Movie review: Lai Bhaari

When it comes to Marathi cinema, there’s always been a great divide between meaningful cinema & absolute commercial cinema. Commercial cinema was limited to slapstick comedy and stories with a devotional twist. Production value was often weak and there was very little one could enjoy. But these films did thumping business in centers like Kolhapur etc.

Thumping business was a relative term and when compared to the numbers that Hindi cinema garnered, these numbers were paltry. This trend started changing over the past few years. But the number game changed with Duniyadaari last year. The film stood its own in spite of SRK-starrer Chennai Express being in theaters at the same time.

No, no. This is not a paper on the business of Marathi cinema. But to understand why Lai Bhaari is a landmark film, it was necessary to give you this background.

So is Lai Bhaari a good film? Even though answering that question is the motive behind writing a film review, it’s a tough question to answer. The film has flaws, a number of them — primary one being an absolutely predictable story.

Lai Bhaari is a Nishikant Kamat film, who once won accolades for Dombivali Fast. And it marks actor/producer Riteish Deshmukh’s first Marathi film as an actor. These two facts set the expectation bar quite high for this action-masala flick.

The premise of the film is a bit of a mish-mash of some masala Hindi films, but completely Marathi-fied (if there’s such a word). Sajid Nadiadwala writes a story that is formulaic, with ample action, laughter and emotion thrown in. The dialogue has its moments, and one can imagine the whisles and cheers that’ll erupt at the single screens across Maharashtra. The masala of this film is completely diluted by some unnecessary songs, and melodramatic sequences, sans which, the jhanjhanit (spicy) mix would have been far more enjoyable.

Lai Bhaari is no Balak Palak. Neither is it a Dombivali Fast. But this film marks a dawn of a new era in the commercials of Marathi cinema. This a masala Marathi film, with good production value and thumping star power. Lai Bhaari is designed to be a commercial success and it will be a game changer for Marathi cinema.

The performances are absolutely enjoyable. Riteish, who was largely known for his comedy roles in Bollywood films so far, surprised the audiences with his effortless portrayal of a villain in Ek Villain recently, is on a comfort-zone shunning spree. In the first half, there’s little experimentation for Riteish. But as he re-enters the plot as the rustic Mauli, he sets the pace of the film rolling. This is the first time the audiences will see him in a hardcore action role and on that account he succeeds.

All in all, Lai Bhaari is a masala film to be watched only if you’re ready to leave your notions about Marathi cinema at home.

Rating 2 ½ stars

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