Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Film review: Marathi film, Wavtal

Director: Shivaji Lotan Patil
Starring: Tejaswini Pandit, Ashok Samarth, Mukesh Tiwari, Vinay Apte, Sunil Shende
Rating: **



When filmmakers take up issues like sex, rape, homosexuality or prostitution, there are often faced with a conundrum - how does one tackle an essentially sensational subject without resorting to sensationalism oneself? Of course, this is a question applicable only to those who are at least reasonably serious about the cause they wish to highlight. The vast majority tend to operate in bad faith, taking up these themes precisely because they attract eyeballs. If not that, the temptation is to go the full hog, be as graphic and titillating as possible - all under the garb of making a gritty and noble film.

Unfortunately, Marathi film Wavtal falls under the third category, where a reasonably good story-line (based on Anant Samant's novel, K-5) is made ineffectual, thanks to the above reason. In telling us about the horrors of a rape victim, the makers put their female lead ( Tejaswini Pandit - good) through every kind of torture at the hands of the man who takes her captive (Mukesh Tiwari - one note). The scenes are all extremely graphic and tasteless. We even saw a few in the audience walking out in disgust. The premise itself would not have been offensive, if it were to have a psychological edge and if Tiwari was not portrayed as a completely dark character. But just showing a woman suffering and being put to every indignity in the world amounts to nothing but titillation.

The story itself has potential. The film starts with an Army commando, called K-5 (the name of his section and his own number) raiding a small terrorist hideout. He finds a young woman (Tejaswini) with a child there, and thinks her to be a part of the gang. He brings her to his work station, located in the middle of a desert, and waits for her to break her stony silence. When she finally does, he's shocked by what she recounts. She tells him about her blissful married life before she and her husband are attacked by a mob during their visit to Mumbai. She is captured by one of the men, and the rest leads her down a horrific path.

In the hands of a better director and screen-play writer, Wavtal could have just been a hard-hitting film. Ashok Samarth(good, solid performance), as K-5 is an intense character, and his relationship with the young woman makes for some engaging moments. K-5's confrontation with Tejaswini's influential father-in-law in the final scenes are also well-done. But apart from that, the film's tone is too loud. Wavtal has the framework of a proper commercial film, which is why one is not willing to buy the makers' attempts to pass off grossly disturbing scenes as realism. Finally, it's the treatment that does the film in.

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