Rating: 4 stars
Verdict: Then Party, Now Page 3. The invitees on the list leave you appalled, questioning the morality of a double standard Arts and Poets society.
Produced by NFDC in 1984, the intellectuals believed cinema to be a reflector of times they lived in. Director Govind Nihalani’s films took birth from observing the movement of mediocrity on the streets, to the comfort in hypocrisy among the elite. His films have had stories and characters that were baptized to dig out reality and those in charge often included Om Puri, Amrish Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Smita Patil and Rohini Hattangadi.
Party, Nahlani’s fourth outing post the success of Aakrosh and Ardh Satya is about an evening party hosted by Damyanti Rane in honor of playwright and poet Diwakar Barve. Diwakar has been recognized and given the National Literary Award, which brings the city’s influential faces from theater, press, art circles and movies all under one roof for the evening. Vijaya Mehta and Rohini Hattangadi who play Damyanti and Mohini Barve respectively, excel in their projection of well-etched nuances of characters dealing with the complexities in personal life.
The film begins with brief montages of the individuals that form a part of the ensemble whose lives are shown to intersect as the evening sets in. The cinematography of this film captures close-ups and conversations that extend from writings of Salman Rushdie and Naipaul to poet-activist Amrit, the expected visitor.
For seekers of intelligent story-telling and lovers of cinema, to see abundant talent being pooled in, in a single frame gives a high. Party does just that. Manohar Singh as Barve has cold eyes, Deepa Sahi successfully keeps a raged expression as Sona Rane, Shafi Inamdar’s brilliance is known through his journey in television and Amrish Puri essays the role of doctor. The editing is crisp and plays catalyst in engaging the viewer in one conversation, diverting focus to another and bouncing him back to square one.
While there are film & theater personalities, journalists and patrons of art clubs walking in and out of the frame, the presence of a guest is sensed in discussions with him nowhere to be seen, until a staggering climax reveals his whereabouts.
Govind Nahalani’s adaptation of Mahesh Elkunchwar’s Marathi drama by the same title is well-adapted for the screen. His direction never allows the film a pause and there is something happening at each moment which the viewer is intrigued to take note of. Weeks after watching Party, what remained with me were powerful images of Rohini Hattangadi’s performance as a middle-aged wife of a writer whose insecure conscience lurks out often. Party can be coined as a cerebral pandemic which will keep you engaged in thinking about the film.
Why should you watch this film?
There is an audience that values movies with well-written dialogues. The conversations among the actors form a concrete foundation for this film which really is worth every second that you invest as a viewer. Watch Party to add strong impressions to your photographic memory which is surely not to fade away anytime soon.
Party is a title under the NFDC label ‘Cinemas of India’. The film is out on home video by NFDC.
By Soham Bhattacharyya