Cast: Sahil Joshi, Abhay Mahajan, Ketan Pawar, Shashank Shende, Kalyanee Mulay, Suhas Shirsat, Umesh Jagtap
Director: Makarand Mane
This much feted (State, National & International) Makarand Mane’s debut directorial effort, Ringan-The Quest, is set in the backdrop of the agonising agrarian crisis in Maharashtra state and the rest of the country. Farmers have been committing suicide for want of support and succour from the Government and the survivors have been left behind to fend for themselves in an environment that doesn’t hold any hope for survival.
One such debt-ridden farmer Arjun Magar (Shashank Shende) and his little motherless son Abhimanyu a.k.a Abdu (Sahil Joshi) are the protagonists in an endurance testing unremitting scenario of depth and despair. Mane’s film basically tries to put a positive spin on the tragedy of farmer suicides, hoping that the victims will gather hope rather than despair from this positively engaging portrait of survival.
Magar wakes up from his suicidal spiral when a school teacher brings to his attention the letter written by his young son. Egged on by the guilt of having neglected his son’s care, Magar moves to Pandharpur in the hopes that the lord’s abode will be a little more welcoming and fruitful to them. After walking the streets for a few days, he manages to get hired by shop owner. He works in earnest and saves a large part of it. But while he is in the shop his isolated son feels a strong yearning for his mother. And then he gets the news that his land may be eaten up by a dairy farm.
Caught between losing the only property of value he owned and his son’s yearning, Magar begins to falter and gives in to temptation- in more ways than one. But his son will not let him go all the way.
The city of Pandharpur with its temples, markets and residential tenements lends strong character to this assay. Abdu’s friendship with an idol maker who takes him under his wing, is endearing while Magar’s brotherly bond with his colleague (Suhas Shirsat) becomes the barometer that distinguishes between right and wrong. Mane doesn’t point fingers, is never judgmental and allows for his characters to develop their own meter of idealism. For Magar, Honesty above all else is what he preached to his son- so when he himself strays from that path, his breakdown was inevitable. But that’s not the end of the road for him either.
Mane makes sure his main character clings on to hope and is able to make restitution for his mistake. And the shop-owner conveniently obliges.
Mane’s film is about hope and how resilience can make even the most hopeless situation seem liveable.
Technically the film is in good hands. The narrative flows smoothly, the editing isn’t conspicuous, the cinematography makes the drama come alive, the background score is subtly enlivening and the performances are so life like that you can’t help but feel touched by each of them.
Shashank Shende and Sahil Joshi are first rate, there’s not a false note in their act. Kalyani Mulay is the showstopper as a kind-hearted sex-worker who explains the reality of her situation to the young boy in comprehensible terms. This is certainly a film worth watching. So, don’t get tempted by the riff-raff on show this week- make the right choice!