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A lot of people may not find Kaksparsh the easiest film to watch, but Mahesh Manjrekar deserves a pat on his back just for the story that he has chosen to tell. A tale of love that transcends what is considered acceptable by society even today, this period piece is a credible film and a feather in Mahesh Manjrekar’s cap.
"A film should be like a pebble in your shoe." - Lars Von Trier
Love stories come in all shapes and sizes. Some, like that of our very own Raj and Simran, make you root for the protagonists, they make you want the two to end up together. Then there are some, like my personal favourite, Casablanca, which make you feel like there is no love like one which is unrequited. And then, there is Mahesh Manjrekar's Kaksparsh, a complex love story unlike any other.
Set across a time span of a few decades, the film starts off in pre-independence India, where Hari, a man of strict principles, is planning the wedding of his brother Mahadev, with the help of his close friend Balwant. Mahadev marries a teenaged girl, who hasn't even reached puberty yet. Tragedy strikes barely a few months later, as young Mahadev dies the very night they were to finally consummate their wedding.
Then starts the journey of a complex, near-exasperating story - a love story. Kaksparsh can make some people uncomfortable, test the patience of some, perhaps even make a select few walk out. It poses questions for most of the narrative and resolves them at the end, only to pose new, larger and more difficult questions as it fades out. The most important of them - what, really, is love?
Mahesh Manjrekar deserves appreciation, first for choosing this story to tell and then for the manner in which he has told it. The look, feel and mood that the film creates is first rate, even if the production design had a lot of scope to enhance the feel.
One of Kaksparsh’s triumphs is the cast of the film. Sachin Khedekar anchors the film with a solid performance. Playing a stubborn man with strong opinions and principles is far harder than it sounds. For such a character to achieve any level of credibility is a task, and he more than delivers. Ketki Mategaonkar and Priya Bapat who play the young widow Uma in different stages of her life are extremely likeable and believable. Sanjay Khapre as Balwant is extremely competent as well. His face radiates the sense of stability that his character is meant to emanate.
Kaksparsh holds your attention because of little details and moments. The customs and rituals of a Brahmin family in pre-independence India, little things like the language the older brother uses in a letter to his younger brother, even the historical connection that has been made with the character of Balwant, all these moments lend a texture to the film.
Even more intriguing are the scenes involving the life of a young widow in the backward Indian milieu - especially a widow who has been bereaved even before the marriage is consummated. Love isn’t just about a man and woman having romantic feelings for each other. It is about how much you are willing to give up and how far you are willing to go for the person you claim to love.
Kaksparsh deserves to be watched because the makers of the film dared to do something that few people do – tell a story that needed to be told, even if a majority of the audience will not identify with the characters and their motivations. It re-establishes Mahesh Manjrekar as a director with promise. Most importantly, it opens another trove of questions regarding what makes mankind unique as a race – the concept of love.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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