardhan family- first with their son and second without him. And both these parts are paced in measured way. The movie doesn’t take audience to the crescendo of excitement nor at the depth of despair in certain scenes. It is like a drama, where every scene is depicted in its original nuance and doesn’t carry legacy of previous frames, yet carry a streamlined continuity.

Mahesh Manjrekar has carried with him his strengths of Marathi drama, Middle Class Marathi ethos and social facets. In many situations, an influence of Sai Paranjpe gets pronounced. Gulzar says, film is director’s medium. Mahesh does that by providing canvass, choice of color and brush and his theme to stalwart like Amitabh Bacchan and Sharmila Tagor to portray their histrionic talents. And how superbly they have done it. Amitabh is now Dustin Hoffmann, Woody Allen of Bollywood. His acting is not just depiction of character but a portrayal of minute mannerisms, gestures and lifestyle of character. He has changed his speech delivery, gait to suit the character with his mesmerizing gift of timing. This wouldn’t have been possible without director+ actor team. Sharmila Tagor despite being at the risk of being overshadowed by male protagonist did commendable assignment.

So often in Hindi movie, in order to gain wider acceptance, script brings different religions and ethnic characters. So is this movie with Sanjay Dutt (Muslim Car Mechanic) Prem Chpora (Sikh), Sharat Saxena (south Indian), and Shivaji Satam (Parsee). But it’s heartening to note that they are not brought just to woo different section of the society but to show slice of Mumbai – as a cosmopolitan slice of life. Son Amar (John Abraham) handles role effectively so is Daughter in law (Anusha Dandekar).

Marathi drama or short stories often revolve around “sutradhar”- a character who narrates the story from bystander point of view. Amol Palekar did this in Paheli with “Naseeruddin”. Mahesh Manjrekar has used one of the main characters of script as sutradhhar- very elegantly. The repartee, humor is very middle class maharashtrian and carries essence of Pu La Deshpande, Va Pu Kale genre.

I often hate to read reviews as they often reveal outcome or narrate incidents that takes away curiosity. I avoided this while writing review. I hope I have succeeded in this endeavor.

Viruddh touches audience in many different forms. One can empathize with helplessness of Vidhyadhar, filial bond of a Patwardhan family and brutal face of those who carry material trappings. This was evident with mute silence of audience (comprised of Indian, Pakistani and Arabs) as they walked out of theater, Perhaps it was little difficult to get detached from Patwardhan family. I would recommend this film to anyone who enjoys sensitive, elegant movie with simple storyline, gripping acting and direction.


Blogger Naim Peress said...

Dear Milind,

Unlike you lucky guys in the Gulf, we Americans have to wait a while before seeing the Bollywood flicks. I actually saw it on video. I think Amitabh's performance just lifted this movie. He made it. I was so impressed. Perhaps you'd like to see my comments at Take care.


10:33 AM  

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