Cast: Umesh Kamat, Neha Pendse
Directed by: Atul Kale
Duration: 2 hrs 40 mins
Rating: * 1 / 2
Meant to be a tribute to the late Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackrey, Balkadu is a film that grates on your nerves and worsens as it progresses. Even without going into the political merit of his ideology, purely as a cinematic experience it falls flat, and hard. Worse, the politics of it is not going to win any new admirers either for the manner in which it has been presented.
Santosh Manjrekar’s Me Shivaji Raje Bhosale Boltoy did a much better job of addressing the issues faced by the Marathi manoos in Mumbai, this is just one track in your face propaganda without taking a 360 degree view of the matter.
A cross between Lage Raho Munnabhai where the protagonist sees Mahatma Gandhi, the hero Balkrishna (Umesh Kamat) hears the voice of Bal Thackrey and like Shivaji Raje Bhosle Boltoy it becomes the inner voice that urges him to stand up for the Marathi man in Mumbai and reclaim it from outsiders. As a result he fights against builders, school principals and just about anyone who doesn’t speak Marathi. If you don’t comply, you get a Balkadu (a bitter medicine) which is a form of a threat.
If at all there is any valid point to be made, it is presented in a way which is far from convincing. It just goes hammer and tongs and plays the Marathi card in a way which few will agree with. In between there is some romance as well, Neha Pendse plays a television producer who also happens to be his childhood sweetheart.
The issue of migration, language and the changing demographics are much more complex than the way it is presented here. When there is a ‘live’ television debate in the end, you hope that the screenplay and dialogues will muster up something sensible, but alas that is not to be.
Just presenting Bal Thackery’s cartoons in the film would have been a better tribute and an insight into the mind of the most powerful man that lived in the city in of Mumbai.
Published in The Navhind Times on 25th January 2015