COME FALL IN LOVE…AGAIN AND AGAIN!
I’ve always believed that Marathi cinema is miles ahead of its big brother in terms of content and performances, and displays the courage to tackle diverse subjects without shying from the truth. Often, what keeps it from attaining heights of cinematic greatness is the paucity of funds resulting in inconsistent visual appeal. Some directors work in television and make movies at the same time and their framing techniques and use of spaces are often the same for both media. Satish Rajwade is one such filmmaker, full of ideas about relationships and their quirks, gently tickling the funny bone while addressing nuances of contemporary urban life without seeming preachy.
With Premachi Goshta he zooms in on the changing nature of love and marriage, which have largely escaped the tradition-bound Hindi industry. Modern marriages aren't about the everlasting union of two families, but a negotiable contract between individuals from which either is free to walk away for reasons of their choosing. Ram (Atul Kulkarni, an unexpected but excellent choice) and Ragini (Sulekha Talwalkar), for instance, are in the divorce court for reasons both are yet to fully comprehend. Ragini only knows that they weren’t meant for each other, while Ram believes marriage needs to be chiseled into shape and giving up on people isn't an option. Already you can see that their worldviews are different. In the old days this would perhaps have been a topic of discussion or debate, but not just cause for divorce.
Today, men and women have less time and patience for relationships. Many couples have no kids or parents to hold the marriage together. A parent, if living with their offspring, like Ram's mother (Rohini Hattangadi), also doesn't attach a stigma to divorce. In fact, she tells her son it's better to call it quits than fester in a bad relationship.
Sonal (Sagarika Ghatge) is in the divorce courts the second time round. She unapologetically mouths the adage you see bandied around a lot these days––'you can either choose to be married, or to be happy', thus identifying marriage as the cause of long term suffering. Hindi cinema has stopped short of saying this too––why else would so many spirited young women want to enjoy the days and weeks leading up to their impending wedding with fatalistic abandon?
But the writer-director also knows that people still need love and companionship. A divorce, in that sense, isn't actually an end, but the chance to make new beginnings as Ram and Sonal do...
Rajwade plots his film very simplistically. The protagonists must meet and through their evolving relationship he examines the attitudes of young and middle-aged people pursuing careers of their choice––in this case, both are writers although she originally signs up only to be his secretary. The set-up is contrived and the backdrop predictably unimpressive (both Ram's house and office look like TV serial sets).
There is minimal interaction with the world outside, barring his mother, their soon-to-be-ex spouses and one friend each, all of whom are only there to service the love story. Which isn’t a bad thing, because it speaks of changing societal equations––the absence of family bondage, the unconditional support of friends, and individuals functioning as free agents empowered to make choices guiltlessly.
This non-judgmental tone is refreshing. Nobody around them considers their ability to fall in and out of love as fickle or unnatural. None of the wishy-washy "hum ek baar jeete hain, ek baar marte hain aur pyaar bhi ek hee baar karte hain" nonsense that Bollywood clings to for dear life. All of us know it's not true. So why don't we just drop the pretence?