Star Cast: Amruta Khanvilkar, Addinath Kothare, Mrunmayee Despande, Mohan Agashe, Sameer Choughule, and ensemble.
Director: Prasad Oak
What’s Good: Amruta Khanvilkar’s hard work and her expressive eyes. Ajay-Atul’s rooted tribute to the Marathi folk that is being forgotten by the majority.
What’s Bad: The second half only messes up and scatters things to be never sorted out leading to an unsatisfying stretched climax.
Loo Break: In the second half, because the first has some good drama-packed and also my favourite ‘Bai Ga’.
Watch or Not?: Watch it for the unique experience that comes with the folk dance form (Lavani) brings to the table. Watch it to see Amruta’s potential as an actor.
Language: Marathi (with subtitles).
Available On: In Theatres Near You!
Runtime: 164 Minutes.
A righteous politician Daulat (Addinath) one day happens to land on a courtesan’s doors. She begins singing as soon as he is about to leave and he is left enthralled. Falling in love with Chandramukhi (Amruta), he forgets he already has a family back home and when he realises the drama begins.
Chandramukhi Movie Review: Script Analysis
A very few filmmakers, not just in Marathi but pan-India, are taking the effort to restore and present authentic culture and its glory for and to the audience. Prasad Oak makes an earnest attempt with his team at creating Chandramukhi as a tribute to the rich culture of Lavani and the poetry that comes with it. There is an aching heart, not just that of a lover but an artist whose shine is long forgotten and now she is forced to almost sell her body. Also, hats off to the team for promoting the movie and letting the world know that the Marathi industry is also walking with them.
Screenplay written by Chinmay Mandlekar, Chandramukhi is a perfect formula to make a movie deep-rooted in culture with a centerpiece of a love story that not just challenges the norms of society, but is also unsure in itself. His name is Daulat, he represents the power in the dynamic, but in a parallel life, he is also dependent on the charity of his father-in-law. She is Chandramukhi, one with a moon-like face, beautiful yet with a metaphoric mark (daag). Together they are powerful, but also vulnerable and fickle. Add to this Ajay-Atul’s breathing music and you have a product that will pull audience towards it.
The movie even manages to create the effect of a love story that is doomed and is sure to face tragic roads soon enough. They meet in a brothel where the woman of his dreams has kept herself safe from the Predators. The writing around this love story is delicate. These are two humans who are feeling love maybe for the first time. Their hearts are poetic, though one recites the poem of pain and other of love, they complete each other. Everytime the camera shifts to the brothel it instantly takes the poetic gaze and is the best part about the movie.
But when the camera moves out of Chandramukhi’s den, the poetry is lost. And this is where the problem begins. Looking at the set up one could easily suspend their disbelief, but when you aren’t making it clear which era it is and then add elements from different decades in one it all becomes heavy to process. Add to this the missing poetry from the scenes that only have Daulat. Because every time he is inside Chandra’s court it is his heaven and you can’t question its whereabouts, but the real-world needs to be edged out and created with even more delicateness. Everything becomes one tone and ends up diluting the flavour the film begins with.
The second half messes things even more. A film that could easily be at least 20 minutes shorter, Chandramukhi after a point goes on and on without a purpose. A forced conflict and a scattered disaster management scene later the climax looks half baked and disconnected from everything. The tonality changes so fast that you cannot keep in sync with it.
Credit where it’s due, dialogues by Chinmay in Chandramukhi are mature. Metaphors are piercing and the words describing them make sure they hit you at the right spot. My personal favourite is the Madame of the brothel saying, “Dev hatavar thuktoy bolla tar tyala olya mendi cha kautuk nhi dakhvava.” There are many such and they are a treat.
Chandramukhi Movie Review: Star Performance
Amruta Khanvilkar is an actor who can do amazing work if given a good director. With a film on her shoulders, she manages to have the depth in her eyes and pain in her demeanour. She is exploited, looked at with a bad gaze, and even tried to be sold. So when a man appreciates her voice and not her beauty, she cannot help but fall for him. I cannot forget her dancing on Bai Ga. She talks about her love for Daulat and Khanvilkar makes sure you feel it with her expressions. There is scope for improvement, but the actor has come a long way. Her dancing skills need no validation from anyone.
Addinath Kothare does a decent job at being a man confused between love, home and power. His character speaks less and emotes more majorly and the actor tries hard he does that. But have to accept that he does fall flat in front of Amruta and Sameer Choughule couple of times.
Mrunmayee Despande gets to play the pained wife who has learned about her husband’sectra marital affair. It’s a character she can cakewalk and she does. Choughule is a complete package. Such a fun and seasoned actor to witness.
Chandramukhi Movie Review: Direction, Music
Prasad Oak’s direction is very visual and he knows how to create frames. He knows which scenes will manipulate emotions and what is to be catered to whom. But he forgets he can’t make everyone happy and tries to do exactly that. He kind of stuffs Chandramukhi with something for everyone. This ends up blurring out the main purpose. While his focus is on the story and the folk, he goes extra mile to announce that he wants people to be aware about Lavani, which looks like he is spoon-feeding his viewers.
Ajay-Atul create an album that is rooted in the story and folk and doesn’t really follow their USP structure. I can talk about Bai Ga for hours and that is my most favourite from this album. Can we take a moment to appreciate Ashish Patil & Dipali Vichare for the authenticity they bring to their respective choreographies.
But the music videos of the said songs are killed by the editing and camera movement. Can DOP Sanjay Memane’s camera stay still and let us Marvel at Khanvilkar’s amazing dancing talent? At least Bai Ga has some therav because it demands, but the title track is butchered by sharp cuts and hammy effects. Refer to Bhansali shooting one of his dance numbers and compare it with Chandra music video, you will know. Also, the idea of releasing entire music videos beforehand wasn’t a good decision, there wasn’t much of a surprise element I expect from an Ajay-Atul musical.
Chandramukhi Movie Review: The Last Word
She calls him her Krishna, he calls her Goddess of her own temple, I wish that same poetry stayed alive throughout making the aching heart beat clearer. The extra half star is for the earnest effort. You can watch Chandramukhi in theatres near you.
Chandramukhi releases on 29th April, 2022.
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