Date: 24 June 2016
Director: Shekhar Sartandel
Cast: Mangesh Desai, Vidya Balan
Rating: 3 stars
There are innumerable ways of presenting a biopic. Writer director Shekhar Sartandel chooses to tell it from the horse’s mouth, so we have actor Mangesh Desai playing Master Bhagwan recounting his story of struggle in show business.
Starting in British India time, Bhagwan and his friends are influenced by Mahatma Gandhi but clearly directionless. His passion for cinema dares him to jump across the studio wall to watch film shooting and unwittingly becomes a part of the cinema world.
The film traces Bhagwan’s journey from Silent cinema to Talkies, his bitter sweet encounters and evolution from a small time actor to a stunt filmmaker who has ambitions of producing a social drama with a superstar.
Writer Amol Shetge aided by cinematographer Uday Devare and art director Baban Adagale succeed in reviving a time and culture gone by. What works about the story are the real incidents and people because for a change, they underline that this is not a work of fiction.
The pace is languid but we are talking about the 30s and the 40s when trolleys lingered and the audience had patience. The director has cleverly focused on the making of a legend and steered clear of his decline and his tragic end.
Watch Ekk Albela for documenting history, for the melody and for the mesmerising Vidya Balan (super costumes and makeup). You cannot look at anything else when Balan is on the screen. This is a visual experience that breaks language barriers. The characters communicate in language (Hindi/ Marathi/Gujrati) they are comfortable in and everybody understands.