Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
SAIFF ’14: 1,000 Rupee Note
is the mother’s milk of politics,” Jesse Unruh famously said. Uttamrao Jadhav
certainly agrees. He even has a cow for a campaign symbol. When on the campaign
trail, he spreads around plenty of “walking around money.” However, when he
gives the grieving mother of a widely reported farm-suicide several large bills
(for appearance’s sake) it leads to no end of trouble in Shrihari Sathe’s 1,000 Rupee Note (trailer here), which screens
tonight at the 2014 South Asian International Film Festival.
is a notoriously thrifty hard bargainer, but her fellow villagers never object.
They are only too aware of the widow’s tragic history. At least she is not
alone in the world. Her neighbor Sudama frequently checks up on her. His wife
pretends to resent the attention he gives Budhi, but it is really just an act.
Naturally, when Jadhav schedules a political rally, which necessarily comes
with the promise of a free dinner, they make sure Budhi attends. They also prod
her to get into the walking around money line. However, when Jadhav learns of
her significance he drops several 1,000 Rupee notes on her.
Budhi should be able to have her glasses fixed and her son’s portrait reframed,
with plenty left over to buy gifts for Sudama and his wife. However, when she
and her surrogate son arrive at the big city market, they simply cannot break
the bills. Eventually accused of passing counterfeit notes, the will cool their
heels in the local police station, perhaps indefinitely.
you are expecting a somewhat quirky braided story following those bills, in the
tradition of Twenty Bucks, you had
better think again. Rupee is a dark,
caustic indictment of political corruption that opts for naturalism over satire
at every juncture. Let’s not mince words, this film is depressing.
the execution is competent but rather straight forward, there is no denying the
effectiveness of Sathe’s leads. As Budhi, Usha Naik gives the film real depth
and soul, while her maternal chemistry with Sandeep Pathak’s Sudama is
genuinely touching. Pooja Nayak also has some nice moments as his wife.
However, the assorted crooked cops and politicians are too clichéd to be fully credible
characters, but not flamboyant enough to be engaging villains.
Wearing its class consciousness on its sleeve,
the Marathi Rupee shares a thematic kinship
with the Hindi Peepli Live, but it
lacks the magnetic charm of a Naseeruddin Shah. Still, its skepticism of government
and politics is hard to argue with. It just doesn’t really leave us anyplace to
go but down. For those looking for something highly respectable and polemical, 1,000 Rupee Note is all that, but it isn’t
so much fun when it screens tonight (11/19) as part of this year’s SAIFF.
Labels: Marathi Cinema, SAIFF '14