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Upperstall Review

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Vihir

 

Marathi, Drama, 2010, Color





Pune-based Sameer (Madan Deodhar) and his cousin Nachiket (Alok Rajwade) finally meet up after corresponding through letters for a relative's wedding in the country. Their easy camaraderie is punctuated by swims in the local well . Nachiket suffers from some kind of existential crisis, but no one, not even Sameer, seems to notice. The boys fall out after a squabble over Nachiket's hesitation to move to Pune for school and they separate on a down note. Deciding to make amends, Sameer heads back to the town to find that in his absense Nachiket has drowned...



The first part of Vihir has you elated as you see yet again the giant cinematic strides that Marathi cinema is making in the country. No doubt, it is churning out some of the best films in India. But sadly, the second half takes the film somewhere else altogether making you wonder if you've seen two different films. Vihir, for all its moments (and there are many of them), still ends up leaving you quite disappointed at the end of it all since the second half simply fails to work.

That said, Vihir shows a maturity in its cinematic craft that is rare in Indian cinema. Though the strongly rooted film has numerous characters, they are all fleshed out nicely, its various scenes are conceived clearly by a filmmaker who knows his job and the film is exquisitely shot. The huge ensemble cast - the best of current Marathi cinema - is spot on with their performances especially the two young boys, Madan Deodhar and Alok Rajwade. Director Kulkarni shows his fine control over the medium when the Pune family meets the rural family. The interactions between the various family members in different combination and permutations as they meet over an impending wedding are real, well-detailed, heart-warming and often bring a smile to the face. He makes extremely great use of the locales at his disposal and some of the sequences - the ones with the children playing hide and seek or the ones with Sameer and Nachiket at the well - work really nicely.

It is in the second half as Sameer tries to come to terms with Nachiket's death that the film falters. As it is, even in the first half you are not entirely convinced that the two adolescent boys would have that deep a spiritual leaning in them and you find Sameer's ultimate reconciliation to his cousin's death too laboured. In fact, for all the expressive visuals, this part does recall a lot of the typical film school diploma films with the film now on a trip and almost on the road to nowhere. Consequently, it fails to be as coherent and focussed as Kulkarni's earlier film, Valu.

The technicalities are top notch. Special mention has to made of Sudheer Palsane's extremely evocative cinematography be it the rural landscape, the rural interiors or Pune city. The framing, lighting and compositions have a layering to them rarely seen in our films. There's no one who quite captures ruralscape as well as Palsane. We've seen this before in Valu and Gabhricha Paus and we see it again now. The sound design too deserves a mention and thankfully the film makes most judicious use of background music. The editing paces the film along languidly and nicely but while this works beautifully in the period up to Nachiket's death, it appears tedious and slow as the film drifts (almost aimlessly) in the second half.

All in all, Vihir leaves you dissatisfied in spite of all its extremely fine cinematic craft and moments. One expected more and yes, one expected better.


Upperstall review by: Karan Bali aka TheThirdMan





 

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