The Marathi film is a fine example of noble intentions being scuppered by execution.
A guy hailing from a poor background decides to uplift his family by studying religiously. He migrates to a concrete jungle, works day and night, and climbs the ladder of success against all odds. But he doesn’t stop at that. He decides to uplift others as well.
The idea sounds heartwarming, doesn’t it? But director, writer, choreographer Anand aka Anddy’s Gavthi is an example of how such a stirring plot can be narrated in a manner that leaves you unmoved.
The story takes place in a small village called Hattivade. Gajanan (Shrikant Patil), a school student, lives with his father (Kishore Kadam), mother, and younger sister. The father doesn’t want the son to live in poverty like him. So, he urges him to study hard. Gajanan does so and shines in his studies, unlike his two best friends.
Gajanan loves his classmate Gauri (Yogita Chavan). But her father Babanrao (Nagesh Bhonsle) is an evil moneylender who keeps exploiting the poor farmers. He is against their alliance.
Meanwhile, Gajanan gets a chance to migrate to Mumbai for a job. He gets a sour taste of the city right on arrival.
Gavthi revolves around Gajanan from the first scene till the end. And the character goes through a couple of major transformations in the course of the film. So, obviously, in a performance-orientated titular role, you needed someone who could pull off such a difficult character.
To say that Shrikant Patil is miscast will be an understatement. Simply put, he is a non-actor. His expressions are unintentionally hilarious. There is a scene where he is dressed as Krishna, which is just embarrassing. The long journey of his character is also nowhere to be seen in his body language.
However, it is doubtful if a better lead actor would have been able to salvage this film. The story and the narration just do not work. While the makers should be appreciated for wanting to send out a noble message about rural development, the execution is found wanting at many levels, especially the writing.
The first half is simply difficult to sit through. A lot of time is spent in Gajanan and Gauri’s half-baked romance through repetitive scenes. What irks you the most is that the lead pair and their two friends don’t even look like school students. In fact, the two friends seem to be in their thirties! Just imagine such grown-ups seated in a class full of actual school students. It just doesn’t cut it.
As if this incongruity were not enough, there is more. The four are shown to be school students learning languages in the class. At the same time Gajanan is shown studying for a diploma in engineering! Even his promotion in the ranks of his company is astonishing. He joins as an office boy and gets promoted as a junior IT engineer. Next, he becomes vice-president of the company! Who said success isn’t easy?
The only respite comes in the second half in the form of a South Indian idlivendor and a Bihari autorickshaw driver who become Gajanan’s friends. The characters are highly stereotypical and over-the-top. But they at least make the utterly needless length of 153 minutes bearable.
Ajeeth Yuvasamrat’s camerawork is the biggest plus point for the film. There are a number of creative shots that you can’t help but notice. The songs, none of which is memorable, simply add up to the film’s length.
Coming to the rest of the cast, Yogita Chavan is decent and has good screen presence. Kishore Kadam is the best of the lot. The actor has been consistently good over the years. Nagesh Bhonsle as the villain is more like a caricature. The actor is capable of so much more.
The same is the case with Kushal Badrike and three other friends of the protagonist. Pankaj Vishnu, known for his acts in Marathi television shows, isn’t bad as Gajanan’s boss.