Cast: Subrat Datta,Pranay Narayan,Neela Gokhale,Swara Bhaskar
Director: Jai Tank
The display of indomitable human spirit in the face of tremendous odds always makes for a good cinematic theme. Madholal Keep Walking uses it to show how one man,just one out of the millions thronging our cities,gets back his lost spirit.
Madholal ( Datta) lives in a Mumbai chawl with his family,a wife who stitches during the day and lies by her man at night,aware of the two sleeping daughters right next to them. One is college-going ( Bhaskar); the other goes to school. Madholal goes to work,every day,braving the crush of his local,and handling his bosss admonitions on his frequent late arrival with equanimity.
Whats nice about the film is the way it depicts an ordinary life made endurable by little things : the banter in the line outside the public loo,the camaraderie between the group of men who travel to and fro on the train,the exchanges between husband and wife about what is in his tiffin ( various forms of ‘aloo),which allow for a hint of passion not spent by the passage of years or by the proximity of the girls when they doss down for the night. Whats not so nice is the disappearance of the lightness of touch which makes these familiar elements enjoyable. A blast in the train takes away the light from Madholals eye,and while you understand why that is so,you want him to suck it up,and get walking faster. Here the film drags its feet,and gets pedantic,particularly the last segment which is a loud diatribe on courage and forbearance. And the track between a mechanic who happens to Muslim and the college-going girl is left to drift : what is the point it is trying to make?
The performances make up for it somewhat: Datta as Madholal is excellent,especially when he has a spring in his step. Swara Bhaskar shows potential : its hard to pull off being a ‘chawl girl with authenticity if you havent lived there. Ask Deepika Padukone. And it is always good to see a film in its environment : the chawl is not a set. Nor are the trains.