Star Cast: Umesh Kamat, Neha Pendse, Prasad Oak, Supriya Pathare, Pushkar Shrotri, Anand Ingale
Director: Atul Kale
What’s Good: Almost nothing
What’s Bad: With a film aimed to pay a tribute to political legend Balasaheb Thackeray, what is served is a re-fabricated version of Me Shivaji Raje Bhonsale Boltoy and Lage Raho Munnabhai’s mixture. An underdeveloped plot that thrives on only one point ‘Being Marathi’.
Loo break: Take as many as you can!
Watch or Not?: I would not recommend this film to anyone other than those who are smitten by Bal Thackeray’s ideals and truly miss his charismatic voice. The problem with Balkadu is its repetitive nature of content which has been dealt with before too in Marathi films.
The film starts with a rattled Balkrishna (Umesh Kamat) who visits a shrink because of his new found mental problem of hearing voices of various freedom fighters and amongst them, the most familiar voice being of Shivsena Chief Balasaheb Thackeray. Being a history teacher at a Mumbai school, it seems his teachings overpower his mind. This Marathi Manoos like many Mumbaikars is of the opinion that Mumbai belongs to Maharashtrians and when he starts to hear Balasaheb’s voice this side of him becomes violent enough to raise questions in society.
Balkadu Review: Script Analysis
After spending an evening watching Akshay Kumar starrer Baby, this morning was Balkadu. What could have been similar among these two films is their ‘Indian’ nature while one celebrating a tribute to India’s well-known political figure Balasaheb Thackeray and other a tribute to India’s daredevil defense officers but unfortunately the two turn out stark opposites. While Baby made proud and patriotic yesterday, Balkadu brought me back to the realities of our graver internal problems let alone the outer terror issues shown in Baby.
Well, what I would have loved to see was a film based on the life of Balasaheb in its true sense, mapping his journey from being a cartoonist to becoming one of the most influential political figures of Maharashtra. The movie is just a replica of ‘Me Shivaji Raje Bhonsale Boltoy‘, only this time it is Balasaheb who directs a common man to realize the Marathi Manoos problems and not Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The film’s content is highly regressive and subtly, it seems as though the film justifies the use of violence against other communities citing the cause of Maharashtrian rights. What should have been a film promoting some virtues, this one is straight on the face propagandist content. There are some disturbing instances in the film which seem to be direct attempts at playing the cast card and agitating non-Maharasthtrians. The mention of other communities taking over Mumbai which according to the film’s script belongs to Maharasthrians is hammered time and again in the film and it is quite offensive, in spite of being a Maharastrian for me too.
Balkadu Review: Star Performances
Umesh Kamat is otherwise a good actor but does nothing extraordinary in this film. He in fact in certain scenes overdoes his ‘innocent, dumb’ looks in the first half and his sudden change into becoming a preacher is not very smooth.
Neha Pendse is the lead actress in the film and she does nothing but strut around wearing stylish clothes and calling herself an ‘EP’ (Executive Producer).
The true hero of the film is the voice over of Bal Thackeray which is enough to give a Marathi Manoos goosebumps.
Balkadu Review: Direction, Editing and Screenplay
Balkadu in its presentation itself lacks the quality to present an already average content. The whole presentation of Bal Thackeray’s posters and pictures with the voiceover was highly unimpressive. The fact that the script in itself was weak, there is little that Kale could have done to make this film work. The stress on Marathi vs other communities is a regressive thought that in its first place should not be promoted. Of course since the story at hand is related to Mumbai, the shooting is very much from the city and with the constant impression of Hindutva, the film maker places Thackeray’s photos almost everywhere in the streets and even includes him as a figure next to Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi which is quite a big and bold step.
Going by the latest trend in movies where a panel discussion sorts out all the problems (remember OMG! Oh My God, Chillar Party), this one too does the same. Overall a very amateurish direction, sadly the director doesn’t even get the only action scene in the film right thanks to a lot of ham acting.
Balkadu Review: The Last Word
The film made me highly uncomfortable with its pro-marathi nature. Even though I agree that Bal Thackeray’s contribution to Maharashtra has been immense but there could have been a better way to pay him a tribute. Other than enjoying his cartoons at the start of the film, there is nothing that wooed me. I am going with a 1/5 star for the attempt!
Balkadu releases on 23rd January, 2015.
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