Harishchandrachi Factory - Movie Review
This one was no Howard Hughes. But you couldn't argue that this man was any less obsessive-compulsive when he put his mind to it.
Dir: Paresh Mokashi
Cast: Nandu Madhav, Vibhawari Deshpande, Mohit Gokhale
What's it about: This one was no Howard Hughes. But you couldn't argue that this man was any less obsessive-compulsive when he put his mind to it. This is the story of one very determined man named Dhundiraj Govind Phalke. Here was a guy who never lost his love for life, for stories, for imagination or for learning a new trade. And you wonder why nobody had made a film on the father of Indian cinema until now.
The story begins in the nationalist era when leaders like Lokmanya Tilak and others courted prison in defiance to British rule. An enterprising young man, just out of a job (he was a partner in a printing press), his wife and family move to this city. For a short time, he learns a few tricks from a traveling German magician and later on, the art of shooting a film from the British themselves.
He has a patient, loving wife and young yet responsible sons who are as imaginative and full of life as their father. The nosy, meddling neighbours think Dhundiraj has gone mad and try their best to make him see sense.
What's hot: Dhundiraj is played effortlessly by Nandu Madhav. Vibhawari excels as his wife, Saraswati. The supporting cast does a splendid job as well. Acting-wise no complaints. For a Marathi film, this has to be one of the best productions I've seen in the last five years. The props, the costumes and the sentiments are the closest you will come to getting a feel of the era.
What's not: Of course, you find it unbelievable that most Britishers would be as kind to Phalke as the film supposes. His first viewing of a bullfight at a screening in a tent sees him sitting alongside the elite and several Europeans.
There is no visible discrimination shown in the film, something the era was notorious for.
Also, you would have to be a local or watch this with one to get the inside jokes and the satire on the conventions and traditions of the time.
What to do: Mokashi's feel-good film tells you about the man behind the famous name. Of how he fought social ostracisation and ridicule for wanting to follow the simplest, most (seemingly) ludicrous dreams. Mokashi might well be compared (and the comparisons will be a tad too early) to Roberto Benigni. And it really doesn't matter if this film never made it to the Oscar shortlist. Harishchandrachi Factory is a winner from the first reel itself. And long after you've left the theatre too.
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