wogma rating: Add to “To Watch” list, watch some day (?)
Paulwaat is film about a middle-class youth who attempts to follow his dreams in the gut-wrenching bowels of Mumbai’s music industry. While the film has, at its heart, an honest story, it is let down by poor technique and direction. Apart from failing to capture, in any measure whatsoever, the essence of the struggle that one has to truly endure in Mumbai, it also fails to explore some potentially interesting characters and relationships. Poor attention to detail adds to the woes of this film. Though by no means an unwatchable film, one sorely misses a strong directorial voice in this honest story.Read more
Paulwaat quite instantly makes one feel that though it isn’t particularly novel or brave, the film has an honest story. However, apart from the fact that it is technically quite amateurish, the film’s biggest problem is that director Aditya Ingale just fails to inject the same honesty into the film’s treatment.
The story, in spite of being nowhere close to new, does strike a chord. A young, middle-class man leaves a settled job and comes to Mumbai, that grand merchant of dreams, to pursue his artistic aspirations - familiar to most and to some like me, intensely personal. The film then traces the struggles that follow and the relationships he crafts along the way.
The ‘struggle’ is a concept that the protagonist, Anant, knows he has to go through, but somehow doesn’t seem to fully understand. At times this seems like a deliberate character trait. There are times, however, when it appears that the character just wasn’t developed enough.
The relationships that he gradually forges also give the feeling that they aren’t explored completely. Chief amongst these is the one he shares with his spirited landlady – a tough-as-nails, no-nonsense woman with a sad past and a tender heart. Then there is Usman bhai, a veteran classical musician who has seen only struggle throughout his journey of life. Their stories, though touching, seem like pages from an incomplete book.
Technically, the film leaves a lot to be desired. The shot-taking and cutting are often plain shoddy. The lead actor Subodh Bhave (playing Anant) doing a fairly decent job. The rest of the cast lends adequate support. The music is mostly functional, sometimes pleasant, but never memorable. The highlight of the music is a soulful song sung by Asha Bhosale, my personal favourite playback singer.
Then, of course, there is the lack of attention to detail. Even though the entire film is set in Mumbai, nearly 80% of it seems to be shot elsewhere, something that is extremely conspicuous. The silhouette shots of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link that appear at intervals are simply not enough. Usman bhai, who is supposed to be a Hindi-speaking Muslim character hailing from the North of India, seems distinctly not Muslim and not North Indian. While such details are important in cinema, they are still at a superficial level. This film’s biggest problem lies far deeper.
For a struggling artist/performer who is new to Mumbai, one of the biggest factors contributing to the struggle is the city itself. It is a hard place to live in, even harder to make a mark in. Thousands of dreams are swept into oblivion every single day. When you use public transport and have to travel all over the city to show your work to the men holding the puppet strings, it takes a physical and emotional toll on you. These little details needed to be woven into the film at a visual level so subtly that they would gently creep into the subconscious of the viewer. That is what contributes to a soul-stirring cinematic experience, and that is what is sorely lacking in this film. The fact, then, that local trains don’t find even a cursory mention in the film can easily be forgiven.
In the end, Paulwaat ends up being like that ordinary cup of coffee you have some mornings. It does the job that it was meant to do, but it doesn’t nearly satisfy you.
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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