Film: Balak Palak
Cast: Sai Tamhankar, Subodh Bhave, Amruta Subhash, Kishor Kadam, Bhagyashree Shankpal, Shashwati Pimplikar, Madan Deodhar, Rohit Phalke, Prathamesh Parab
Director: Ravi Jadhav
Verdict: Must watch for parents!
We have all been talking about Marathi cinema racing into newer, uncharted territories, but no film, has ventured into the territory that Balak Palak has, and no film has handled the subject at hand so delicately, and with a touch of humour.
A father (Bhave) discovers porn in his young son's room, and considers the situation before going back in time. Back in the 90s, we are introduced to Dolly (Shankpal), Chiu (Pimplikar), Avya (Phalke) and Bhagya (Deodhar) -- four best friends, who are spending their Diwali vacations together. A neighbourhood event tickles their curiosity and they get about the business of finding “Shen khaane mhanje nakki kaay.” (What does eating cow dung stand for?)
Aided by the school underdog Vishu (Parab), the kids gain access to porn first through the written word and then the adventure is all about the visual medium. They go about this in an innocent, funny manner but as the blue film reaches its climax (no pun intended), their innocence and their friendships are strained. Will this curiosity destroy their friendship? Will their parents ever talk to them about the birds and bees? That's the premise of Balak Palak.
The subject is relevant, especially now that all TV channels and newspapers seem to talk about rape. As the mother in present-day Mumbai (Subhash) puts it aptly, “Today's kids carry their Vishu around with with them 24/7.”
Ravi Jadhav, who's made the vibrant Natarang and the rich, yet underwhelming, Balagandharva, enters a brand new genre with BP and succeeds. It isn't easy to make a humourous film on a subject this bold and serious, while extracting terrific performances from the child actors. The actors, on their part are immensely talented.
The film has a comforting setting that most Marathi kids of the 80s identify with. The little instances that the film picks up are intensely relatable... While the film could have done better with crisper dialogue and a faster pace, the message that film presents is extremely important. That the director does it without getting overtly preachy or vulgar is, indeed, an achievement!
The fact that kids watch a BP (Blue Picture) to Susangati Sada Ghado (a poem often sung at school prayer assemblies), is a stroke of brilliance and sums up the gravity of parents talking to their children.
Take a bow, Team BP. You have made an entertainer that leaves the audience with a powerful message. The first Marathi film of the year has set the expectations high for 2013.