Writer: Nagraj Manjule
DOP: Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti
Cast: Rinku Rajguru, Akash Thosar, Tanaji Galgunde, Arbaz Shaikh
In interior Maharashtra, a fisherman's son and a politician's daughter fall in love against the restrictions of caste hierarchy. Things pretty much escalates from there.
Finally managed to watch the very much hyped Sairat after coming across it on Google Play, where it is available for Rs. 100 to rent. Well, it was most definitely worth all the hype. It is the highest grossing Marathi film of all time with it crossing Rs 100 crores at the box office and it also managed to do well in other states as well. I do remember it being played in Kochi multiplexes but was not able to catch it then. The genius of Sairat is its commercial success because it is a subject matter that has been dealt with numerous times but more often in an offbeat manner without much commercial success. Masaan is a recent example which had one of its storyline featuring similar themes but done in a way such that it was the weak point of the film as it seemed forced and a bit contrived.
The first half of the Sairat is hugely entertaining with a stylised approach of storytelling despite its rural settings. Even there the director does some interesting things with the girl character taking the lead more often. The second half is not the usual rose-tinted take on what happens after an elopment with the director taking a social realist approach as life becomes a lot harder for the protagonists. Some aspects of it reminded me of Malayalam film Annayum Rasoolum but Sairat is still very much superior.
Indian society is one where kids from middle and upper caste/class are a pampered lot in return for trading away their freedom. Arranged marriages helps you to continue enjoying this pampering as the vast network of family support is still there. When people opt for love marriages outside the class/caste norms in places like Kerala, more often you just lose this support network. But in most other places of India, the family won't leave you alone and you have to escape from the place. This is quite the norm in Indian villages, which Ambedkar had rightly described as den of ignorance and narrow-mindedness among other things. So for many people the anonymity in cities become a huge relief.
When it comes to Arranged Marriages Vs Love Marriages, my view is that it should be viewed from the point of view of freedom. Youngsters should be free to choose the latter and family should be free to withdraw their support network if the kids opts so. It is well within their rights to have a say in the choice of new relatives they are inheriting with a marriage if the marrying couple is expecting support from family. But in India people never deal with things in an adult manner due to the inherent melodramatic nature.
Coming back to the film, it is a glorious watch with great performances from the excellent cast. The two friend characters of the boy is worth a special mention. On the technical front also it is on solid footing with some breathtaking visuals. Remake rights have been sold for many languages including Malayalam but I don't see it happening here with Kismath already doing something similar. Karan Johar acquired the Hindi rights. But in my opinion, people should just watch the original and can't understand what is everyone's problem with watching a film using subtitles.