Film: One Room Kitchen (Marathi) (U)
Director: Mahesh Tilekar
Cast: Bharat Jadhav, Bhargavi Chirmule, Rajesh Shringharpure, Kishori Godbole & others
A promotional still for this film shows a middle-class Ravi tucking a gajra (flowers) in wife Suman’s waist-length hair. On the opposite end, businessman Pratap is luring wife Neha with a neckpiece. The contrast is stark, too obvious to be missed.
Ravi (Bharat Jadhav) is a factory-worker, aware of the insecurity his job holds. Suman, his wife of 15 years has stood by her man, making ends meet without much fuss. Their children study in the nearby municipal school, while Ravi’s scooter, that doesn’t start without a few kicks, metaphorically speaks volumes of his humble existence. Nosy neighbours are an important part of their existence in the chawl.
When Suman and Ravi are invited to Neha’s (Suman’s college friend) home, a plush 2-bedroom-kitchen flat in an upmarket society, Suman starts dreaming of owning a home like Neha’s. An adamant Suman wants Ravi to at least buy a one-room-kitchen flat, the singlemost affordable piece of property the couple will ever own. Hence the title. The film explores their journey to own that dream house.
With property rates always shooting up, One Room Kitchen is like giving a voice to the choked aspirations of an average Indian. Who hasn’t dreamt of owning a house in a metroplis? Coming from a chawl himself, director Mahesh Tilekar presents a realistic tale of a dream most common, yet most unattainable.
Marathi cinema’s current hot property Bharat Jadhav is understated yet effective, a welcome change from his usual over-the-top comic acts. Bhargavi Chirmule and Kishori Godbole are believable, while Rajesh Shringharpure doesn’t impress much. Living legends Helen (who makes her Marathi film debut) and Dr Shriram Lagoo are bound to attract audiences with their blink-and-you-miss appearances. Veterans Viju Khote, Ashalata, Vijay Chavan, Kishori Ambiye play superficial parts as meddlesome neighbours.
Mahesh Tilekar has been credited with the story, screenplay, costume and dialogue and direction of the film. He shoots on location, uses characters with distinctive traits, and makes dialogue very believable. However, his bias against those living in flats is too evident to be overlooked. In the end, the filmmakers end up making villains out of flatwallas and demigods out of chawlwallas. One Room Kitchen is as simplistic as it is realistic. The director takes refuge in easy cliches to make his point, that nosy neighbours, however annoying, are an indispensable part of existence. Privacy be damned!
Watch One Room Kitchen for the stark, yet cliched contrast between lives of middle and upper-middle classes. Skip, if you’ve experienced it first hand already.