Koimoi Recommends Picasso: “All the world is a stage,” said the master author William Shakespeare one day. No one knows if it was just pointed towards an art form, or he was talking about life in general. Maybe he meant our life is a performance, and people around us our audience. Drama and dramatics don’t leave us even in real life, and that our existence in itself is a three-act play.
Picasso, a Marathi film is about art, about hope, about the zest to bounce and attain success, but at the top of it, it is about an artist trying to make ends meet. Today on Koimoi Recommends, I recommend you this Prasad Oak starrer that will, if not make you cry, will at least educate you about an art form, which isn’t dead but not even deservingly alive.
Director: Abhijeet Mohan Warang
Language: Marathi (with subtitles)
Available On: Amazon Prime Video
Picasso isn’t a story told to revolutionise the world. It is about a boy Gandharva (Samay Tambe), selected for the National level of the Picasso Arts Scholarship. He has to pay Rs 1500 as an entry fee for the exam. He approaches his father, Pandhurang (Prasad Oak), a Dashavatar artist, a sculptor and a painter. Making money out of dying art, the artist earns just enough to have bread twice a day, and any extra expense is a matter of stress. Amid this is his wife, who has to do a sonography to know what’s causing her pain.
Picasso isn’t some revolutionary, universal, or for the greater good subject. It is about a day in the lives of a family who have got to earn money to cope up with the added expenses that have come their way. The film, written and directed by Abhijeet Mohan Warang, is self-aware and vocal about being a tribute to an art form Dashavatar, practised in South of Konkan – where the film is shot, now that’s some level of authenticity.
For all the Marathi folks, this is a universe we have in some, or the other way lived in. Maybe privileged, maybe not, but every time you achieved something, your ‘aai’ did say “Deva Kade Sakhar Thev (offer something sweet (sugar) to God”. That’s how personal Picasso is in its approach. The family has real problems, and all of this depends on an art form that is still practised by lakhs but has no government recognition.
Of course, Gandharva’s plight to participate in the National level competition gets its screen time. His struggle to break the glass ceiling is silent. He never lets his dismay come out in the form of anger. He is calm and poised even when his father denies it. He is a seventh-grade kid but matured enough to realise the condition. Samay Tambe’s constant silence and an almost transparent gaze pierce every single time the camera takes a close shot.
That doesn’t mean the art form doesn’t get what it deserves in Picasso. There is a thing about acting like an actor in a film. A film inside a film, to put it simply. Dashavatar is almost a street play that tells the stories of Lord Vishnu. Prasad Oak plays the King. He is acting like an actor. It isn’t the most polished artform, but it is a culture that is still breathing where it was initiated. The film makes a commentary on how once the group performing the art was glorious but now has to strive on patronage.
The audience is live, and the emotions have to be perfect in a single go. The makeup is overdone for every artist. Men are dressed as women, and performances are disrupted by the audience giving patronage. But you don’t complain, because that is how this show works. There is politics within the art, people trying to pull the other down, and all of this comprises the second half, which only has the actors acting ling actors in the play, and it is immaculate.
Picasso is self-indulgent and personal also because of the stillness of the camera. DOP Stanley Mudda makes sure his lens only moves when needed. He places the camera between the audience when the Dashavatar is performed, giving you a feel that you are one amid the audience. You aren’t someone watching this story from the comfort of your homes, but living it with and like these people who are clapping for an actor, a father who is performing from his heart.
Picasso is a simple tale and one that is told with a very personal gaze. There is no need to change the world; let’s face it one day at a time. The conclusion doesn’t need to be earth-shattering; it can be just enough to satisfy the needs, and still, look beautiful. Watch the film for amazing actor, a heartwarming story, and an art form that has struggled enough and partially successfully to stay alive.