I am a die hard fan of Paresh Mokashi. I simply loved 'Harishchandrachi Factory' which was a movie I gifted to a whole lot of my friends - DVDs. Then I saw this movie 'Elizabeth Ekadashi' last week and it's so cute that I don’t want to share it with anyone else. (Not really.) But seriously these two movies easily make it to the top 20 movies I have seen in my life. Not to forget Paresh's wife Madhugandha Kulkarni for scripting such a brilliant story and producing it. It's so Iranian in its treatment and simplicity.
Elizabeth Ekadashi has all the makings of a Little Manhattan and some more. Elizabeth is a cycle (the yellow one in the picture), a fancy one, made by a scientifically oriented man who puts pictures of Newton and Einstein with the gods in his house. But he leaves his young family and passes on to the other world (reasons unknown and not relevant). His two children, a ten year old Dhyaneshwar (holding the cycle in the pic), and his eight year old sister Mukata alias Zendu, love Elizabeth to death. Dhyanesh cannot even ride the cycle but insists on taking it along with him to the bazaar. His young mother is trying to make ends meet by knitting sweaters on a machine loaned from a bank and his grandmother (father's mother) is recovering from some eye problems. Dhyanesh is a simple and smart soul and has some spiritual leanings as shown in his spiritual outbursts laced with some pragmatic and scientific advise to admiring adults. But he also trusts everyone – like the foul mouthed Ganesh (seen in the picture before the bike) who is his best friend. His other friends include a son of a prostitute that no one befriends.
When the bank officers seize the knitting machine for nonpayment of dues, Dhyanesh realizes that his mother might sell off Elizabeth to pay off the loan and get their source of livelihood back. So he decides to start a bangle business in the heart of the holy town of Pandharpur. With Ganesh ‘s help her gets a few bangles and they sell them, get more and sell etc. With the Ekadashi day coming they expect a boom in business that will take care of all their needs. All this without the mother’s knowledge and with active connivance of his sister, grandmother and all his friends. But the day they gamble on a costly set of bangles they lose the box and with it stock worth Rs. 3000. The shopkeeper holds Dhyanesh hostage and his mother is forced to sell Elizabeth, their last hope against any financial crisis (it’s the only thing of value left in the house).
In their darkest moment, when all seems lost, comes the good in human nature. The prostitute’s son has managed to sell off all the remaining bangles to his mother and her friends (who have had a good week thanks to the large crowds coming to their town) and makes a huge profit, a good Samaritan who took the expensive box of bangles by mistake comes back to return it and the penitent shop keeper refuses to take the money for doubting Dhyanesh’s integrity. In a sudden turn, they are out of the financial crisis and Elizabeth is back. Hurray!
What a movie. What casting. What performances by the young ones. What a lovely story and so well told. I could watch this again and again.