A Marathi period film, which depicts complex social norms of 1930s in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, is releasing on May 4 to mark the beginning of the centenary year of India’s first film, Raja Harishchandra, which was released on May 3, 1913 by Dadasaheb Phalke.
Kaksparsha, which refers to an after-death ritual practiced among Hindus, is directed by Mahesh Manjrekar, and has Sachin Khedekar essaying the role of the protagonist.
“It is a happy coincidence that the film is releasing on May 4. Being a period film, we have recreated that era. It is about a revolutionary man who takes on the system,” said Manjrekar. The film revolves around a child widow and narrates how Haridada, her brother-in-law, seeks to protect her in difficult situations arising out of social rituals such as tonsuring widow’s head.
“The film shows a man’s tryst with tradition and rituals of 1930s’ Konkan. While we are trying to reinterpret relationships in modern times it helps to look deeper into our past and understand where we come from. That is the purpose of the film,” said Khedekar who plays Haridada in the film. Khedekar and Manjrekar worked on the story, originally written by Usha Datar, for more than three years, and it was shot in a traditional house in Palshet in Konkan. The film also has 200-year-old songs hummed by women while working at the grinding stone, known traditionally as ovya.
Recently, Shala, another movie produced by Manjrekar, won the national award for best regional language film. At the same time, Deool also won the national award for best film.
Filmmakers say Marathi cinema is not only venturing into newer and original storylines but the audience and critics are also supportive. “If you analyse successful films in the past five years, you will find that no two films have been similar. The industry is going through a transition,” said Khedekar.
Multiplexes and better support from producers has also helped. “There are many artists, filmmakers who are from film institutes and theatre background. Their way of looking at filmmaking is serious and different. The audience has also been open to experiments such as Valu, Shala, Harishchandrachi Factory. There will always be mediocre films made for getting subsidies or just commercial success but success of these films is inspiring new filmmakers,” said Umesh Kulkarni, director of Deool, who recently released Masala, which is also doing well.