The actor, they say, is a mere puppet at the hands of a director. In an actor’s mind, there’s nothing black or white. He doesn’t judge, but merely plays the character he is supposed to portray. In the course of doing so, he happens to nestle the ghosts of characters he plays during his lifetime, be it Caesar, Romeo, King Lear, Ram, Krishna, or a common man.
Mahesh Manjrekar’s Natsamrat cruises through an actor’s mind and enlightens about varied aspects of acting, where an actor need not be ashamed to portray any aspect of human being, be it expletives, sex, nautch girl’s dance, tears or any emotion, which, in a way is a taut remark on our censor board, and in the same breath, silences its critics, who might want to term it as a melodrama like Sansar, Avtar, or Baaghbaan.
Nana Patekar, essays the role of Ganpat Ramchandra Belwalkar and infuses his soul in it. “Kuni ghar deta ka ghar?” he cries in Marathi, in a poignant scene that is sure to leave every member in the audience moist-eyed and is definitely an answer to Dilip Kumar’s “Ae bhai koi gaadi roko” scene of Mashaal.
Furthermore, the hospital scene featuring Nana Patekar and Vikram Gokhale (in one of his most memorable roles), playing out the Karan and Krishna scene from the Mahabharata is indeed stuff that legends are made of – something we have never seen in any Indian film, and perhaps can never be replicated in posterity.
Natsamrat has been adapted from a Marathi play by V.V. Shirwadkar’s ‘Natsamrat’, which was first staged in 1970, where Dr. Shriram Lagoo has been playing the titular role. Director Mahesh Manjrekar adds his touch as a filmmaker, striking perfect balance between Nana Patekar’s soliloquies as well as melodrama that the subject demands, never losing touch with his key character, Natsamrat.
There’s a scene in Natsamrat, where Nana Patekar’s character states that as a child he used serve tea and wafers to the theatre audience, while they watched the play. While doing so, he aspired to deliver such a powerful performance on stage that the audience would forget the wafers in their hands.
Well, the character does achieve this feat, not only on screen, but also in the multiplex auditorium, when you find your popcorn and colas unattended for a long time and even forget that you own a smartphone.
Natsamrat is a film that will compel you to stay till the last name in end credits fades out and while you’re at it, you’d even want to give a standing ovation and bow to the actor, director and the world of performing arts. Now, when was the last time you felt this way in a movie?
PS: A request to all multiplexes: Not everyone understands Marathi or regional language but might be interested to watch them. It’s indeed worth appreciating that you include subtitles in regional films (not all though), but while you do so, please mention about it in your promotions (or bookmyshow) so that the audience knows that the film is with subtitles. All it takes is text within brackets, which might make a big difference to the small bracket of our ilk.