Baipan Bhaari Deva (Marathi): Six squabbling sisters serenade smoothly!

Deepa Parab Chaudhary, Suchitra Bandekar, Sukanya Kulkarni Mone, Shilpa Navalkar and Vandana Gupte in Baipan Bhaari Deva. Photo: Trailer Video Grab 

Baipan Bhaari Deva takes up a universal subject: six squabbling sisters of assorted ages (the youngest one being in her forties) serenade together for a Mangalagaur dance competition.

Now Mangalagaur is one of the most important celebrations for new brides in Maharashtra. The ritual is dedicated to goddess Mangala Gauri, popularly known as goddess Parvati, and is a musical get-together of family women and friends.

But if you thought that this movie was a mere competition story a la the ABCD franchise, Happy New Year and more, you would be off-target. This film examines familial relationships, romance, friendship and more and especially credits the way women handle everything with finesse, compassion and a general mastery. The title can be best translated as “God, womanhood is awesome!” as the neatly-crafted and ingenious story looks at six disparate sisters who barely remain in touch with each other after they marry, but more due to petty reasons.

However, each of them is facing some kind of crises in their lives. Jaya (Rohini Hattangady), Shashi (Vandana Gupte), Pallavi (Suchitra Bandekar), Sadhana (Sukanya Kulkarni Mone), Ketaki (Shilpa Navalkar) and Charu (Deepa Parab Chaudhari) all have their axes to grind with what life has offered them through their families, financial troubles and even each other. In Pallavi’s case, it is an adulterous husband (Tushar Dalvi), while Shashi, a widow, is upset that her daughter, Chinmayee (Suruchi Adarkar) is fonder of her mother-in-law, who she even calls ‘Aai’ (mother)! Nevertheless, Shashi has a king-size superiority complex, with ego to match!

Ketaki is humiliated by her husband Vaibhav (Swapnil Rajshekhar) for splurging from his income, though she remains boastful about their acquisitions and wealth.  Jaya, the oldest, is childless and has an affectionate and understanding husband (Satish Joshi) but is disturbed and depressed because of an old incident with Shashi and the fact that she has no kids.

The vulnerable Charu has an idler husband (Piyush Ranade) who still takes her for granted, and is under a loan that she has great troubles repaying. Her sister, Sadhana, works under her and has, apart from a non-assertive husband, a dictatorial father-in-law (Sharad Ponkshe) who is Mr. Orthodox incarnate. But for him, she would have become a professional singer.

When Shashi comes to know that Chinmayee’s mother-in-law (Nutan Aasgaonkar) is taking part at her age in a Mangalagaur dance competition, she decides to prove to her daughter that she is better than her mother-in-law by doing likewise. But there is one problem: the sisters had all aced the Mangalagaurs they celebrated from childhood to early adulthood but are now distanced from each other.

How and why the sisters come together, rediscover each other, resolve the conflicts within themselves and also set right (in most cases) the human problems (read men) in their lives makes for the rest of this film. And it helps that it is a breezy, light-hearted watch also full of sudden lump-in-the-throat moments as we witness the pettiness and positive traits of seemingly normal human beings.

Yes, as audience, I would have liked to see the post-Charu’s outburst change (if any) in her husband, or know why Sadhana’s husband and son were both just silent spectators to her troubles as well as that of Sadhana’s young daughter-in-law (Riya Sharma). I also would have liked to know why Chinmayee’s husband (Akshay Kulkarni) was also not informed by his wife about her medical condition that, by default (read script manipulation), solves the lingering and simmering animosity between Jaya and Shashi.

To be sure, there are tropes and templates used, as much like in Hindi films as in Marathi movies, but the ballgame is a mass connect, and Vaishali Naik’s smart story and screenplay makes this possible. While her dialogues are sharp, incisive and perceptive, there are hilarious situations that abound, especially in the dance rehearsals of the women who are out of shape and their observations of themselves vis-à-vis younger participants, or as in their shopping expedition sequence.

As much as with the script and direction, the film sails through on the strength of the sheer performances. If the writing and the captain of the ship ensure that each acting talent scores high, whether in major or minor roles, it is impossible to decide who scores the highest—though Rohini Hattangadi is a treat to watch when she emotively dances!

Backed by nuances, however, the game, set and match would probably go to all six siblings, led of course by Rohini Hattangadi as Jaya with a slight edge, thanks to her quicksilver changes in expressions. Vandana Gupte as Shashi is particularly brilliant when bitchy, self-important and aggressive. I loved the casual ease of Sukanya Kulkarni Mone as Sadhana and of Suchitra Bandekar as the distraught and then suddenly-confident Pallavi. Scoring equally as the blunt and determined yet disturbed Ketaki is Shilpa Navalkar. Among the men, the underplayed Satish Joshi as Jaya’s husband and Sharad Ponkshe as the tyrannical father-in-law are the best.

Prolific director Kedar Shinde proves that stories must be kept light and nimble by their makers to be enjoyed at that level by the audience. And this does not at all mean that their content should be taken lightly.

Rating: ***1/2

Jio Studios’ & EmVeeBee Media’s Baipan Bhaari Deva  Produced by: Madhuri Bhosale, Bela Shinde & Ajit Bhure Directed by: Kedar Shinde  Written by: Vaishali Naik & Omkar Datt  Music: Sai-Piyush  Starring: Rohini Hattangady, Vandana Gupte, Sukanya Kulkarni Mone, Shilpa Navalkar, Suchitra Bandekar, Deepa Parab, Suruchi Adarkar, Riya Sharma, Satish Joshi, Sharad Ponkshe, Piyush Ranade, Swapnil Rajshekhar, Tushar Dalvi, Ramakant Dayama, Nutan Aasgaonkar, Soham Bandekar, Akshay Kulkarni, Arun, Arjun & others






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