Marathi film ‘Nach Ga Ghuma’ takes a comic-serious look at domestic labour issue

nach ga ghuma

Paresh Mokashi’s   Marathi film Nach Ga Ghuma  is very good as was expected from the reputed maker of Harischandrachi  Factory which was the  Indian nomination for Oscars.. It is very inventive both in  form and content. The most important aspect which is generally likely to be missed is its  remarkable  understanding, portrayal of Labour, labour-employee relations.  It may not be a coincidence that it was  released on May Day,  the day of  the dignity, importance of labour and not on the usual day of release which is Friday.

    Nach Ga Ghuma is a popular folk song about the plight of a dancer who is forced to dance against all odds.  At the centre of the film is  the  upper  middle class working woman who has to manage, office work, home, child etc   amidst the pressure of time. The film is a larger commentary on modern life  in which one is a cog in the wheel.

   Interesting, director  Mokashi does not make any comment  on labour issues, the  events bring this out  brilliantly.   The film is about the interesting interaction between an upper middle class  working woman and her  good natured domestic help  who is often late for work because of  various problems.

  And this is the crux.  My involvement in the study of  transport issues shows that  the society in general and our own mobility pattern, our over reliance on the motor car are responsible for     traffic problems and  it is the working people who are worst hit.

    An affluent motorist loses very little when stuck in a traffic jam, he or she can still do  work in air conditioned comfort. For  a working person , every second counts, especially if you have to catch a   fast train   for Vasai-Virar.

  Unfortunately,  those at the helm of traffic value the time of the rich as far more important than of the poor, shockingly even some academics think so. This is not simplistic. It is the harsh truth..

      Mukta Barve, a very talented senior, and  Namrata Sambherao, mainly from the comedy television genre, the protagonists, are amazing and the whole team led by Mokashi,  Madhuganda Kulkarni  is  so good with fine performances by   Srirang Sathaye,  Supriya Pathare, Sharmishtha Raut and others.

  This film needs to be widely seen, people splurging money on  eating out and watching  escapist stuff need to take time out and see this apart from  serious viewers.  It is entertaining too, breezy, with an element of the farce and a very good use of actors’  bodies constantly in fast motion.

  The attendance  in a mini theatre in Bandra   was not  encouraging. But the encouraging part was that  a Keralite lady, a Menon, had brought her Marathi speaking female  friend of the Dandekar family of Camlin .  At the first show, I was told, a Sindhi couple was prominent among viewers, they said they often see Marathi films.

 The labour angle of the film is important.  Without making any statement it shows how precious is the importance of  domestic help, especially when it comes to the 12 hour  shift work, looking after a child and all.

   Employers too desperately need labour , so essential for profit,but they make out as if they are doing a favour by  hiring labour.   And the system has created a surplus of labour through unscrupulous policies  and so kept the wages down.

   And in a larger context  labour is the  very foundation from which the modern world has grown. There is no denying that whether one likes Marx or not.

 Another   Marathi   film released recently  is about ungrateful children.

 How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child is a memorable line from  King Lear in the Bard’s famous play. In  present times the problem has become very large it seems and Mahesh Manjrekar tackles the theme in his  just released Marathi film  Juna Furniture (old futniture , a name given to old parents who are seen by some as dispensable) .

 It is watchable, the director  is a senior in the industry. But he has taken upon himself too many roles and clearly he needed  to  consult more people than he has done..  He is the director and lead actor as the aggrieved father, he is there in almost every scene in the film, he has also written the script.

 A lot of  senior citizens  in the film applaud  the old father Govind   Pathak in his fight, he  drags his IAS  officer son to court  in this  court drama. In real life  senior citizens may do that, the response  in the mini theatre in  Bandra last evening was not negligible.

   But two important though seemingly minor points need to be made. The son is  about to be appointed as the chief minister’s  principal secretary as disclosed  very early in the film through his  stylish,  upper class father in law who knows how to exploit the system.

    But  the actor  playing the son’s role is  shown as a young IAS officer while the post of the principal secretary  to the  C.,M.  is quite a senior one, it is not for the younger lot. After the court case  is launched, he is  transferred as a district collector, a post held by  young officers . Worse  the posting is supposed to be for Bhandardara district. For heaven’s  sake there is no such district, the actual district is Bhandara at the eastern end of Maharashtra, far away from Bhandardara, the tourist town which is at best a taluka town.

   So just as we are Delhi centric , we are also Mumbai centric and do not know much about other regions.   Manjrekar should have known better. He has some experience of politics, he was an MNS candiate for the Lok Sabha in Mumbai  ten years ago.

 Funnily,  the chief minister in his brief appearance looks  just like the present chief minister Eknath Shinde with his beard.

  The film’s protagonist is a middle class man living in Borivali.  The filming of the house was done in  the  Tehmi Terrace two storey  heritage  building on Turner road in Bandra, I  saw is being done a few months ago.

  The performances are good, especially of  Sachin Khedekar, the judge,   Manjrekar himself,   Girish Oak as lawyer , Upendra Limaye as the goonda with a good heart,  Sameer Dharmadhikari as the rich father in law of the IAS officer, and  Anusha Dandekar is  the officer’s  wife.

 Another new Marathi film is on the life of  Sudhir Phadke, very  popular music director and singer, who had  created a sensation  in Maharashtra for decades with his rendering of Geet Ramayana which lovingly portrayed the life of Rama without any politics that  has now  created so much bad blood  exploiting Rama. Report suggest that the  film’s impact is spoilt with  bringing in of  the religious politics.

Vidyadhar Date is a senior journalist, culture critic and author of a book on  public transport

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