The Good Cowherd
Film: Gunaji (Konkani)
Cast: Upendra Limaye, Meenacshi Martins
Directed by: M.S Davan Rivoncar
Duration: 1 hr 30 mins
Rating: * * 1 / 2
Based on the story by the well known Konkani writer Pundalik Naik, Gunaji is a simplistic tale of a cowherd who finds himself in a fish out of water kind of a situation. Of late, the number of Konkani films being made is on the rise and this augurs well for the small state.
Being inundated by a dose of Hollywood and Bollywood films, it is unfair to rate regional films on the same wavelength but as Iranian and other world cinema have shown, you don’t need big budgets to make good cinema. All you need is a good story and a story teller who can use the medium.
At the heart of it, this is a gratifying tale and visually, the story is told in the old-fashioned way. The main protagonist Gunaji (National award winner Upendra Limaye) is a cowherd living in a remote village. The local sarpanch nominates his name for an award in Delhi and for someone who has barely left his village, Gunaji has to travel alone to the capital, to collect the award.
Everyone in the family, his wife (Meenacshi Martins), son (Damu Naik) and daughter-in-law (well known Marathi actress Mukta Barve) are excited but at the same time concerned about his trip. The comic element is introduced in the form of Luis Bachchan who plays a South Indian and is his designated escort in Delhi. At the award ceremony Gunaji gives a heartfelt speech about caring for animals and as a cowherd, makes a plea to save the cow.
While the story is touching, the technical aspects of the film could have been better. The background music for instance is overused to underline a situation instead of allowing the visuals to speak for themselves. There are also many close-ups when not particularly needed and zoom outs to get the other character in the frame, like in films of yore.
Upendra Limaye is a seasoned actor so it is no surprise to see him act with conviction. Luis Bachchan has a terrific sense of comic timing and proves why he is rated so highly on the stage. All in all, the flaws notwithstanding, Gunaji is a worthwhile watch.
Published in The Navhind Times on 29th June 2014