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In the rural areas of Maharashtra lies a peaceful village called Mangrul. One day Keshav (Girish Kulkarni), a village youth, sees lord Dattatrey (Datta) in his dreams while taking a nap under a tree. He makes a hue and cry in the village saying God made an appearance for him. Anna (Dilip Prabhavalkar), most respected figure of Mangrul, advises him against announcing such personal matter as it's a question of faith. However, it is too late as a journalist (Kishor Kadam) sensationalizes the news about Lord Dattatrey making an appearance in Mangrul. There is now a demand for a Dattatrey temple. Bhau (Nana Patekar), a political activist, doesn't approve it as he wants the funds to be used for better purposes but he seems helpless. The temple is built and the village becomes a holy place. Mangrul goes through a 360 degree change due to commercialization but nobody is complaining except Anna. Soon, blinded by the commercial progress, God is forgotten. Every village has a right to progress ... Written by
Wonderful film about commercialization of religion. All 135 minutes are worth your time
I saw this film as part of the Rotterdam Film Festival 2012. A central theme is what happens when commercialization and politics lay their mostly self serving hands on a religious event. The story opens with the alleged manifestation of a God figure, experienced by a young villager while lying asleep under a tree. He ignores friendly advice to keep it for himself, and a journalist becomes aware of the event. After that it all gets out of control. A temple is built, notwithstanding several wise men insisting that there are better ways to spend the building costs. More and more tourists visit the place. A holy city grows in the middle of the desert, totally overwhelming the once peaceful village.
We observe all this happening as a stepwise process. Clearly, most people take advantage of the growing prosperity, and prefer to ignore the negative side effects. They even conveniently forget that is was God who it was all about. All characters appearing in this film seem true to themselves, and behave natural in their assumed roles. Authenticity as it should be.
Ingenious script, and it works well for the whole 135 minutes running time. The film was never boring, in spite of its relatively slow pace. The latter blends in with the environment, as we see the villagers never do very much, and they seem to enjoy their uncomplicated lives. Also adding to my positive experience was that we hear wonderful music from time to time, that makes very good listening even to our European ears. And last but not least I admired the nice landscapes we get to see.
I don't think it is useful to summarize all characters and their relationships here. You see them appear at appropriate moments, without overwhelming the viewer, regardless of their vast number. The core theme is very obvious: the commercialization of religion in combination with how an insignificant event gets hijacked by politicians. Everyone seems to grow and prosper as a result, so who cares?
Finally, I'm not sure I understood the (hidden?) meaning of the final scene. We see a looter, visibly wounded, approach from a distance. In my opinion it suggests a 2nd coming. Maybe someone to clean out the whole godless mess that the village had become. But I'm speculating now.
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