- Movie : Kesari | केसरी
- Producer : Santosh Ramchandani
- Director & Editor: Sujay S Dahake
- Cinematography (DOP) : Sandeep Giyan Yadav
- Writer : Niyaj Mujavar
- Background Music : Saket Kanetkar
- Star Cast : Virat Madke, Mahesh Manjrekar, Vikram Gokhale, Umesh Jagtap, Chhaya Kadam, Jaywant Wadkar & Mohan Joshi
Viewpoint: Sujay Dahake’s ‘Kesari’ stands out strong & bold among the crowd of sports dramas being made everywhere in India. More than the plot of the film it’s the visual experience that the film gives matters here which in turn reflects into our emotional experience throughout the film.
- 5 Minutes into the film and you know you are in for a rare visual treat coming from a Marathi film. A wider aspect ratio has been used for the film which makes the visuals come out of the frame without any 3D effect. The way the camera caresses the protagonist preparing for the ‘Kusti’ shows how the beauty of a human body should be captured on the celluloid (or a digital celluloid). The lush green locales of the village in which the film is set, are actually contrasting in a film about ‘Kusti’. Probably indicating that it’s not really about ‘Kusti’!
- The lead actor of the film, Virat Madke is a real find. He fits the part perfectly in every way and keeps us backing him throughout the journey of the film.
- Every important character in the film has clear established traits that makes them feel real even when they don’t have any conventional tracks of their own and are in the story just to facilitate the protagonist.
- The dialogue writing especially in the first half, is extremely effective. It strikes the right balance of authenticity and a tad bit of filmyness. The dialogues are more effective because they are not thrown at us all the time, they come in at specific dramatic situations which take the film forward.
- There’s a scene in the film when our protagonist decides to enter a traditional “Kusti Taalim Akhada” to be trained & groomed under a master. The master played by Jaywant Wadkar understanding the economic situation of the protagonist introduces his “Akhada” in a way that is not insulting to the hero but also opens his eyes (and ours), shows him the reality that “Kusti” today is not a sport for the poor, it’s for the privileged ones. Countless films have come about “Kusti” in recent times, every other film probably missed this reflection of reality!
- Almost until the end of second half we don’t really see actual “Kusti” ploys being practiced by our protagonist. That is not necessarily a problem up until then as the film addresses that and the protagonist himself is frustrated about it. But by the end Mahesh Manjrekar’s character (Protagonist’s Guru) says that throughout he wasn’t preparing our hero for the Kusti match alone but for life itself, that definitely doesn’t coincide with the overall sensibilities of the film & it clearly feels melodramatic. Adding to that melodrama there’s a twist added to the climax of the film that also feels very unnecessary.
Final Verdict: ‘Kesari’ is a must have theater experience! “Kusti” is a inherent part of our culture and yet there are hardly any decent films made about it in Marathi. ‘Kesari’ changes that totally and through the use of modern cinematic tools & sensibilities!