Film: Ajintha – Marathi -Film Review.
Producer: Neha Nitin Desai
Director: Nitin Chandrakant Desai
Cast: Sonalee Kulkarni, Philips Scott Wallace,
Makrand Deshpande, Murli Sharma
Master Stroke from Master Craftsman
Ajintha is a period film of early nineteenth century 1819, which gives an insight into the truth of who really explored and discovered the Ajanta Caves and the exotic artistic paintings depicting the various incarnations of Lord Buddha, impressive architecture and its encompassing beauty gives one an impression of history revisited. The story as it unfolds, Captain James Smith after rediscovering the treasures ofAjantaCaveswith the help of the local tribals, commissions Major Robert Gill a soldier with artistic leanings, to recreate the invaluable murals so that they can be exhibited and the caves popularized. Paro (Sonalee Kulkarni) a tribal Bhil adivasi girl, who is running away from the lusty and lecherous village Mukhiya (Murli Sharma), finds a convenient resort in Mr. Gill’s environment as he visits the historic caves of Ajintha. Not only does the dark and dusky beauty enamor Robert Gill, but turns out to be the inspiration for him to get started with his creative pursuit.
Nitin Chandrakant Desai an Internationally acclaimed production designer and Art Director who has been associated with major historical, period and mega blockbusters and as a producer of “Raja Shiv Chhatrapati, Bajirao Mastani, and Balgandharva makes his directorial debut with this near true epic love story, between a British officer Robert Gill and Paro.As has been his forte here too he launches himself with a project of the size and proportion of an epic form. After recreating some prominent caves of Ajanta, Lenapur village where Paro resided and Bara Durree the abode of Robert Gill and shooting in the actual locations in Ajanta, the artiste in him has left no stone unturned. Having co written the subject with Mandar Joshi a senior journalist after extensive research on the still unexplored subject which you just cant fail to see, Nitin has virtually put his heart and soul into this magnum opus of its kind.
I for one who had visitedAjantaElloraCavesduring school days, this visit to view the film “Ajintha”, was like revisiting my school days memories. Such was the beauty of the whole film right from the first till the last frame, that it was nostalgia of sorts. There are some mind blowing and mesmerizing shots of historic art work of Padmapani, Vajrapani, Flying Apsara, paintings of the back of a lady and an impressive image of the Buddha being recreated by the officer and beautifully visualized and captured by the cameraman Rajeev Jain. Nitin Desai’s genius is at work when you see that memorable shot where light is generated inside the caves to illuminate the wonderful architecture and the lovely paintings by the judicious use of white canvas during the broad day sunlight. Wow it takes the breadth of you. All this accompanied by the light, sound effects, and visual effects of Paro crucially appearing through the paintings and making it live through the eyes of Gill, with touching music and lyrics by Padma awardee poet N.D.Manohar add to the overall magical visual experience. Philip Scott Wallace has done a good job and tried to overcome some uncomforting moments very deftly. Sonalee Kulkarni essaying the role of Paro has put her heart into the character and has delivered near perfect performance. She is looking every inch an adivasi girl and oozes sensuality with the revealing outfits of the period very aesthetically and very accurately designed by Neeta Lulla. She does this with such grace and simplicity that no wonder an officer of Robert Gills stature gets totally besotted. Here too it goes to the credit of the director that he could have gone for an established actress, but he would not have been able to get such a near perfect character casting. Murli Sharma as Mukhiya looks as menacing and performs equally well, given the limitation of the role. The same goes for Makrand Deshpande. But here I feel that Makrand’s talent has been under utilized. Avinash Narkar as Pandit and Manoj Kolhatkar as Jalal as a link between the officer and the adivasi’s have been true to their role.
On the home front Nitin Desai as an Art Director has set the tone of the film with the Holi song, which immediately transforms you to the period 200 years back. A typical adivasi habitat, the mood there in is set by the catchy number and the music to add that flavor. Music by Kaushal Inaamdar is quite researched and typical. Prashant Khedekar has done a great job as an editor and as an associate with Nitin in Direction has contributed magnanimously.
Just go and watch this film for sheer beauty, splendor, and extravagance of it all. Ajintha in Marathi & English or Minglish as Nitin Desai loves to call it is nothing sort of true, blue, visual cinematic experience.