A theatre stalwart (Natsamrat – King of the stage) entangled in the shackles of his characters battles personal problems after retiring from acting. 'Natsamrat' as a work of art has a legacy of great names associated with it. Starting with V. V. Shirwadkar who penned the words, the play version had legends like Dr. Shriram Lagoo, Datta Bhat and Satish Dubhashi enacting the part. With the screen version, Nana Patekar has set a new benchmark for himself as well as others in terms of acting.

Shirwadkar's work doesn't need introduction for the older generation, some of whom might have had the privilege of watching the original play, but for others, the young generation, here is what 'Natsamrat' is.

The story revolves around the life of a Shakespearean actor Ganpatrao Belvalkar (Nana Patekar), known for his wit and sense of humour; the very qualities that affect his personal relationships. As parents, he and his wife Kaveri ( Medha Manjrekar) are epitomes of love and care towards their children. Ganpatrao is a straightforward man who doesn't mince his words. Unfortunately, his behaviour becomes a problem for his kids, who are now married. Insulted by them, he and Kaveri decide to stay away from them.

There are broadly three stages through which Ganpatrao’s character goes through. The first is the retired theatre veteran, a bit of an odd ball who does not mince his words, but at the same time dotes on his granddaughter. The second is the emotionally hurt old man, who has softened a bit after his son abandons him, but is relieved to have found refuge in his married daughter’s home, along with his dear wife. And the third is the homeless street dweller, bordering on lunacy having lost his wife and devoid of any support from his children, and rambling around the streets of the city with only Shakespeare on his mind.

The protagonist's role is one that requires utmost dedication and the actor essaying it is bound to let some characteristics of Natsamrat seep into his real self. By Nana's admission, this was a role that gave him the most satisfaction and the reason is evident. He has gotten to show a wide range of emotions through Ganpatrao Belvalkar's persona. Nana makes every scene a treat to watch but there is one that stands above all other scenes. Nana and Vikram Gokhale's enactment of a scene while Vikram Gokhale, who plays Belvalkar's friend Ram, is on his deathbed, takes the cake.

In this one scene, Vikram Gokhale, through his facial expressions, body language and enunciation, says so much more than what many actors take multiple films to convey. This scene combined with the evergreen monologues delivered by Nana in his inimitable style form the crux of the film.

Mahesh Manjrekar has taken known faces for the smallest of roles and each of them does their parts well. Among the supporting cast, Mrunmayee shows that she's got so much untapped potential while Sunil Barve puts the point across through his balanced role. Medha Manjarekar does what is required of her and there are a couple of scenes that genuinely make one feel for her character.

Converting a static stage into a screenplay for the film is the tough job and Hemant Edlabadkar did a fantastic job. His non-linear storytelling with flash-backs keeps the pace for the story as well as keeps the audience engaged all the time. Mahesh Manjarekar has done a beautiful job adapting such a classic play into a movie.

Cinematography by Ajith Reddy is outstanding and Art Direction by Eknath Kadam is eye-pleasing. Music by Ajit Parab is refreshing with only 3 songs.

The fabulous performances make 'Natsamrat' a film that sets a solid base for Marathi films in 2016. It is a film that shouldn't be missed and should be watched more than twice for enjoying the sheer dialogues and acting.

Rating: Such an Epic cannot be rated on the scale of 5 and the Audience’s Standing Ovation and Applause at end of every show is the real treasure for this movie ‘Natsamrat’

Natsamrat Poster3Movie: Natsamrat (2016)
Producer: Nana Patekar, Vishwas Joshi
Director: Mahesh Manjrekar
Studio: Fincraft Media & Entertainment Pvt. Ltd., Gajanan Chitra, Great Maratha Entertainment
Prestentors & Distributors: Zee Studios
Nana Patekar as Ganpat Ramchandra Belwalkar
Medha M. Manjrekar as Kaveri Ganpat Belwalkar
Vikram Gokhale as Ram Abhyankar
Ajit Parab as Makarand Ganpat Belwalkar
Mrunmayee Deshpande as Vidya Ganpat Belwalkar.
Neha Pendse as Neha Makarand Belwalkar.
Sunil Barve as Rahul Barve.
Jayant Wadkar as Vithal.
Nilesh Diwekar as Raja.
Pranjal Parab as Megha Makarand Belwalkar
Savita Malpekar as Kumud Abhyankar
Sarang Sathye as Siddharth
Story & Screenplay: Hemant Edlabadkar
Music: Ajit Parab
Dialogues: Kiran Yadnyopavit (Marathi), Abhijeet Deshpande (Hindi)
Cinematography: Ajith V Reddy
Art Director: Eknath Kadam
Editor: Paresh Manjrekar
Genre: Drama
Release Date: 1 January 2016
Duration: 2:46 Hrs

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