The first and only exclusive Marathi OTT player, Planet Marathi Cinema, recently went live with the release of its first film June. The first-ever Marathi film to be launched on a Transactional Video On Demand basis, the film has been the talk of the town due to its star cast. Helmed by Suhrud Godbole and Vaibhav Khisti, its story is penned by critically acclaimed director Nikhil Mahajan who has previously proved his mettle with the Netflix Original horror web series Betaal.
Having been showcased at a number of film festivals, such as the International Film Festival of India 2021, the New York Indian Film Festival 2021 (Winner – Best Actor & Nomination – Best Film), and the Pune International Film Festival 2021, the film puts a spotlight on several trending real-world themes of our times, such as mental health, peer pressure, bullying, self-harm, and suicide. The makers hope that the film helps people struggling with these issues to step out and start a conversation about them, reach out to family and friends, and seek professional help.
A young woman, Neha (played by Nehha Pendse-Bayas), leaves her husband and goes from their home in Pune to Aurangabad, where she moves into a new house in a colony. Here, she meets Neel (played by Siddharth Menon), an engineering student who has failed his exams and is in his native town with nothing to do for a year. Neel struggles to meet his parents’ expectations and longs to flee his boring hometown where “who’s related to who is more important than how a person really is.”
As Neel begins to show Neha around the city on his bike, the two bond about their lives and anxieties. Neel confesses that he feels responsible for the suicide of his hostel roommate who was routinely teased and bullied by their classmates. Neha too shares with him the trauma of her miscarriage, which possibly became the reason for her separation from her spouse. As the two begin to sort out each other’s problems, they end up resolving their own dilemmas too.
Through the protagonists’ stories, the film throws up many emotionally layered moments and highlights various inner frustrations of young people, their doubts, insecurities, and confusions. Along the way, it also offers several subtle messages, such as the fact that we often tend to overrate failure—whether at work or in our relationships—giving it too much importance in our lives, and that people can heal if they open their hearts to each other. At one point in the film, Neha also reminds Neel that “what you are isn’t where you are in person, it’s where you are in your mind.”
Aesthetically shot, the film also captures the city of Aurangabad extremely well—its landscape, ancient monuments, sights, and sounds. Interestingly, the dialogues are not just in Marathi, but in English as well. Further, the film’s gentle background score masterminded by Shalmali Kholgade consists of some soothing guitar strums and soulful tunes, with heart-touching lyrics by Jitendra Joshi and Nikhil Mahajan.
To watch the film, one can buy a ticket from the Planet Marathi Cinema app.
Neha Kirpal is a freelance writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Wanderlust for the Soul, an e-book collection of short stories based on travel in different parts of the world.