Artistic hands create a beautiful landscape out of mud as the opening credits roll. Premise and setting subtly established, the audience is introduced to the goings-on in a fictional village called Mangrul in Maharashtra.
Life is uncomplicated, without much fuss just like the barren stretch of land where protagonist Kesha’s (Girish Kulkarni) cow Kardi has strayed. Under a tree, simpleton Kesha has a vision of Dutta (god). Unable to decipher whether he’s been lucky, hallucinating or plain stupid, Kesha goes to town proclaiming that the lord has graced their village.
Kesha’s TV soap-crazy mother, wily politician Bhau (Nana Patekar), and the village elder Anna (Dilip Prabhawalkar) write off Kesha’s claims as illusion initially. Bhau does not believe Kesha but his wife Vahini (Sonali Kulkarni) believes firmly, so do other village folk.
All hell breaks loose when the otherwise wasted village youth propose to build a temple at the spot. So, real development (construction of a hospital) is put on the backburner to make way for Dutta’s abode, the economic and religious potential of which is far-reaching.
What ensues is a poignant tale of devious politics, the weakening rural fabric plagued by urban aspirations and most importantly the commercialisation of religion.
A film dealing with religion and its perception runs the risk of being preachy, but not once in Deool does writer-actor Girish Kulkarni take his audience for granted. He ingeniously poses reflective questions that demand answers of believers. For the atheists, the premise itself might be frivolous ground to make a two-and-a-half hour movie out of. But never mind…
With star performers like Nana Patekar, Sonali Kulkarni and Dilip Prabhawalkar and laurels brought home from a great response at Busan Film Festival, Abu Dhabi Film Festival and more recently the MAMI International Film Festival, Deool is definitely among the best of Marathi cinema. Rajiv Patil-directed Pangira (released in May this year) treaded a similar path but lost to overbearing banter.
The makers of Deool employ unsophisticated yet genuinely funny dialogue to lighten the mood, highlight varied hues of emotions and values the characters display.
Frankly, there are too many characters in Deool. But none of them ever gives the impression of being just another face in the crowd. From the aspiring politician-sidekick Appa, to the docile Sarpanch (a woman for a change) and from the desperate journalist Mahasangram to the overly physical Pinki (Kesha’s girlfriend), all make a mark in the allotted screen time. Girish as Kesha is effortlessly expressive, moving the audience to feel with him for the increasingly putrid fabric of rural India.
Sudhakar Reddy’s camerawork speaks volumes, while Mangesh Dhakde’s foot-tapping music adds to the beauty of Deool. The Dutta Dutta song gives Deool’s purpose a modern rap twist. The only problem is the length, the film drags towards the fag end. For the non-Marathi speaking population, the English sub-titles are more or less accurate. So language should be no barrier for a masterpiece that Deool is.
There’s too much going for Deool. It is an Indian language film to be proud of. For God’s sake, don’t miss it.
Source:Daily News & Analysis(DNA)