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Upperstall Review




Marathi, Comedy, Drama, 2011, Color

Years of bad weather and drought have taken a toll on the village of Mangrul in Maharshtra and on the spirit of its people. However, on a usual sleepy afternoon in the village one day, Kesha, a herdsman, has a 'divine vision' of Shri Guru Dutta emerging from the silently standing fig tree. Bewildered, Kesha runs across the village announcing the appearance of lord Dutta to the passersby. One tells the other, he, a few more. The news soon spreads like a wild fire. The young guns of the village see this as a long awaited opportunity to change things in their poor village. Soon, it becomes a matter of interest for the media, politicians etc etc. The young guns are thrilled. A life that they saw only on television, the glitter of the cities and a lifestyle they have been dreaming off will finally be theirs... Or will it?

Umesh Kulkarni's effort with Vihir catapulted him into a league of young filmmakers to watch out for; those who attempt to decipher the human condition and craft an incredibly engaging film of ideas. That Vihir did not get seen by an audience large enough, one that it deserved; seems to play a part in Kulkarni's follow up to it: Deool.

Deool, translated Temple, takes on the much-ignored issue of blind faith. Interestingly, Kulkarni sets the story in a village even though an urban milieu would've possibly exposed the irony of faith brushing off any reworking of progress. He digs deep (and the first scene is one of the protagonist stumbling across an archaeological expedition) and gets to the root, the origins of the problem; mocking them to a point of eventual ridiculousness.

Kulkarni's characters are all deliberately flaky and border on the stereotype. This is his big departure from Vihir. A politician whose agenda changes with the direction of the wind, a woman village sarpanch who can barely speak up against her own mother-in-law, a simpleton who sees the sign of god after a meal and the sun get to him, his mother who is willing to shed an equal number of tears for him and her favorite TV soap. Even the village's wise man - who plays the flute by moonlight in an open field and advises people to keep their beliefs personal - take flight to a city after understanding that there is little hope for change in these environs.

At halfway point - one that comes at length - Kulkarni treats you to an item song to celebrate the opening of the temple. At this point Deool shifts gear and the sharp satire - targeted at knowing audiences - is replaced with an agenda to educate. The finely nuanced scenes give way to noise and color. The story now starts talking directly to its own characters. This is where Deool stops intellectualizing, and much to its own detriment, starts sermonizing. This is where the film -“ along with the weight of its length, multiple subplots, and forced music - begins to unravel and ends a journey too heavy to complete in the mood it started with. The mayhem is deliberate for all the wrong reasons. Commercial pressure? A film for the cross section? Either way, the poetry of Vihir is sorely missed.

Upperstall review by: filmbear

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