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Film Review 1 – VALU – THE WILD BULL (2008) (Marathi)

January 5, 2009

Mad Professor Marks: 8 out of 10

Valu, the bull, main protagonist of Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni’s solid directorial debut VALU – THE WILD BULL, is a symbol for the spirit inside us. Refusing all tendencies to be categorized, to be dominated, to be explained, owned, possessed, tamed or controlled, it remains what it is – eternally free!

Valu is a village tradition in Maharahstra where a bull (in the mythology associated to Lord Shiva) is let loose in the village in god’s name. The bull is free to roam anywhere in the small village of Kusavade until it goes berserk and starts destroying crops and the village. To counter the menace, a forest officer is called from the government forest department. Actually he is sent by his Mumbai-based boss there to stop him from attending a politically sensitive court hearing. His brother suggests to company him as he was looking since long for a thrilling subject for a documentary film and that is how the story takes its course.

2008 was a good year for Marathi film. VALU , DE DHAKKA and TINGYA did very well with the audience, proved the point that Marathi films NOT need to be uninventive remakes of old English or Hindi films and seemed even to have created a boom in Marathi cinema with new production companies coming up, talents sprouting and producers ready to shelling out bigger budgets for Marathi films. Now even Bollywood-star Abhishek Bacchan has announced that he wants to do a Marathi film too. VALU was one of the highlights of Pune Int. Film Festival 2008 where nearly every line created giggles in the audience and both VALU and TINGYA received several awards at International and Indian Festivals. Good so.

Umesh Kulkarni, graduate of Dept. of Direction, Film & TV Institute of India in Pune, has given us a much-noticed and very mature directorial debut in this tale about a bull, a reluctant forest officer and a village. The charme of the simple story, well-crafted by Umesh and Girish Pandurang Kulkarni into a two hours-movie, unfolds itself through the humourous but still very rooted in real life-characterizations of the various inhabitants of  a tiny village called Kusavade in rural Maharashtra. The beauty of VALU actually lies in the experience that the film functions just like a window into a Maharashtrian village. You feel as you were sitting in the village and watching the interaction of its inhabitants: An aging sarpanch (village headman), a wannabe sarpanch who has built up his own loyal gang to overthrow the tyranny of the old sarpanch following the motto “the sarpanch is dead, long live the sarpanch” , a mad woman who is trying to protect the bull as he was her long-lost dignity, an old woman who is the only one who feeds the bull and therefore gets scolded for sabotaging the work of capturing the bull, a young couple who are separated due to the bull, the village priest with big appetite and horribly bad digestion, and his wife who’s only dream is to build her own latrine and a mother who firmly believes that her untalented brat is bound to be a Bollywood heroine.

The Cinematography by Sudheer Palsane won deservedly an award at Pune Int. Film Festival. The Maharashtrian landscape and village life has been captured beautifully. Speciaql mentioning also deserves the scene in which shopowner-husband and wife with big dreams for her daughter are fighting inside their shop as their small daughter watches. Three characters seen through three doors. Wonderfully shot!

As for the actors, Atul Kulkarni as forest officer Swanand Gaddamwar, former Film & TV Institute director Mohan Aghase as Sarpanch and Girish Kulkarni as Jeevan, the man who helps the forest officer around the village, need to be specially mentioned.

Also another Film & TV Institute graduate made his break with VALU: Young composer Mangesh Dhadke, son of Nagpur-based violin virtuoso Pt. Prabhakar “Guruji” Dhadke, was also deservedly much appreciated for one of the best scores Marathi films has seen in the last decade: Congrats to this unique score!

Now go and see VALU.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. bayyoga permalink
    January 8, 2009 3:13 am

    De dhakka (new Marathi movie), Pakpakak Pak Marathi movie.
    Also great movies with good values are all movies made by V shantaram, For example Do Ankhe bara Haath. etc
    Also a movies with good family values, how to be with kids and ashram concepts is Apne Paraye, it also has Songs on Shri Krishna very nice.
    More later.

    • Mad Professor permalink*
      January 8, 2009 7:39 am

      Yes o mysterious Bayyoga,

      thanx for suggestions. Have mentioned “De Dhakka” in the “Valu”-review, but was so far not able to see it due to lack of a subtitled version. (“Valu” is available with English subtitles) Same with “Pakpakak Pak”, although a friend gave me a narration of the story. It is really great to see this fresh wind in Marathi films industry.
      Keep sending those film recommendations.


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