I have not included any spoilers in this post (which has been pretty difficult) in the hope that everyone who reads this also watches the movie. Thank You.
Marathi cinema has really been booming in terms of quality in the past two years. Films like Court, Killa and Fandry have managed to gather international acclaim because of their sheer brilliance. But it’s Sairat, Directed by Nagraj Manjule (who also made Fandry), that I think is a true landmark when put in context with Indian cinema. It’s not just the subject matter of the film that is relevant and important but as a Cinephile, I couldn’t help but marvel at the intelligent style applied to the film.
What I find exceptional in Sairat is that it takes the most cliche ridden topic in Indian cinema, i.e, A couple in love hail from different backgrounds and can’t be together because of their status in society. It’s basically Romeo and Juliet, which has been Bollywood’s go to story when they run out of ideas. But Sairat is different. It takes the same story and treats it with the merit it really deserves. I’m going to give a gist of the story without giving away any major spoilers. The only spoilers that you might see are also available in the trailer of the film. So, I guess it’s okay.
Sairat is the story of a young college couple, in a small town, who gradually fall in love. The girl is from an upper caste family and the boy, obviously, is not. Anyone who’s familiar with the prevalence of the caste system in India should know how much outrage something like this can cause. The Film follows their cute romance like any other generic love story. In fact I must admit, I was caught off guard while watching this movie in the theater and was a little annoyed that this film had gained so much importance. I did not see what was different about this film, until, of course, reality hits the film in the mask of the couple’s families. Until the point that the couple’s love is discovered, the film is riddled with regular romantic movie tropes.
Then the film takes a weird turn. And not just in terms of the story, but also the cinematography. While watching the film I realized that the first half of the film which was taking place in a fairy tale, was shot mostly in close ups. But when the lovers are on the run and realize the realities of their surroundings and society, the film seems almost like it’s shot by a different film maker. It’s mostly wide shots which show, not just the faces of the troubled lovers, but also the society around them. To make it simple, this film goes from DDLJ to NH10. And it treats both styles of film making equally. The film maker doesn’t shy away from showing a fantasy turn into a reality. Even though most film makers try to make films about fantasies becoming realities, rarely do they manage to do justice to both forms. Most of them just end up focusing on the reality aspect.
This film really holds a mirror to the Indian people about the caste system but I think it also does the same for Bollywood. One of Bollywood’s most iconic films (unfortunately) has been DDLJ, which ends with the Train sequence and Kajol holding SRK’s hand as he pulls her into the train and every thing is happy. However, Sairat, which has a similar sequence with the couple hopping on to a train to save themselves, does not end at that moment. In fact, the film has an intermission at that very scene. Which is weird because the film only had about half an hour left after that. An interval nearing the end of the film is unheard of. Which is why I think it was intentionally put over there to make the viewers come back to hall after a short break right after that scene to prove that the story and the struggle doesn’t get over just because the lovers have escaped the goons, that’s where it begins. I might be analyzing the film to death but I really feel that’s the reason for a delayed interval.
Sairat has managed to become the highest grossing Marathi film of all time and that is amazing. I really hope more people end up watching this film because it’s really a masterclass in film making when it comes to handling different genres with equal integrity. I have put no spoilers in this post for the sole reason that I hope you’ll watch it. Yes, you. This film needs a little bit of patience from the viewer, but trust me, it rewards you for it.