The year 2012 promised to be quite a year for Marathi cinema with a string of interesting films set to entertain Marathi audiences. And this year Marathi literature will see itself transformed onto the big screen.
While Golaberij, a film based on author, poet and filmmaker PL Deshpande’s life was a total let-down (my review, if you fancy reading it), I have my hopes pinned on Nana Patekar playing Natasamraat in Mahesh Manjrekar’s film adaptation of the celebrated play by the same name, penned by author and poet Late VV Shirwadkar (Kusumagraj).
And now Nitin Chandrakant Desai announces his upcoming film Ajintha. Ajintha is a poetic work by ND Mahanor, a Jnanpeeth award winning Marathi author. The work is a love story between a firangi Major Robert Gill and a Bhill woman Paru. Historically, both existed. Gill was responsible for taking the art of Ajanta to a global audience and Paru was his mistress who died of plague. Mahanor took the poetic liberty of recreating their love story against the backdrop of Gill’s recreation of the cave-paintings of Ajanta. While he romanticised the love story with the obvious challenges of language, religion etc, Mahanor also depicted a woman who stood up for what she wanted and went against the tide to stand by a man she loves -- a foreigner who can’t speak her language. He depicts village women of the mid-19th century who stood by Paru’s decision to be with this white alien. Recently, Milind Inamdar, an NSD graduate put forth an experimental play based on the poetic work (read more here) and tried to stick to Ahirani language for dialogue. The play had its faults but it drove me to explore the literary work, thus fulfilling Inamdar's ambition of introducing the younger generation to Marathi literary classics. I doubt NCD will stick to these experimental details or try to pique the younger generation's interest in the poet's works, but I expect breathtaking sets recreating the UNESCO heritage sight. However, I am going to limit my expectations as I was hugely let down by last year’s Balgandharva.
Meanwhile, I wonder why there aren’t any young, fresh voices in Marathi literature. Why are we still reading and re-reading the old stalwarts. Why is the average age at Marathi Sahitya Sammelan only going upward? Will such Marathi films inspire some fresh Marathi writers? But that’s a whole different blogpost.