|'Langar' hits out at blind faith
Time has changed and reforms are welcomed. But, still customary practices with blind faith, are followed in some villages in our country. Produced by Niharika Sunil Phadtare and directed by Sandeep Manohar Navare, new Marathi film 'Langar' throws light on injustice to children from a particular community in a village, where parents offer their children to God, just to keep their vows to God. One such girl Malan who is studying in school, is offered by her father (Vinay Apte) to the service of God, much against the wish of her mother (Kishori Shahane Vij), after she attains puberty.
Malan is taken away by her maternal uncle Jagan (Ravi Kale), who is himself deserted by his parents to the service of God. Deeply hurt, Malan soon forgets her family and joins the group of her uncle, aunty and others, to perform at religious functions with their folk performances entertaining the families. Men in this group are called Vaghya and women folks are called Murali. So, when Malan grows up, she is identified as 'Murali' and has no right to marry, as she is offered to the God in marriage.
But, when Malan meets Yashwant (Pankaj Vishnu), he proposes to her and promises to marry her soon. Malan crosses her limits against the wish of her uncle. Yashwant, who goes to city for some legal case, fails to return. Even her Uncle proceeds to other villages in search of work. When the uncle returns, he is criticized by the villagers and unable to bear the insults, he disappears one day. Yashwant does return back after six months; but, Malan refuses to marry him and drives him back. She takes over the business of her uncle and gives birth to her child. At the end of the film, which is actually the beginning, Malan is honoured by a Social activist, at a function held in a village, to boost her bold decision.
The film does pass a social message and hits out at blind faith and such customary practice. The effort of the film maker is sincere, capturing the right locations to create an impact. But, there is not much of opposition shown in the film, faced by the leading lady. Except for the reaction of her uncle and exchange of words with a local stone crushing contractor (Milind Shinde) who insults her; she doesn’t face much humiliation from the community. In fact, Jagan’s associates stand behind her. The character of Malan's father though selfish, does not look realistic in some of the scenes, with his changing attitude. The same is the case with her brother Sagar's character, who does not react, during reunion with his sister after several years.
It is also not clear, as to why the Uncle takes so long (almost few months) to return from his surrounding village trip, to discover that Malan is pregnant . Also there is no convincing explanation, as to why Yashwant returned after so many months. Moreover, when he is ready to marry Malan and accepts her would be child as his own child, why she refuses to marry him. Such incidences goes on to show that there wasn’t much sacrifice; but Malan repenting on her own mistake to trust a man of her choice. In fact, she is not left all alone; but, finds good helpful family of Jagan to support her.
In this film, Ravi Kale has come out with another superb performance in the role of Jagan. Kishori Shahane Vij does a good job through her emotion filled mother's role. In the role of Malan, Manva Naik finds a better role for a change, to display variety through her acting and accent. Pankaj Vishnu is just fine in that limited role and so is veteran actor Vinay Apte in father's role, though his character is not convincing. Bharat Ganeshpure and Namrata Gaikwad have done a good job, playing the family associates of Jagan. All others in the supporting cast have given their best.
Photography by Surya Mishra is good. He has captured the crowd scenes of devotees very well. Mandar Khare's music is well suited to the theme of this film. 'Langar' is a festival kind of art film and not a mainstream cinema. And hence, those interested in such films and wanting to know the customary practices in villages, may like this film. But, will this film reach the target audience? Let's wait and watch.
by Ulhas Shirke © MMW