wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)
With Masala, Girish Kulkarni’s conquests as a writer and actor continue. Fresh on the heels of his National Award for Deool, comes a charming little film about two protagonists whom you start feeling for within minutes. The rest of the film’s experience is about some excellent performances and the smile that you’ll have on your face throughout. Masala should be watched.Read more
‘Mi anandasathi kahich karat nahin, anandani karto’ (I don’t do things for happiness, I do them happily) proclaims Dilip Prabhavalkar, who plays an eccentric scientist who conducts experiments for social good in his homegrown lab – experiments that often go BOOM! This line, and indeed Dilip Prabhavalkar’s character, is one of the many quirky aspects of Masala, produced by Umesh Kulkarni and Girish Kulkarni, the men behind Deool.
Directed by debutante Sandesh Kulkarni, Masala is another feather in the cap of National Award winner Girish Kulkarni, one of the finds of Indian cinema in recent times. If Deool was though-provoking in an obvious manner, Masala takes a slightly different route to make you think – it makes you smile.
Girish Kulkarni and Amruta Subhash play a young married couple who are constantly on the run from creditors. Their life is just a cycle wherein they go to a new place, set up shop, end up owing money to people because they themselves are owed money and ultimately end up sneaking away to a new place in the midst of the night. Along the way, they face situations and meet characters that are like milestones in their quest for a state of equilibrium.
While every character in Masala makes you smile, a closer inspection will reveal that they stand for so much more than what they appear to be on the surface – Dilip Prabhavalkar’s mad scientist for example – an analogy can be drawn between his life and the life of our protagonist couple.
While Girish Kulkarni’s performance undoubtedly needs to be lauded, it is his writing that is the real star of Masala. With crackling, insightful dialogue and a screenplay that makes the film a true journey for the characters as well as the audience, Girish Kulkarni once again proves the old adage - content is ultimately king. Amruta Subhash also delivers an earnest performance as his wife. She is charming and sincere and you truly feel for her character of a woman who stands by her husband like a rock.
Of course, watching actors like Dr. Mohan Agashe and Dilip Prabhavalkar is always a joy. Their characters are like mirrors for the protagonist. It is through them that his journey seems to acquire meaning. Dr. Shreeram Lagoo’s name on the poster of the film excited me, and his brief appearance was heart-warming as always, even though I least expected him to appear as the character he played in the film.
Another place where the film exceeded my expectations was its technique. Masala is visually appealing in terms of its cinematography, even though one can easily tell which shots were taken with a DSLR. Also, a special mention must be made of the background score. It seemed to hit just the right note when the situation demanded it, complimenting the character’s state of mind well. I did have some reservations about the manner in which the film was edited, but they were more on the creative side rather than the technical. I would perhaps have structured the film slightly differently, but I’d have to watch the film again to be sure.
In fact, Masala is one of the only Marathi films I’ve seen lately which I feel like watching twice, only because something tells me that in all of the humour and charm, I may have missed out on something that lay far deeper. I only hope that as many people as possible watch this film at least once, if only to spend some time in their life smiling a real smile.
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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