Nagraj Manjule‘s ‘Sairat‘ opened to an explosive response from the Indian audiences. The film is already the greatest economic success a Marathi film has witnessed, in history. But why do we hear Bollywood and Sairat in one sentence? Well, it’s mostly for the positive reasons.
A number of journalists, film writers, film makers among others, are of the opinion that Bollywood must be afraid, watchful and must learn from films like Sairat. Does that really add up though? Does an industry, preoccupied with star obsession, actually care about realism? It’s hard to believe. But there are a number of reasons why Bollywood has been warned, by the film itself and the audience behind it.
Sairat is a powerful love story. Probably one of the most powerful ones to come out of India in many many years. Why is that significant? Simply because we make countless love stories every year. A love story is the back bone of every second plot that either works or doesn’t in India.
So yes, a small film like Sairat still manages to come out on top, with most others barely in sight.
A 3 hour film with the second half barely lasting 40 odd minutes, Manjule breaks rules at his will. The unknown faces of Rinku Rajguru and Akash Thosar lead the film through it’s vivid and energetic plot. Ajay Atul’s music thumps the film ahead and is key to the level of energy it manages to maintain.
Coming to the story, we have heard about the plot surrounding a young man and a young woman who fall in love, wish to marry but are stopped by their families time and again in Bollywood films. Go back to all those films that come to your mind when you read the sentence above and ask yourself how different they were from each other. Does anything ring a bell? Most of these films follow a formulaic pattern that conveniently escapes innumerable aspects of realism. How can we say these aspects are escaped? Well, open a newspaper! See what goes on in this country and in the rest of the World, then go back and see how often we are told things the way they are. Very very rarely.
Manjule uses a plot of a young boy and a young girl, who fall in love, but the humungous power, influence, financial and political difference brought out by the differences in caste and class, act as an impenetrable barrier for their intentions. He does not spare you the entertainment. The characters, dialogues and most of the set ups are written in the most exciting and thrilling ways possible. Some scenes will make you laugh out loud. Most of these scenes encourage such reactions solely because a large section of the audiences are not used to watching real characters based on people who we see around us. We are usually either exposed to such characters when they are inconsequential to the particular story (peasants, labourers, farmers etc) OR we watch the biggest of stars with all the baggage of stardom they carry (such as Amir Khan in Lagaan) playing such characters. It is not about good and bad, it is what we are. It is what Bollywood is.
Film makers like Manjule bring actors who look, feel and can be perceived as the real characters. They give an impetus to the level of brilliance for each of those scenes.
What will we get by alarming Bollywood about the success of Sairat?
Not much. Stars rule Bollywood. Currently, it’s about money. How much X film made this weekend? How much Y film made in a particular state? From taxi drivers to children, every body has started opining about ‘100 crore club’ and how much a film made over it’s opening weekend, without having the slightest idea about gross and net.
At most, stars, producers, directors will make a trip to the theatre and tweet about Sairat and speak about how flawless and brilliant it was.
The kind of Bollywood love stories released year in year out have not changed much over the decade. Every new star or star kid who comes out plays the same kind of role. It’s hard to expect a film like Sairat to come out of Bollywood. If you want a task, look up Imran Khan and try to distinguish between the characters he played (other than basics such as profession) in the love stories he’s been a part of (almost all his films)
That is the story of Bollywood.
The film is a Marathi gem. We must be proud of the kind of success it has achieved. Having followed Natsamrat, Court, Killa, Fandry and many such Marathi films, regional cinema has begun it’s own movement. Rather than being delusional about such works coming out of Bollywood, which looks as unlikely as you can imagine, it’s best to just watch and support. Word of mouth played a big role in spreading awareness about Sairat. Commercial Bollywood films bring more money into the industry and hence support the smaller films. In any sense, every film industry has it’s own commercial wing. The smaller film makers have only wanted to co exist.
Nagraj Manjule’s Sairat thwarted everything else, made it’s place, stood it’s ground and became a movement by itself.
As of now, the film is still in theatres, so if you haven’t watched it yet, make sure you do!