Dombivli Return: Film Review – More Like “The Return of Sandeep Kulkarni”

Verdict: An answer to what would happen if a common man got the power to make changes.

About 14 years ago, we were introduced to Madhav Apte, a common man who is tired of corruption and atrocities of the wealthy and powerful in Dombivli Fast. Now, Dombivli Return brings Anant Velankar into our lives. Sandeep Kulkarni, who plays the lead role in both the films, has also turned in a producer for Dombivli Return. The film also stars Rajeshwari Sachdev and Amol Parashar and has been written and directed by Mahendra Teredesai.

What’s Dombivli Return About:

Firstly, let’s get this clear. Dombivli Return is not a sequel to Dombivli Fast. Apart from the plight of a protagonist who resides in Dombivli and Sandeep Kulkarni, the films do not overlap.

A saral-saadha, honest Mantralaya employee Anant Velankar (Sandeep Kulkarni) travels from Dombivli to CST everyday for his job. His family includes a wife Ujwala (Rajeshwari Sachdev), his 8-year-old daughter Antara and his younger brother Sridhar (Amol Parashar). Velankar chances upon a picture of a murder that incriminates his boss, minister Dadasaheb, who Velankar reveres deeply. Conflicted about what to do next, Velankar compromises on his principles and takes a decision that’s uncharacteristic of him. This decision changes something in Velankar’s psyche and snowballs into a series of incidents that change him as a person. In a parallel story line, his wife and daughter meet with a traumatic accident and his personal life takes a big hit. In a turn of events, Velankar gets sucked into a political labyrinth, which is a new avenue for the middle-class Mantralaya employee. Just like in Dombivli Fast, the climax of the film involves a Dombivli-bound train.

What Works:

After a hiatus from Marathi cinema, we are elated that Sandeep Kulkarni has decided to return to acting. We have missed him. Kulkarni doesn’t miss a single beat and plays Anant Velankar with the conviction that he brings to any character he plays. Kulkarni’s Velankar is nuanced right down to the inflection in his voice and you cannot take your eyes off of him. Rajeshwari Sachdev embodies a housewife from Dombivli well. Ujwala gets hysterical after her accident and Rajeshwari’s portrayal of the traumatized mother is perfection. The film is a commentary on romanticizing principles and values and employs the protagonist’s younger brother, played by Amol Parashar, as a window into Velankar’s inner voice. The rest of the cast does well too. Certain elements like scene transitions, eerie background music, and camerawork play out Velankar’s psychosis cleverly. The first half of the film is absolutely gripping. While watching the film, you get this nagging feeling that Velankar’s spiraling out of control and something’s not right. Hold on to that feeling because the end offers a plot twist and a lot of scenes make more sense once the climax is played out.

What Could’ve Been Better:

A few elements in the second half like Velankar’s involvement with a lady outside of his marriage and an item number could’ve been avoided, which would’ve made Dombivli Returns even more focused. The dubbing of the film is off in places, which may interfere with your involvement in the film.

Why You Should Watch:

While there are many reasons to watch Dombivli Return, Sandeep Kulkarni’s performance is easily the best reason to watch this film. This effective psychological thriller with a strong cast and well-etched characters makes for a good watch over the weekend.

Pooja Pande :