wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)
If a little tugging at your heartstrings is what you need, then Baboo Band Baaja is the film for you this weekend. This multiple National Award-winning film is a simple story of the tough circumstances a family in a village face, and the manner in which they deal with it. Embellished with some earnest performances that are hard to forget, this little gem is the kind of film that we should feel responsible to support.Read more
It has been a while since a film made me smell the earthen floor of a hut, the tulsi (holy basil) in the courtyard, the fragrance that rises when you spill water on the soil of dry, hot land. Baboo Band Baaja isn’t the first film to be set in rural Maharashtra, but it is one of those films that will not leave me in a hurry, no matter how many Housefulls and Golmaals I watch along the way. A poignant, touching tale of a simple family, Baboo Band Baaja has been made with the kind of honesty and sincerity that is rare to find in Indian cinema today.
Jaggu is a man who runs a band that plays at every occasion in the village, be it a funeral or a marriage. A band that he has named after his only son, Baboo. Baboo’s mother does odd jobs for a living and has big dreams for her son – she wants to educate him in the best possible manner, against all odds. But their circumstances are such that they can’t even afford to buy him a school uniform. Jaggu, on the other hand, believes that his son should take after him in the band, since that is what the men in their family have been doing for generations. Stuck in the middle is Baboo, a bright little kid who is always thrown out of class for some reason or the other.
The film is essentially the story of the cards that life deals this troubled family and how they cope with them. The most striking aspect of this film is the lead cast. Milind Shinde as Jaggu, Vivek Chabukswar as little Baboo and Mitali Jagtap Varadkar as his mother play their parts so well that, for the first time in many years, I forgot I was watching a film. The connect with the characters, their joys, their sorrows, with their very lives felt so real that when the lights came on, first in the interval and then at the end, it felt like a jolt back to reality. No wonder then that Mitali and young Vivek won National Awards for their performances in this film.
Director, Pinjani deserves full marks for treating the film the way he has. When making a film like this, it is easy to get over-indulgent. But Rajesh Pinjani keeps any form of indulgence to a minimum, letting the village setting and the spontaneity of his cast do the talking instead. Also, a special mention must go to the editor of the film, Santosh Gothoskar. There is only one thing I can say about him – he has edited the film with love.
Baboo Band Baaja is really about the little nuances of life that the director chooses to show – the love that a mother has for her child, the frustrated existence of a man who has resigned himself to the fact that neither he nor his son can ever rise above their financial problems, the spirited grandmother who warms your heart every time she protects the little child from a thrashing, the pride that a mother feels when her son recites the tables of 2. Every little scene evokes a little bit of warmth, a little bit of sorrow, and a whole lot of wonder at the choices that the debutante director makes in the journey of the film.
Baboo Band Baaja manages to take a slice out of village life and place it before audiences who are ordinarily subjected to, well, tripe. Like Deool, it is one of those films that makes the Marathi film industry proud. I only hope that there are enough screens that are showing this film with subtitles, so that the audience is not limited to only people who understand Marathi. Baboo Band Baaja is a film worth investing in, not just financially, but emotionally as well.
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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