Marathi film Jayanti's international premiere in Melbourne garners enthusiastic response!
Conventional Marathi cinema has mostly remained attached to the cultural values of social elites and generally failed to bring creative nuances to ideas and issues related to the Dalit-Bahujan mass. Nevertheless, films like Court, Sairat and Fandry made a huge impact with their focus on caste based discrimination, and proved to be a milestone. Similarly, it’s a big step for director Shailesh Narwade's Jayanti, that captures the story of a young misled goon and his transformation into a new person with his newfound understanding of the ideologies and values of great reformers and social revolutionaries such as Ambedkar, and Phule. Jayanti attempts to transform the passive subjectivity attached to Dalit-Bahujan characters in mainstream cinema, and succeeds in doing so!
Jayanti also makes a successful effort to link the stories, sufferings and understanding of people from different communities within the Bahujan’s of India. The film revolves around Santya, a young Shudra man, who is engaged in hooliganism in his locality, has failed to matriculate, works for a local MLA called Gondane, drinks, and is generally a rowdy, and a deeply casteist person with a disdain for people from the so called lower caste of the Hindu community. He has a romantic interest in a college going Pallavi, but is unaware of her Dalit-Buddhist caste status.
Santya and his family's caste prejudices are also directed against social revolutionary, and a great Indian statesman Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, for his path breaking work for social reform, especially for the rights of the marginalised castes, and women .
In a drunken stupor, Santya expresses his feelings to Pallavi; however, she firmly rejects him, while exposing the shallowness of his life and pride. Things start to fall apart when an Adivasi (tribal) woman from the basti who is like a sister to Santya is raped and killed by a builder who employs her as a maid. Both these incidents deeply affect Santya, and his attempt to avenge lands him to jail, and thus starts his reformation with the help of Mali - a teacher and a community leader.
In Jayanti, books become instruments of change; books change an antagonist into a protagonist. Books help Santya see who he has been in history, the history of his people and how his prejudices against Dr Ambedkar were born out of hate and ignorance. Books give his youthful energy a vision with which he now stands for what is just and earns himself respect through his hard work. Seeing her son's transformation, his mother, who has hitherto abhorred even seeing a photograph of Dr Ambedkar, welcomes Santya home with Babasaheb's books.
Narwade's Jayanti is a simple story, about a person who changes for the better. There are literally hundreds of thousands of movies like this in which a protagonist experiences a positive transformation. But Jayanti is unique in that the protagonist changes with a vision that defines his life and which enshrines the dream of a casteless society. Books are not the background or just part of the frame in Jayanti. They are steeped into its every action. To experience it, to feel it, one must watch the movie.
Directed by Shailesh Narwade
Written by Shailesh Narwade
Starring Ruturaj Wankhede, Titeeksha Tawde Milind Shinde
Cinematography Yogesh M Koli
Edited byRohan Patil
Music byMangesh Dhakde Ruhi
Production companies - Meliorist Film Studio, Dashami Studioz
Distributed by Sunshine Studios
Release date - 12 November 2021
Running time - 143 minutesCountryIndiaLanguageMarathi