Presenter: Iconic Chandrakant Productions Pvt. Ltd.
Producer: Nitin Chandrakant Desai
Director: Ravi Jadhav
Story: Abhiram Bhadkamkar
Music: Kaushal Inamdar
Cinematographer: Mahesh Limaye
Cast: Subodh Bhave, Suhas Joshi, Madhu Kambikar, Kishor Kadam, Avinash Narkar, Sagar Talashikar, Anand Abhyankar, Vibhavari Deshpande, Prachiti Mhatre
Some films are to be seen, some to be enjoyed, but very few films are to be sensed. Nitin Chandrakant Desai's Biopic on 'Balgandharva' is one such masterpiece which is not only a tribute to the legend but is also an experience to peep into the life of the dedicated artiste of yesteryears. At a time when India was under British rule, sometime in early 19th century no females performed on stage. It was during this period that a talented artiste who was groomed since his childhood by Kirloskar Drama Group, played the roles of females and even entertained the theatre audience with his classical songs in gifted voice. Musical plays were very popular those days and the popularity of actor Narayanrao Rajhans took him to the top.
But, as rightly said by Abraham Lincoln, "Avoid popularity if you would have peace." In the life of Narayanrao, there was not much gain or peace though he touched the height of popularity. He devoted his life only for theatre. Spent lavishly on sets and costumes. Director Ravi Jadhav in his little more than 2 hour long film has tried to show how on his way to success, Narayanrao lost the support of his close associates one by one. In the process, he has depicted his strengths and weaknesses. Not many were aware of his interactions with Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur, The Maharaja of Baroda Sayajirao Gaekwad, Annasaheb Kirloskar , Ram Ganesh Gadkari, Baburao Painter and V. Shantaram. From the beginning till end, the director has tried to include all those important incidences, besides having a glance at all those popular musical plays of which he was a part and the classical songs in each one of them rendered by him.
Subodh Bhave in & as Balgandharva What makes this movie larger than life is for creating that era of early 19th century on screen, with perfection. Just look at the costumes of every character and the superb art design, supported by suitable sound effects in the background for every important scene. Watch that scene where the businessman Laxmichand Narang a great admirer of Balgandharva, appreciating him after hearing the news that he had even performed the show even on the day of his daughter's death. Listen to that background sound effect and it gives the feeling that he is really based in Karachi. Watching that outdoor scene when the Moneylender Pathan approaches the team of Balgandharva after the show and you actually sense the sudden arrival of a drizzle.
Marathi theatre is blessed with talented artistes and therefore the film has picked up the right people for the right roles. In the team of Balgandharva's theatre group, we find promising youngsters like Abhijit Kelkar and Siddharth Chandekar dressed up as females, Vibhavari Deshpande playing that emotion filled role of his distressed wife, Suhas Joshi playing a typical old mother of Balgandharva belonging to that era and Kishore Kadam, Vidyadhar Joshi, Avinash Narkar, Rahul Deshpande and others as his stage associates. Greatness shown by some of the artistes like Manoj Joshi as Seth Laxmichand and Madhav Abhyankar as Pant from Bhor Province is that it did not matter for them how big was their role. Same was the case with Smita Shewale and Vishakha Subhedar . They hardly have one scene but they both were all smiles for being part of this mega film. Surprisingly the producer and art director also played that small but important character of Lokmanya Tilak, as an admirer of Balgandharva.
Three more persons who add luster to the film are Singer Anand Bhate, Music composer kaushal Inamdar and cinematographer Mahesh Limaye.
If one has to find faults, there will be very few; but looking at the sincerity of the producer and director besides the artistes it nullifies them in that effective screenplay of the film.