A mystical rainy Mumbai night, a thud pierces the drizzling music of rains and wakes up the security guard of a residential society. Aba a senior citizen has fallen down from his galley. Sr. Inspector Maruti Nagargoje (Nana Patekar) is in charge of the case. What appears to be an accident turns out to be an adage on the complexities of modern day relationships.
MUMBAI PUNE MUMBAI fame helmer Satish Rajwade twines the complexities of modern day relationships in AAPLA MANUS with the generation gap and neglect of senior citizens in a beguiling suspense mystery that offers a cryptic tribute to Akira Kurosawa’s ROSHOMON and known Marathi and Bollywood family sagas (names will be disclosed later) with a towering performance by Nana Patekar.
Vivek Bele plot is an intriguing disguise of an allegorically cryptic drama that ends on a teary note. Sr. Inspector Maruti Nagargoje (Nana Patekar) is a smart old fox who cunningly interrogates the son of the aged man played by Sumeet Raghavan and his wife played by Iravati Harshe. As the interrogation goes giving a sense of déjà vu of RASHOMON/DRISHYAM, both vividly and wickedly the mystery takes an unexpected turns questioning the modern day beliefs and highlighting the age old phenomenon of neglecting senior citizens by young couples.
Satish Rajwade opens AAPLA MANUS as a suspense thriller, keeping the audience engulfed in the mysterious cocktail of the versions that lead to Aba’s alleged suicide and ensures that the audiences doesn’t skip the game of guessing. The writer and the director struck the chord in projecting believable surroundings of an urban family where husband and wife work and an aged member is left alone at home. Aba’s grandson is in boarding school so the null and emptiness is more in this case. While we encounter different versions, writer Vivek Bele makes use of occasional sly humour like in the beginning when daughter in law - Iravati Harshe is not traceable and Aba calls everyone available on phone to know her where about.
And in the second half a comment on how people belonging to different income groups quarrel. It’s a striking comment on care and compassion which is many a times taken as an intrusion in someone’s privacy. Satish Rajawade applies a dramatic approach in unfolding the mystery, it’s primarily shot in indoors, and it’s talkative giving the feeling of a theatre in between. Never the less, the director manages to keep the audience hooked completely especially during the first half.
Problems with AAPLA MANUS start developing in the second half, it finds itself guilty of repetition, unnecessarily dragging and taking sides. The whodunit/whydunit mystery ends up as a tribute to Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini starrer BHAGBAN in a way which actually has taken its leaf of inspirations from Mohan Joshi starrer TU TITHE MEE. But getting inspired and/or speaking on the neglect of senior citizens is not the issue over here.
AAPLA MANUS in its agenda somewhere gets preachy and takes sides in talking mainly from the parent’s behalf. Yes, there is no iota of a doubt that the plight of the senior citizens in our country is primarily due to the selfishness and heartlessness of the younger generation but in the Indian culture where parents get the stature of God, it’s a truth that mistakes do happen and sometimes as a human being parents do make mistakes.
If the writer director could have added an extra layer in showing a couple of fault from parents done either knowingly or unknowingly then AAPLA MANUS could have pushed its envelope much further.
Anyways, after an ode to patriotism with emotional grandfather grandson undertones in VITTI DANDU (2014), Bollywood superstar Ajay Devgn’s second Marathi movie as a producer AAPLA MANUS is a meticulously crafted suspense drama with occasional dark tones that comes with an allegorically emotional surprise and it’s a decent film.
After NATSAMRAT, the incredible Nana Patekar delivers another towering performance that promises to stay with you for long after you have left the theatre. Both as Aba and Sr. Inspector Maruti Nagargoje Nana Patekar is pitch perfect, flawless and a treat to watch him act in his second film as a producer.
Satish Rajwade interestingly and quite convincingly establishes the simile between Aba and Sr Inspector Maruti Nagargoje which is the movies biggest trump card.
Sumeet Raghavan is fantastic as the son and during the confrontation scenes with the brilliant Nana, the actor remarkably leave his own mark. It’s a feat to leave a mark in front of an actor like Nana who is matchless throughout in the film.
Iravati Harshe provides solid support and leaves her stamp with a convincing and natural performance. Though her character is modeled on the general conception/misconception that married woman ‘steal’ sons from their parents, which is debatable in certain sections of the society. Obviously, the director has tried to play to the gallery over here and tried to win maximum support. Iravati as an actress has complimented her director’s vision with a noteworthy performance.
Technicalities are fine with Suhas Gujarathi camera flows as per the set mood.
In spite of having hidden melodramatic overtones, Satish Rajwade stays away from having any songs in this movie which is a welcome surprise.
And last but not the least, an emotional surprise just before the end credits will surely moist your eyes.
All said and done, AAPLA MANUS has its share of glitches in the second half but the towering performance of the incredible Nana Patekar laced with an intriguing adage on the complexities of a modern day relationship that makes an emotional appeal is a cinematic experience for those who love Nana Patekar in reels and their family in real.
(An extra for the terrific brilliance of Nana Patekar)