Thursday, November 17, 2016

Balgandharva - Movie Review

Yet another of those wonderful movies that Marathi movie makers are churning out these days. Balgandharva is a biopic of the legendary theatre artist Narayan Shripad Rajhans (1888-1967). Narayan earns his title early in his life when his precocious talent is recognised and honored by Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak after seeing him sing some bhajans. Many believe that he is born of heavenly talent.

Balgandharva is patronised by Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur who advises him to join the Kirloskar Theatre Company. He is fully devoted to his art and excels in the parts of women - those days men played the parts of women. What is wonderful to see is Balgandharva's total commitment to pleasing the audience for which he would spare no cost. He gets married, changes the theatre company, falls into financial troubles but retains his commitment to the audience - performing even after knowing that his infant child has died. He gives as easily as he gets, keeping only the earnings from his theatre performances - and donating even those to those paltry profits for expensive sets, perfumes and for deserving performers. Not for vanity mind you - but for completing the audience expectations. In later years he suffers due to financial troubles, is drawn to his second wife Gohar Karnataki and turns away royal donations to charity.

I loved his commitment to the audience and how he spares no effort and cost to please the audience. It automatically elevates his performance. The scene where he sings with some singers on the banks of a lake with Shantaram watching him is sublime. Subodh Bhave executes the part perfectly. It's the third movie I have watched in this theatre series - Natrang, Natsamrat and now this - all about artists who are greatly committed to their art, who philander and who finally end up in some sort of penury. Its a hard battle but in all cases - they were to blame for their financial state later on. But for devotion to art and the audience, fantastic tales to listen to and to get inspired.

Absolutely recommended. 

No comments: