Unlike the unanimous roar of appreciation that has been finding its way after the release of this Marathi film, let me admit, the film hits a few lows before it finally reaches its conclusion and leaves the viewer all praises.
Fandry is not an easy essay, and for those who have watched the trailer know for a fact that the film is far from the nomenclature of commercial filmmaking in India. Nagraj Manjule’s attempt at creating a visually spectacular representation of cast differences defines the making of Fandry.
Jambuwant Mane, the principal character in this film played by Somnath Awghade belongs to a Dalit (lower cast) family in Akolner which is a village close to Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. The family that barely manages to make ends meet has Kishore Kadam play Jabya’s father who works for meager wages. Does the society allow them to dream without having to care for consequences? Fandry challenges many such notions without being preachy.
Films lingering around sensitive issues like these are often seen to strike the right chord at inception, but soon start playing on repeat mode. Nagraj’s film has a story, and to support that, has an even stronger screenplay. The film’s attempt at creating moments is genuine and heartfelt.
The film captures the innocence of Jabya’s affection for Shalu who belongs to the richer circles from the village. Unaware of how his share of cross-class romance might conclude, Jabya continues pursuing and wooing Shalu which brings smiles to the audiences amidst the darkness of the theme of Fandry.
Taking baby steps, Jambuwant’s journey is highlighted by his realizations of a dysfunctional society he is surrounded by. His frustration is shown to build up to an intensely dramatic climax where Jabya’s innocence is lost. The emotional investment by the audience disappears instantly, leaving the boy in a pitiful state.
After sweeping awards in every possible category at film festivals, Fandry released not only in Maharashtra but also reached a national audience with PVR Director’s Rare as its vehicle. The film has an exhaustive climax which definitely deserved a sharper edit. It made me restless and I wanted Jabya to let go of his resentment sooner. Rajshree Kharat as Shalu performs well and maintains subtlety essential for her character. The supporting cast of Fandry gives the film strength to keep going.
Nevertheless, debutante director Nagraj Manjule makes a film with honesty and that is what the global audience connects to. Fandry, which is often misunderstood to be the main lead’s character name is justified in the film. Symbolic representations have always been appreciated in cinema. And the title of this film does something similar.
To conclude recommending this film like other exceptional movies would be an understatement. Fandry sets a benchmark not only for regional films but also for stories that use the medium of cinema to open a dialogue with the audience of today.
By Soham Bhattacharyya