“What is the meaning of Elizabeth?” asks a lil girl Mukta (played by Sayali Bhandarkavathekar) to her brother Dnyanesh (played by Shrirang Mahajan) and this kid responds with an innocent, “Tikaau”, which means ‘durable’. His logic is: Elizabeth ruled for a long time in England so surely her name must be meaning ‘tikaau’ i.e. durable. Here, Elizabeth is a bicycle designed by Dnyanesh’s late father.
‘Elizabeth Ekadashi’ is a Marathi film directed by Paresh Mokashe, the guy who gave us a gem like Harishchandrachi Factory, based upon the life of Dada Saheb Phalke, which was India’s official entry to the Oscars in the Best Foreign Language Film category in 2009.
Set in Pandarpur, Maharashtra, Elizabeth Ekadashi revolves around the life of two kids, Dnyanesh and Mukta struggling to save their bicycle, Elizabeth from being sold to repay a debt by selling bangles. The kids are helped by their friends who attend their makeshift bangle store in turns so that their parents are unaware of what they’re up to. Among this bunch of kids, Pushkar Lonarkar as the stout kid is sheer delight to watch.
There’s a scene where Mukta notices their neighbouring tea vendor yelling, ‘garma-garam chahaa’ and she’s quick to retort with an equally loud, ‘garma-garam baangdi!’ It is gems like these that will leave you spellbound and take you back to those good ol’ days of childhood, when every problem had a solution, and you might even stumble upon philosophy in Newton’s Law of gravity.
Nandita Dhuri as the kids’ single mother struggling to make the ends meet is pitch perfect. She adds substance to her character of a stern mother with a heart of gold. The actress is so believable that the moment she drags Dnyanesh from the bangle wholesale dealer to home is a scene, you find yourself pleading her not to beat up the kid. When was the last time you felt so strongly for a film’s character?
Paresh Mokashi infuses life into this brilliant story written by Madhugandha Kulkarni and takes us to a world where piital (brass) is equivalent to gold and Newton shares space with the gods. At the risk of sounding blasphemous, I’d sum up Elizabeth Ekadashi as Marathi Cinema’s answer to Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali.