Hindi Film Review
Well short of Enlightenment
Cast: Chinmay Mandlekar, Sukhada Yash, Edward Sonnenblick, Suhas Shirsat, Umesh Jagtap
Director: Ajit Bhairavkar
Rating: * * ½
Mokssh is built around a unique cinematic experience -the story of self-discovery and transformation of Parth during his 18 days Journey of pilgrimage (Waari). The genesis of this idea originated from the teachings in the Bhagwad Gita and the legend behind this particular enactment comes from the Warkari(Pilgrim) belief that non-stop chanting and musical celebration in the name of God Mauli(Mother Goddess) leads one to Mokssh -liberation or release. In eschatological sense, moksha is liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth. Moksha is also liberation from ignorance to a state of enlightenment and self-realization.
Ajit Bhairavkar’s film does try to represent that challenging aspiration with humble integrity and faith. His story is located around the pilgrim town of Pandharpur where the eleventh day (Ashadi Ekadishi)of the lunar month, Ashadi. has a special significance. Mokssh , is in fact a Hindi remake of his own celebrated(winner of 32 awards) Marathi film, ‘Gajaar- the journey of the soul’ and has retained the flavor and color of the original but the change in language does come across as alienating even though it was legitimately done to garner a wider audience.
Mokssh( as in Gajaar) tells the story of a budding film-maker, Parth who rediscovers himself during the pilgrimage. Parth’s transformation from an urban, egoistic adult to a more spiritual and responsible person is captured with easily identifiable goal posts. Bhairavkar in fact incorporates several of the Pilgrims’ real-life anecdotes. A large part of the film was shot live with 50 members of the unit following the warkaris along the 240-km pilgrimage. The director even conducted a month-long workshop with the cast to explain the concept, the history of warkari and dialogue delivery. For Mokssh too, the same principle was employed and the cast and crew had to follow the warkaris for nine days. The hindi dialogues and the incantations do not have the heart-touching effect that the Marathi ones did. Also, the performances veer towards the theatrical( possibly deliberate) and this makes the ensuing drama a little less affecting.
The concept and depth of the story and content is unimpeachable. It’s the treatment that draws a yawn from time to time. The narrative does tend to sag midway through the runtime because of the sedentary pace and unviable indulgences in narration. The focus of the narrative is also off. As a result Parth’s journey to salvation does not appear as acceptable to an audience that is lulled into lethargy by the slow, un-livening, in-effectual plotting and the resultant experience is much closer to exasperation than Mokssh!