Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bal Gandharv, Natrang and questions

These days, people seem to take extreme views about any movie they see. Hate or Like. Hardly we (maybe just I) get to hear any opinion that lies in the middle, or tending towards either side. Is it because movies are made such or is it because people are just being opinionated or rather lazy? Anyway, that is not the point of this post.

This piece of comment was shared with me regarding the Marathi movie Bal Gandharva“I heard they have shown the negative side of Bal Gandharva in the second half of the movie.”

Another comment I heard was, “Subodh Bhave (the actor who brilliantly portrays Bal Gandharva) is known to play negative roles, can people accept him otherwise?”

The negative side that is faintly alluded to in the first comment (and is entirely debatable) is the character keeping relationships outside marriage. I would not like to touch upon the second comment.

Are we as a collective audience, mature enough to see these movies as an Art / Creation rather than just a biopic or movie? What do you say?

This is not a review of Bal Gandharva, it’s been done quite a bit by a lot of people. The Internet will lead you to laurels and brick-bats about this movie.

I loved the movie. The actor got well moulded into the great giant character and carried it off with a finesse that can be squeezed in about 3 hours. I especially liked the way the story was presented. It was carried out from the Point of View of the characters surrounding the Protagonist. This POV direction was the best part of the movie. It was like a dedication to the central character, by the people around him. The sets are good. The art direction and costumes are good. There is light humour that can be well appreciated. The pace is good enough for a ~ 3-hour movie yet slow enough to keep you interested. I even liked the small role played by Prachiti Mhatre as Gohar Jaan. Her expressions in one of the songs was really amazing. (This review says otherwise.) Overall, it is a good movie that interests you the about the art Natya Sangeet, talks a little bit about the history of this art form and some of the Giants who gave up their lives towards the art form. For a lot of people who have lost connection with their roots because of whatever reasons, this movie does inform of a lot of the forgotten history.

The movie reminded me of another awesome Marathi movie Natrang (directed by Ravi Jadhav, who directed Bal Gandharv too. An article here), a story of a man who dedicated his life and a lot of other things to another art form Lavani. Somehow while watching Bal Gandharv, I started thinking about this one scene from Natrang where the actor, fully clothed in a King’s costume, is standing in the rain and crying. Clearly, one of the most poignant scenes from the movie. Natrang is a lovely Marathi movie of late, about an artist and the art within him and around him.

I am sure a lot of people found Natrang offensive too. Especially the lot that negatively judges a movie based on one or two scenes arguing about moralities.

Moralities! When will we learn to accept that the world is not just black and white? The world will be more peaceful if we accept the greyness and some other things that are inherent and cannot be changed.

It is ok to form opinions, but it’s a good idea to be open to other ideas as well.


A family comes out of the theater after watching Bal Gandharv. The parents are all happy to have succeeded in pulling their reluctant kids along to see a movie about the history of music and a certain art form called Natya Sangeet. Parents keep telling the kids about how great Bal Gandharv was, how great his dedication was and all.

What if the Parents go ahead and enroll the kids for the summer cricket camps just because a lot of people in the society have done the same? What if they scold their kid who loves to read comic books because they are not actual books? What if they just don’t want their kid to grow up and go against their family just like Bal Gandharv just because it was always the Art first?

Some questions are better left unanswered. The questions themselves are scary.


I have left many open ends in this post. I hope to tackle them slowly and steadily.


prachi Mujumdar said...

Of course! entirely agree with you! Moralities are nothing but a manifestation of conditioning that the society has on us.
And about the movie yes it was an okies-tokies one.... :)

Nik said...

Nice post! I also saw some reluctant teenagers and my sis who is 19 was like "What is Bal Gandharva?". For the record : "I still love comic books aka Graphic Novels"

k said...

Prachi - I believe we think too much of the society and more about what the society thinks of us. We are always keen to make a place in the society and attract attention and then respect. Sometimes, our opinions are just following the larger crowd or just opposing the majority to stand apart. We are just a confused mass!

Nik - I liked your 'For the record' statement. I wish we all look towards making earth a better place.

sevakram said...

Great post !

Here's my take -

Diversity in nature itself is a manifestation of diverse opinions human beings can make.
Some will be extremes, some not-so extremes and some neutrals :-)
(E.g. just ask this question to a set of 10 unrelated friends - will you take tea or coffee?)

Some will have their own opinions, some will follow the crowd and some will have no opinion at all. Some will fight for their opinions and some will 'adjust'!

Even our dumb PC-screen can represent 256 shades of any color - from extreme dark to extreme lights. Just imagine what diversity this wild nature has it in for us.

Simply put, we have no capability to control (or perhaps even comment on) the diversity in human minds, and hence their opinions :-)

While I agree that any form of art should be appreciated (given the hard work and intelligence involved in creating it), it cannot be, and will not be appreciated, unless it resonates with the minds of audience. (In the context of taking reluctant teens to watch this movie.)

Well, personally, I am yet to see this movie (Bal Gandharva) and have become more than willing after reading your post !

k said...

Thanks for dropping by Sevakram. I agree with what you have said here. I was more interested to focus on the individual perspective when it looks at a mass and then decides how to behave or opine or react.

Diversity is good for the human evolution (mind and body) and beneficial for human interactions. If art is well appreciated, it does mean that it resonates. But if one stays away from everything or just approaches everything with a restricted mindset (maybe because of the inclination towards forming opinions based on others' perspective or the follow-the-sheep phenomenon) then art is just something that happens in the parallel/lateral world.

Maybe we are all growing up. Maybe some (like me) need to grow up more.

I would like to know your view on the movie. Specially when I have heard a lot of people throwing brickbats at the movie.