Highlighting a family’s struggle, Double Seat is about a recently married couple, Amit (Ankush Chaudhari) and Manjiri (Mukta Barve), who wish to move out of the family home and buy their own house. While Amit was born and brought up in metropolitan Mumbai, Manjiri (Mukta Barve) is from the village of Loha and has difficulty coping with city life. Amit works in the packing business and is chained to this reality by his father (Vidyadhar Joshi), who trains horses. Manjiri, on the other hand has a zest for life, and is optimistic while working as an LIC agent.

The film begins with expansive shots of Mumbai and its everyday life, complete with a song describing the city. Unlike other Marathi films depicting Mumbai (and there are many), this one talks about the city in a melodious tune, albeit filled with stories of failure. Amit and his family live in a Lalbaug chawl, adjusting everyday with old furniture and minimum space, never going after their dreams and aspirations. Amit and Manjiri constantly feel the need for privacy and never get it, leading to the plan to buy a house of their own.

The film settles quickly into its narrative of working class aspirations in Mumbai, with their struggle to balance family and work. Director Samir Vidwans portrays various kinds of people in the film successfully, accounting for their tales and struggles, without taking too much screen time. Amit’s unnamed classmate, who works in an aeronautical company and is rich, has a few flats and a car. His other friend works for the traffic police, and does not take bribes, something Amit finds surprising. Vidwans has also brought in the story of a woman who starts her own parlor, and successfully elopes from the chawl.

Ankush Chaudhari, who starred in the hit film Duniyadari in 2013, is convincing in his role as a husband, to-be father and son. Mukta Barve steals the show with her bright-eyed optimism, overshadowing the rest of the cast in this family drama. With a run-time of 138 minutes, the film slows down in the second half, going in for hum-mable but unnecessary songs till it winds down with a predictable ending.

Why you should watch this film?
Double Seat has the family struggle at its center, and captures life in a chawl beautifully. It makes serious points, but has enough light-hearted moments to make it a pleasant watch. Convincing performances by the entire cast make this a must-see for a Marathi cinema-lover.

Shlomoh Samuel