Cast: Makrand Anaspure, Sandip Pathak, Nandita Dhuri, Suhas Palshikar
Director: Prasad Namjoshi
When the death of people growing the food that makes its way to your plate everyday fails to ruffle any feathers, you know you’re living in a dysfunctional society. When the state of farmers is such that they have to fight and agitate against governments for paltry sums of money intended to cover for their failed crops, spare a thought about how we treat our animals.
Rangaa Patangaa is a charming story that builds in everything that is wrong with Maharashtra’s society today – an apathy towards the marginalised farmers, a ruling class of ministers and government officials who have stopped caring ages back and an administration pushed to its limits to fulfil hollow electoral promises against backdrop of a society still divide on caste and political lines.
A story of a Muslim farmer fro Vidarbha named Jumman and his childhood friend Popat, Rangaa Patangaa revolves around the disappearance of his two bullocks – Rangaa and Patangaa. What follows is a one-man search for his bullocks in time to get them back before tilling begins for the upcoming farming season and salvage his crops. Things change when journalists ‘covering’ the famine in Vidarbha find an interesting ‘angle’ to Jumman’s story when the Police refuse to accept his complaint and pitch it as a ‘Muslim farmer marginalisation’ story in primetime.
When this happens, everyone seeks their own agenda to fulfil. The political masters want to make a point about being efficient and vow to get the bullocks found in the next 3 days. What follows is a mesh of people driven to bizarre circumstances, with everyone caring about everything else than the missing bullocks. This is a story about disenchantment and strange self-realisation. Of deep friendships – with man and animal alike. Of biases and limits and overcoming them.
Director Prasad Namjoshi picks up a seemingly difficult-to-treat subject and makes it his own. His ace efforts at direction can be seen in the way he manages to create a world for Jumman inside the chaos that surrounds him. You are at once, able to relate to him when he speaks about his disillusionment and is on the verge of giving up his efforts to find the lost animals. The sensitivity and ease with which he treats relationships is evident.
Also top-notch is the writing by Prasad Namjoshi (again) and Chinmay Patankar, they have successfully balanced humour and sensitivity in a core subject that even the most sensitive of us viewers think twice about before giving a go. Throughout the film, they keep the viewer where he should be – at the position of an outsider. With the journalists, you find yourself in awe when the journalists ask the farmers the same questions swimming in your mind, questions your privileged minds never took the effots to find answers to.
But the real beauty of the film comes from the graceful performances of its primary cast, namely Makarand Anaspure and Sandeep Pathak. While many of those belonging to the younger section of the audience will be easy to dismiss Anaspure as a comic actor, this film will restore your faith in him as a terrific and sensitive performer all over again. He expresses the naivety of Jumman, a simple Muslim farmer suddenly thrown into focus and eventually disillusioned with finesse. Sandeep Pathak is graceful, with impeccable comic timing and delivers a solid performance. Special mention to Nandita Dhuri for her act as well.
Bursting with Vidarbha flavour, Rangaa Patangaa has moments where you will laugh out loud at the antics of the gullible villagers but also has enough and more of moments that will make you question your perspective towards farmers, their animals, their livelihoods and how detached we have become as a society to treat these people as just another headline. Must-watch, Rangaa Patangaa is another great film in the ongoing series of Marathi film treats!
Born in Nagpur, a city located at the center of India, Sukhada completed her post-graduation from MICA, Ahmedabad – a place that helped her begin a lasting relationship with everything cultural. Moving to Mumbai was a step ahead in this journey, with weekends spent exploring the cultural scene of this larger than life metropolis. Her interests include quizzing and street photography and in her spare time, you will find her championing Marathi cinema. Sukhada is currently the Director of Culture for the Mumbai hub of Culture Trip – a global website dedicated to arts and culture.