Starring: Rinku Rajguru, Akash Thosar
Written & Directed by Nagraj Manjule
‘Bollywood ’ ,as we call the commercial Hindi cinema, should be scared, very scared, of Marathi cinema. After Natsamrat earlier this year ,Sairat has broken all previous records to become the highest grossing Marathi film of all times.
Sairat(which means ‘wild’) is not just a film. It’s a movement. While the film itself opens up a very disturbing debate on the perils of inter-caste marriages in our society and portrays the young couple as self-destructively defiant , there is another kind movement lurking , on a subliminal level , signaling a very clear warning to the smug magniloquence of Hindi commercial cinema.
Sairat is a revolt against the tyranny of Bollywood and its corroding corrupting star system.It stars two completely unknown faces in the lead,avoids all the known and acknowledged trappings of the Indian commercial cinema, and yet succeeds in creating a rippling effect in the audience, jolting us out of the slumberous numbing status quo that has gripped mainstream commercial cinema.
Admittedly there is nothing startlingly novel about the poor-boy-rich-girl love story in Sairat. Director Nagaraj Manjule has said that his film is a tribute to the classic love stories of mainstream Hindi cinema like QayamatSe Qayamat Tak and Ek Duuje Ke Liye.
This is not quite that glamorous gauzy misty territory where the couple’s mutual passion plagued by parental fury takes wings .Yes, there is an elopement at the heart of Sairat . As in Mansoor Khan’s Qayamat SeQayamat Tak the lovers flee to relative safety and set up their home before they are hunted down by their ireful families.
But Sairat is not a designer romance with adolescent emotions adorning the newly-painted walls of an idyllic dream-home.It resolutely averts the overt cuteness of Bollywood love sagas .Though the female protagonist is affectionately called Archie , there is none of the cloying Valentiniansentimentality of the Archie’s cards and messages in this family.In one corner of the one-room chawl where the lovers seek asylum the girl puts up a poster of a romantic haven in the middle of nowhere.
Archie knows this is not the world that she has seen in the romantic films of her childhood.
What we get is a love story denuded of romantic trappings, a romance without the ‘romance’ , so to speak. To preserve the authenticity of the milieu where the central relationship blossoms, the director has shot the first half of film in his native village in Maharashtra.
Like his first highly acclaimed Marathi film Fandry, in Sairat too directorNagraj Manjule deals with the dynamics of the caste system as applied to a love affair between a backward-caste boy and privileged-class girl.
Refreshingly Akash Thosar who plays the underprivileged Parshya andRinku Rajguru who is the fiery rich girl Archie are completely new to the camera. They bring no pre-conceived image to their characters and are absolutely naturals, so much so that one begins to empathize with their emotions as one would about a young inexperienced couple which has moved into our own neighbourhood.
This is the couple we would gladly lend bucket or a an LPG gas cylinder.
A fear grew in the pit of my stomach as I watched Archie and Parshya set up a home away from their roots. Their fights and reconciliations their hesitant attempts at getting to know one another beyond the first flush of love….these are captured with directness and dispassion by the director’s unwavering belief in the power of cinema to tell its own story cogently as long as the impetus provided by the director is unbiased and unambiguous.
At its heart Sairat is a consummate protest against any kind of opposition to two individuals in love. There is a very significant moment in the narrative where Archie and Parshya are riding by ona scootie(interestingly he is the pillion) and they see young couples being hounded on the pavement by cops.
Here the film’s protagonist’s become a part of the audience in condemning the moral police.
Not all of Sairat is dazzling in its uniqueness. The storytelling doesn’t aim to gleam like a polished diamond. There is an endearing unvarnished quality to the storytelling, as if the characters had never heard of Qayamat Se QayamatTak. Most impressively Sairat doesn’t set out to impress us by being the most ruthlessly revisionist version of Shakespeare’s Rome & Juliet yet.
The director has a love story about two socially unequal people to tell. Little did he know , or care, that it would acquire legendary proportions in no time at all