Sunday, June 01, 2014

आजचा दिवस माझा

Most of the times we blame our Government. Sometimes we praise it. But almost never do we care to understand it. This movie provides an interesting insight into the functioning of the Chief Minister's office and the bureaucracy under it.

An organization moves in the resultant direction and speed of all its employees. Sometimes that means no movement at all when everyone is trying to force a different direction. But when these motions align, you can see a slumbering elephant suddenly transformed into a galloping stallion. This movie depicts such a day (or should I say night) when the stars aligned. Can the will of one man, even if he is the top office bearer in the State, cause such a transformation? Perhaps. But it is not easy.

There have been enough movies that have romanticized politics (like Nayak and the idiotically stupid Ranjhanna). But Chandrakant Kulkarni has managed to keep this movie well grounded. Sachin Khededar as CM Vishwasrao Mohite has given a powerhouse performance. He has never gone overboard and maintained perfect composure. He has been able to show the cunning politician as well as the kind-hearted leader with equal finesse. Since his character is what causes the whole plot in the first place, it was quiet critical that it was done right. And it has been. 

Mahesh Manjrekar has given a subdued but decent performance as a senior IAS officer. The feeling of superiority (we basically run this nation), the arrogance towards subordinates, the reluctant and false respect for superiors and the overall culture of mutual gain is brought out nicely through his character. Though in the end, when his daughter refuses to marry a 'boring' new IAS recruit, he realizes that he does not posses real power. And we realize that when it is time to do something good, such types are of no use.

But the best part for me was played out by Hrishikesh Joshi as the CMs private secretory. There is a phone call where he explains to his kid, who has just passed with flying colors, why he cannot come home till the job is done. That alone made it worth the while.

Now for the criticisms. First and foremost, the titles were horrible. A kid in 10th grade can come up with better graphics now-a-days. There was no creativity and no effort in it. It just puts you off right at the beginning (I was on a flight with nothing better to do so I carried on).

Second is the comedy. I am sick and tired of comedy in Marathi movies now. It is the same kind of physical, screaming and retake genre which the likes of Ashok Saraf, Lakshya and Sudhir Joshi had pioneered. Yes it was fun and they were good at it. But it is time to move on now. We need to find some real humor. Frankly, this movie would have been much better without all its comedy sequences. Also without scenes which were designed to bring out a particular message. Most of the time they feel childish. The expression should flow effortlessly from the conversation. If it does not then let it be. There is no point in engineering the dialog to achieve the desired result.

The third criticism is about plot itself. It is based on the allotment of flats to renowned artists from a quota. This is a legacy of the times when we were ruled by Kings who used to provide Rajashrya. It does not make sense in a democracy. And it is the exact type of arbitrary patronage that leads to corruption and dysfunctional use of government resources.

One of the final scenes has a somewhat direct confrontation between the CM and his IAS officer. It plays out well. The elected representatives should decide the priorities. What is important and what needs to be done now. The officers need to execute on those priorities in accordance with proper procedure. Khedekar quotes the late Maharashtra CM Yashwantrao Chavan's words that the ministers need to say 'No' more often and the bureaucrats need to say 'Yes' more often.

Given the current political climate there are bound to be a lot more movies with similar theme. But most will be hero worship style and would miss the point of being in governance completely.

[Photos courtesy:]