To be or not to be... Jagava ki marava?
By Puja Roy
Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews
|Natsamrat (2016) - By Mahesh Manjrekar|
IMDb Ratings: 9.6
Cast: Nana Patekar, Vikram Gokhale, Mrunmayee Deshpande
Runtime: 166 min
Summary: The film is the screen adaptation of noted Marathi playwright Kusumagraj's iconic Marathi play "Natsamrat" which was first staged in 1970.
Watching Natsamrat makes one feel reassured in the existence of quality cinema sans the meaningless song-dance nonsense that filmmakers and a sizeable portion of the audiences today are so fond of.
Natsamrat presents Nana Patekar in the ultimate role--that of a thespian (Ganpat Ramchandra Belwalkar). An actor par excellence, Nana does complete justice to the role. The film is interspersed with dialogues and soliloquies from classic plays like Julius Caesar, Othello, Hamlet, etc., as Nana reminisces them at various points, interpreting his own crises with the artistic imagination of an actor.
With human crisis at its core and brilliant performances at the periphery, Natsamrat is the inner journey of an actor through the verisimilitudes of life.
There are instances in the film that completely suck you in with their powerful screenplay. For instance the hospital sequence, wherein Vikram Gokhale (on his death bed) and Nana get into the skin of their theatre characters of Karna and Krishna respectively and recite their lines that allude to their own crises at the moment, is a spectacle to witness. A live demonstration of the hugely talented actors’ might and their so called ‘jugalbandi’ comes to the fore. Gokhale as Nana’s friend and companion Rambhau plays his part brilliantly. He is that much needed ‘supporting character’ in the film that enhances the richness embedded in the drama, whetting the film with surcharged moments. Every scene between Patekar and Gokhale is poignant, tenuous and fragile, so much so that its ingenuity deeply moves the audience to tears.
Poems written by the great poet Shri V. V. Shirwadkar, alias Kusumagraj, are made eloquent through Nana’s expressive recitals. Poems like “Kuni, Ghar Deta Ka Re? Ghar?”, “Vidhata, Tu itka kathor ka zalas?” and the oft-repeated “To be or not to be, that is the Question; Jagava ki marava, Ha ekach sawaal aahe…” are remarkable in their usage within the screenplay.
Medha Manjrekar (Mahesh Manjrekar’s wife) as the docile, silently supporting wife behind this dynamic theatre persona is excellent. She with her supple presence lends a calming effect to the film and holds Ganpatrao’s character to its reins. Other actors like Mrunmayee Deshpande, Ajit Parab, Neha Pendse too do their parts well.
As an actor, Ganpatrao did full justice to the characters he played on screen, his immense popularity and fame is proof of it. However, what does he do when real life crisis strike him? When his dear confidante and companion dies in his arms? His beloved wife breathes her last in front of his eyes? His children abandon him? Does he face the crudity of his fate with the same élan as his characters did onstage?
|A Still from Mahesh Manjrekar's Natsamrat|
Natsamrat is the question and also the answer to these questions. And like a true Aristotelian play, watching it is a wholly cathartic experience.
P.S : A heartfelt thanks to Mr. Mahesh Manjrekar for finding his true calling in making quality Marathi cinema after churning out a series of gangster films in Bollywood. Although we wouldn’t mind at all, if he remakes Natsamrat in Hindi and casts Mr. Bachchan or may be Naseeruddin Shah in it. Till then, waiting to see more of such stuff coming from Mr. Manjrekar.
Puja has a great appetite for movies of all kinds ranging from regional, Bollywood to World Cinema. An avid reader herself, she also blogs at www.speakometer.in.
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