Sairat throws caution to the Bollywood winds

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A hero should have six-pack abs. A heroine must be slim and fair. A villain must be dark skinned. A hero must always rescue the heroine. A love story must have romantic scenes. The cinematography must make every frame look beautiful. Nobody writes love letters in the age of Facebook. A storyline of Romeo & Juliet or Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak has become outdated. A film must be short enough to cater the shrinking attention span of today’s generation. Only star kids can make a blockbuster debut.

Now that we’re done with striking out all those ‘new-age’ filmmaking mantras that we have imbibed from our current crop of Hindi films, here’s a Marathi film (With subtitles), Sairat, which aptly means ‘wild’, which breaks every rule with unabashed glee.

In Sairat, the hero is rather skinny. The heroine isn’t slim and ‘conventionally good looking’. The villain is fair-skinned but in a way, he isn’t the actual villain here. The heroine rescues the hero every time he gets beaten up. There are no romantic scenes except few songs which take the story forward. The cinematography seems as real as your handy-cam footage.

The hero writes love letters to the heroine after looking for her on FB. The film pays tribute to Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (In fact, it outsmarts the classic). The film is 2 hours 54 minute i.e. close to 3 hours. The lead actors are debutants, not even professional actors. The lead actor, Akash Thosar is a college student and a wrestler, while the female actor, Rinku Rajguru is a 10th class student. Both actors are now National Award winners for this film.

Directed by Nagraj Manjule, Sairat is indeed a masterpiece of our times. The reason isn’t because of its break-the-stereotypes approach even in a typical done-to-death love story, but because of its sheer brilliance in the way it is narrated. There’s a technique at play here.

The director introduces his lead characters, Prashant Kale, aka Parshya (Ably played by debutant Akash Thosar) and Archana Patil, aka Archie (Played to perfection by Rinku Rajguru) and his friends Pradeep Bansode, aka Langdya/Balya (Tanaji Galgunde who guarantees multiple LOL moments in this otherwise serious film), Salim Shaikh, aka Salya (Arbaz Shaikh as the silent caring friend who’s always there for Parshya) and their entire lil’ world in Karmala Taluka, Solapur, Maharashtra (Which also happens to be the director’s birthplace).

As audience, we find ourselves completely absorbed into this quaint village and invested in the lead characters, which precisely is the reason we root them till the film’s last frame. We marvel at the rural cricket match, smile at Parshya’s cute ploys of expressing his love to Archie, laugh at the disability of Langdya in one scene and feel sorry for him in the next, dance with them during their festivities.

A detour here: I spotted a group of teenage girls dancing in the auditorium while the rest of the audience were dancing in their seats. When was the last time you saw this happening in a plush multiplex? Music director duo Ajay-Atul take a bow.

Sairat is India’s first film to have a soundtrack of western classical pieces recorded at Sony Scoring Stage in Hollywood, California, with an orchestra of 66 musicians – including a 45-piece string section, 6-piece woodwind section, 13-piece brass section, 6-piece horn section, and 1 harp. Applause.

Director Nagraj Manjule makes his audience stay invested in his characters so much that one forgets about the burning issues like class discrimination, rich-poor divide, moral policing, and honour killing, which do surface in the film at different points of time. The best part about Sairat is, these issues surface at the moment you least expect them to. A fleeting glance at cops hounding couples by the roadside hints at an uglier truth that lies ahead.

Sairat, at the risk of sounding blasphemous, is a revolution. It is a clarion call to our filmmakers for rising above their ‘camps’ and star trappings. NH 10 chose to show its heroine Anushka Sharma wielding a rod and smoking a ciggie in Bachchan style.

Real-life fight against class divide isn’t such cakewalk, so it’s high time you wake up and smell the coffee, folks. There’s a whole new world of talents out there to explore beyond those Khans, Kapoors, Aliaas, Deepikas and Priyankas.

To sum it up, Sairat is easily one of the best films you’re going to watch this year or perhaps this decade. It mirrors our society and its ugly truth that hatred is equally as powerful as love. Despite being popular for its music, it’s the deafening silence at the end of Sairat which will leave you numb even hours after watching it.

Director Nagraj Manjule, your film’s blood-stained footprints have left their imprints on our hearts. Love stories will no longer remain the same.

PS: A request to the multiplex owners: Please specify if a regional film is with subtitles or without in your ads/emailers/bookmyshow banners so that non-Marathi speaking audience like me can book  tickets without worrying about not understanding the language.

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