Marathi film review: VALU
Not just a cock and bull story
Director: Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni
Starring: Atul Kulkarni, Mohan Agashe, Dilip Prabhavalkar, Nandu Madhav, Amruta Subhash
One of the most likeable aspects of Valu is that it has the comic-book feel, like an Amar Chitra Katha. Wonderfully textured and teeming with delightful characters and small-town quirks, this Marathi film sparkles with charm and humour, albeit it’s not without its share of problems.
Kusavde, is a village the interiors of Maharashtra where a wild bull (Valu) is creating a bit of havoc and its people desperately want to restrain it. Nothing has worked so far, so the forest department commissions an officer, Swanand Gaddamwar (Atul Kulkarni) to capture it. His younger brother too shows an inclination to join the expedition, hoping he can shoot an interesting documentary around the whole incident. They are greeted with much excitement and curiosity, more so because most believe it will be their first thrust with fame, thanks to the documentary.
Around time of the capture of the bull, the director paints an authentic canvas of colourful characters and village caricatures. There’s Aba (Nandu Madhav) and Anna (Mohan Agashe) who have a small game of political one-upmanship going on between them, there’s the village pandit (Dilip Prabhavalkar) and his portly better half (Nirmitee Sawant) who dream of having their own separate latrine at home (must say, the sequences between them create an absolute laugh riot).Then there’s Jeevan, till then a loser, who attains the glow of a hero by the end of the story - all thanks to the bull. He finds both his lady-love and respect from his villagers at the end of this four-day adventure.The most interesting portion here is the love story that emerges amidst the chaos. Sangi (Amruta Subhash) and Shivaji carry on their own little filmy romance --- here and there are some other portions as well where Kulkarni shows the heavy influence of Hindi cinema in the interiors.
There are many other noteworthy characters but one that really stands out is the one of Satish (Satya), a guy who lives near the shit-pot and whose favourite hobby is to keep a count of how many times a person visits it in a day. Though no character is portrayed as totally black, these are subtle hints that the director throws to ascertain their psyches.
However, the story is not without its weaknesses. The director’s attempt to create a symbolism between the bull and innate rebel instinct found in each of the characters doesn’t come through very naturally. The central premise is weak, though it may have seemed like a great idea on paper. Also, this being just a one-line script, the story becomes strained after a point. But then the performances are top-notch, the cinematography (Sudhir Phalsane) is stunning and without a shred of doubt, director, Umesh Kulkarni is a director to watch out for.