Marathi cinema has come a long way from its black and white days. Much credit goes to a fresh crop of directors who have been trying to experiment with film-making as years go by. The Marathi film industry is one of the oldest in India and its journey from the silent movies era to present-day modern cinema has been nothing short of phenomenal. Veterans like V. Shantaram, Dada Kondke, Sudhir Phadke revolutionized Marathi cinema in its early days. Today, they are inspirations for young and emerging film-makers who are scaling even bigger heights. Some of the oldest movies have stood the test of time and are still popular among the Marathi audience, while some recent ones have left an indelible mark on our minds. When a certain film is inspired by or adapted from another film/novel, it is even more difficult to stand out. Yet, few films have done it with so much conviction, you wouldn’t know the difference.
Here’s a list of Marathi classics that were impeccable adaptations:
1. Shyamchi Aai – 1953
Touted as one of the greatest tributes to mothers, Shyamchi Aai is an autobiography written by the famous author and social activist, Sane Guruji. It was later made into a film of the same name by director P.K. Atre. The film is a heartwarming account of a young kid’s relationship with his mother, ending in a complete tragedy. Shyamchi Aai received tremendous acclaim upon its release and also won the Golden Lotus Award for Best Film, at the National Film Awards in 1954.
2. Pinjra – 1972
Directed by the legendary V. Shantaram, this cult classic starred veteran actor Shriram Lagoo and actress Sandhya in lead roles. The film is loosely based on the first major German sound film "Der Blaue Engel". Pinjra, meaning "cage" is a tragic story of a school teacher and a dancer. Set in the backdrop of Maharashtra’s tamasha folk theatre, the film was a huge success. This film was the first step towards color films in Marathi cinema.
3. Ashi Hi Banwa Banwi – 1988
This multi-starrer classic comedy is a remake of the 1966 Hindi film, Biwi Aur Makan. Starring Ashok Saraf, Sachin, Laxmikant Berde, Sudhir Joshi, etc. Ashi Hi Banwa Banwi tops the list of outright comedy films even today. It was one of the first movies to have nailed the genre of comedy, with hilariously natural performances from the entire star cast.
4. Maherchi Sadi – 1991
Produced and directed by Vijay Kondke, this 1991 emotional drama gave actress Alka Kubal much recognition. The film’s story is based on the Rajasthani film, Bai Chali Sasariye (1988). The family drama was highly successful and ran for 75 weeks after its release, breaking all box office records. Alka Kubal’s performance as an ideal daughter still remains one of the best.
5. Dombivali Fast – 2005
This critically acclaimed film was a huge hit, thanks to a strong story line and incredible performances from its lead actors. Sandeep Kulkarni starred in this story of a middle-class man whose frustration with the system turns him to into a vigilante. He then steps out on the streets of Mumbai to set things right, thus leading to a tragic end. Dombivali Fast is loosely adapted from the 1993 Hollywood film, Falling Down starring Michael Douglas.
6. Natarang – 2009
One of the best Marathi movies in recent times, Natarang is the tragic story of an artist and his journey towards his dream. Atul Kulkarni is the standout performer in this film based on the popular Tamasha culture directed by Ravi Jadhav. Co-incidentally, the film is based on a novel of the same name, written by Dr. Anand Yadav in 1978. With brilliant music from Ajay-Atul and a terrific performance by Atul Kulkarni, Natarang is a classic!