मी शिवाजी राजे भोसले बोलतोय: Some thoughts

It’s been a while since this movie appeared, I know, but I didn’t see it until this week. This happens to be the first Mararthi movie I have watched in the cinema hall, although I watch some now and then on  my laptop.  The ticket was cheap, I had nothing better to do, a friend of mine had a McDonalds coupon which we planned to use afterwards and I knew the theater had really good sandwiches, so I went. And I rather liked it.

Mahesh Manjrekar needs no introduction (did you notice his absence from the hype surrounding  Slumdog Millionaire? What’s with that?) and Sachin Khedekar is a well known face on T.V. and in movies. I like them both, so amongst them they will have scratched up a decent movie, I thought.  But I had no high expectations from this particular movie. Well, I’m sorry. I went to the theatre expecting to see a loud, overdone and propogandist movie. Can you blame me? Now that beating up Bhaiyyas and vandalizing their establishments is the new anger mangement technique (not to mention the “final” solution to our city’s social ills), a movie with the tagline “himmat asel tar adva” (stop them if you have the guts) doesn’t exactly associate with “Guess how much I love you” hugs. So I went to the theatre expecting some celluloid Bhaiyya bashing. Not to mention a crowd supplying a constant backdrop of  whistles, cheers and the occasional outbreak of “Jai Bhavani, Jai Shivaji.” So what did I find?

I found Dinkar Rao Bhosale, a mild mannered bank clerk who has nothing in common with his mighty namesake. He has a dead-end job, an old bungalow he can hardly maintain on his meager salary, a resigned manner and a nagging wife.  The plot follows Dinkar Rao as he resists a Gujarati builder’s attempts to raze his bungalow.  Shivaji Raje serves as his friend, guide and philosopher throughout this struggle.

Now here’s the thing. The first part of the movie shows our mousy hero serving as a dart board for insults. “Ghatis should live within their means.” “Bloody Ghatis.”  His boss, a shopkeeper, a fishwife and other assorted non- Maharashtrians all call him a Ghati to his face and proceed to make a general statement about the sloth, incompetence or some other vice of Marathi people.  What’s the deal with that?  Who throws racial slurs at Marathi people to their faces? Have you ever seen this happen? Neither have I. What was S.M. trying to prove here?  How it sucks to be Marathi in Mumbai? How Marathi people are at the bottom of the dunghill? Our hero is majorly pissed off, but I am merely puzzled. A live, walking, talking Shivaji did not strike me as unrealistic, but this did. As did all the parts where he exorcises corrupt bureaucrats with lectures on Marathi-ness.  It was  messed up.  And yet, it was endearing: you really start to feel for the poor sod (although you despise him a little too).  The rest of the movie follows Dinkar Rao and his family on their struggle with Shivaji popping in  now and then to bolster our Marathi manoos’ confidence.

The message that the movie tries to convey is this: If  you are Marathi and your life sucks stop blaming it on the outsiders- get off your arse and do something about it.  It is not that the Bhayyas are Marvadis and Nepalis are stealing your turf, business, or job: its just that  you couldn’t be arsed to do anything more than  whine about it. Start your own shop, apply for your own post in the Civil Service. It makes sense, this message. Another thing: that anyone who lives here is a Mumbaikar, regardless of race, origin or religion just as all citizens of this state are Maharashtrian, whatever their origin. It’s a refreshing change from the pro-Marathi hatemongering we’re used to. 

The performances are all good, but the fight scenes…..well, you have to see them. All in all, the movie is at least worth watching once, but there’s no repeat value.  It is certainly not a classic, although this fellow I know wants this movie to be our Oscar nomination. This same fellow also thinks beer comes from grapes, so let’s not dwell on his opinion.

I had fun; the sandwiches and comic relief were good, the Pepsi was cheap and the crowd even obliged us with the occasional “Har Har Mahadeo!”

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “मी शिवाजी राजे भोसले बोलतोय: Some thoughts

  1. I liked this review and I think we really need such movies… also loved the fact that Pepsi was cheap 🙂

  2. nitwitnastik

    TCC

    If you want to link your nick to your blog, just log out of your wordpress account and fill in the details before commenting. If you don’t it will just use the nick and not automatically link to your blog.

  3. nitwitnastik

    Can I watch this online and is there a copy with subtitles? Having lived in Pune for a couple of years and having lived with marathi roomies for another 2 years, I can understand enough marathi to be able to reply in english/hindi 😀 but still need subtitles to really follow it. Btw I like Sachin khedekar’s acting a lot.

    Personally it would be incorrect to paint all marathis with a broad brush. Some of the nicest and most helpful people I know are marathis. Although at the same time some of the most bigoted and fanatical (religious that is) people I have met are also marathis. So I am not sure if I can blame all marathis for the jingoism.

    Yes, it’s true that I have come across an undercurrent of “marathi first” feeling amongst many urban, educated marathis but that is true for most other states in India (which is sad).

    A marathi friend once told me during a heated discussion about Shiv sena/MNS, “you guys come to Maharashtra and then suck it dry. Why don’t you go back to your own state?” Even though I am not from Bihar/UP and I wasn’t sure what he meant by “you guys”, this accusation made me aware that maybe MNS does have support of the educated, urban marathi ? (Btw he is a great guy and we are still friends, just in case you are wondering 😉 )

    I wonder when will we come to accept the fact that we are no longer a group of 500+ princely states but a united entity and any Indian can choose to live, study or work wherever he/she wants to, irrespective of what language he/she speaks or which part of the country he/she is from.


    Nitwit,
    I doubt there’s a version with subtitles right now, but I guess one may soon be available. And if you wait a couple of weeks, someone’s bound to post the movie on YouTube. Besides, if you have lived in Pune AND with Marathi roomies, then you have heard enough Marathi to not have any problem understanding this movie. (Why have you not learned to speak Marathi in spite of having lived in Pune? Methinks someone needs his ass kicked) *searches for lathi* 😉

    Oh, and believe me, a lot of educated urban people think the Thakerays have the right idea. Ideas such as the belief that outsiders “suck the state dry” come of people’s tendency to nod more and think less. I dare say you have met fanatical marathis: I’m guessing of the RSS breed. I avoid those types like I avoid dog shit in the street, unless one of them happens to be a friend, in which case I enjoy scaring the shit out of them with my “loose” and “excessively liberal” views, and then proceeding to take apart their nasal and sanctimonious admonitions. I’m a bigot myself, but since my bigotry extends to all castes, creeds, races, religions and nationalites (including my own), I doubt I really count as one.

    But please remember that it takes time to develop a truly national identity. Why in Britain, the Scots and the Welsh still have strong identities, especially among the “bravehearts” who seek to cecede. This is two hundred years after the Act of Union, 1707, so why should our people forget their regional identities a mere fifty years after India became truly united? It may take centuries, in fact, before we start thinking of ourselves, in our innermost hearts, as truly Indian. And it’s a natural process that comes out of adaptation. Any amount of activism or political will cannot bring about a magic change of heart, although it may help hasten the process.
    The Couch Clown

  4. Why have you not learned to speak Marathi in spite of having lived in Pune?

    Well I actually did learn to read and write basic marathi myself but since it was self-taught, it wasn’t very good and I was embarrased to speak it. My marathi speaking trials have produced endless amusement for my marathi friends 😉

    Btw my roomies in Pune were not marathis. I had marathi roomies when I came to the US and it has been quite some time since then. So my marathi is a bit rusty now.

    so why should our people forget their regional identities a mere fifty years after India became truly united

    Well I wasn’t speaking about dissoving our regional identites into some kind of a melting pot. I don’t forsee it even in the next 200 years. It hasn’t happened in the US in the last 300 years and won’t happen in the next 300 years either. All I was trying to point out was that Indians need to understand the *legal right* of all Indians to live and work in any part of the country and that also *without discrimination*. e.g.Just because marathis are a majority in maharashtra or kannadigas are a majority in Karnataka, doesn’t give them the right to decide whether other Indians can live and work in Maharashtra/Karnataka. Same applies to all other states in India.

    well, that’s the great folly, isn’t it?

  5. Good review.
    I didn’t know about this movie – goes on my ‘to see’ list….

    Do you live outside Maharashtra? If you do, then you may not have heard of it. They probably wouldn’t release this movie outside MH.

    Welcome to my blog,

    The Couch Clown

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