Think of a road trip and you’ll imagine a long-distance journey undertaken by a group of jolly folks in an automobile. But sometimes what happens is you can’t afford a vehicle and are thus left at the mercy of your legs. Such road trips are bound to turn harsher with every passing hour. This is precisely what one can expect from '72 Miles - Ek Pravas'. Raw and heartbreaking at times, this Marathi endeavour takes you on a walk. There are instances where you might wish it was running for a change but the slow dialogue-soaked moments eventually stay with you.
From the director of the much-acclaimed 'Jogwa' (2009), his latest venture is set in the ’60s and based on real-life events. The protagonist is a thin little boy who is harassed by almost everyone he comes in contact with. Unable to cope with this gross mistreatment, he decides to run away from his boarding school. The kid can’t wait to get back to his home in Kolhapur but doesn’t have the financial means to make the transit. As a result, he ends up on the road.
Needless to mention, trouble can’t be far away. For good or for worse, he bumps into strangers — some warm-hearted and some, plain evil — each providing not only a touch of adventure but also a dose of what life actually is in their own distinct way.
Except for few initial indoor scenes, the entire movie is shot on and around proper concrete minus the nihilistic thrills. In this particular context, whoever said that journey matters more than the destination was lying. At least to the characters in this honest film. On top of that, the weather keeps varying from rainy to sunny to chilly while the characters can’t help but remain the way they are — vulnerable, poor and basically hopeless. By the time the credits roll, it’s difficult to pinpoint the protagonist.
A majority of the dialogues — delivered in rustic Marathi — are profound as well as hard-hitting. Along with them, some scenes do make you wonder why this film was granted a ‘U’ certificate. Cinematography is crackling at points though. Add to it a haunting background score that is more of an incantation to build up tension. It works perfectly in sync with trepidation. On the other hand, the jatra-like song-dance sequences are perhaps the only clichés — along with some whimsical subplots — director Rajiv Patil seems to adhere to.
As far as the onscreen act is concerned, the casting is bang on. Smita Tambe is simply remarkable in one of the strongest female performances in recent times. Her inch-perfect portrayal of a sacrificing woman who knows right from wrong leaves a mark. Chinmay Sant as the young runaway does very little other than convey a bruised childhood. On the other hand, Chinmay Kambli displays sparks of promise.
At about 90 minutes, this particular vernacular effort is worth an experience. The language may elude you but the emotions won’t.