Vaalvi (Marathi) is one dark and deadly concoction

Swapnil Joshi and Anita Date in the Marathi dark comedy Vaalvi on ZEE5. Photo: Trailer Video Grab 

A suicide pact that isn’t one—a husband (Swapnil Joshi) wants to get rid of his wife (Anita Date), pretends bankruptcy and suggests a double suicide to her, as she cannot imagine living without him. His gun is a dummy and will not have bullets, you see. An elaborate timeline is worked out between his dentist girlfriend (Shivani Surve) and him that will seemingly take care of all eventualities. The perfect suicide is planned.

However, when the time comes, the husband finds his wife seemingly unconscious on the floor when he comes home—she has been under psychotropic medication from her psychiatrist (Subodh Bhave). So he cold-bloodedly shoots her and leaves the premises. But when he returns, again as planned, the body is not there…And then comes a phone call.

This deadly concoction is given the unlikely name of Vaalvi (or termite infestation, as seen in buildings) and its significance is seen only in the last 60 seconds of this terrific black comedy that also shows to what extent human depravity can vitiate a normal person.

The husband and wife team of Madhugandha Kulkarni and Paresh Mokashi (who together gave us the Oscar-nominated Harishchandrachi Factory as well as the National—and other awards—winner Elizabeth Ekadashi) spin yet another totally original and fresh drama, which, though in Marathi, deserves to be screened and seen in multiple languages.

Outstandingly paced and structured, it finds the viewer on the edge of the seat when it is realized (while watching on OTT now) that a mere five minutes remains for the end and things are getting so complicated, with no resolution in sight! The tension is doubly heightened as films, unlike web series, do not have cliffhangers!

The script is almost perfect except for the loophole of how easily the body was taken away, which could have been more convincingly depicted. There is another flaw—which can be noticed by a sharp viewer, but that too could have been dealt with. But overall, these glitches barely register as the viewer gets involved in a  plot wherein three people want one inconvenient human being out of the way!

The background score by Mangesh Dhakade  is a highlight, and so is the razor-sharp editing by Abhijeet Deshpande and Saurabh Prabhudesai and the terrific camerawork, especially in the many night sequences, by Satyajit Shobha Shriram.

The direction is again first-rate, and I am amazed that despite so much sterling work over the years, neither Paresh nor his wife has been honored with at least a Padma Shri—the two have been excelling in theater too for a long while. Madhugandha’s dialogues are exemplary, ditto the buildup on the road when husband, girlfriend and the third individual set out to get rid of the corpse.

The performances too are exceptional, led by Anita Date as the victim. While the three lead players are very good, Namrata Avate Sambherao as the dental patient and Asha Dnyate as the housemaid are superb as well.

So is the movie, which regretfully loses the perfect rating only because of the loopholes that may not come to mind but also could have been worked out easily.

Rating: ****1/2

ZEE5 presents Zee Studios’ Vaalvi (Marathi) Produced by: Madhugandha Kulkarni  Directed by: Paresh Mokashi  Written by: Madhugandha Kulkarni & Paresh Mokashi  Music:Mangesh Dhakade  Starring: Swapniil Joshi, Subodh Bhave, Anita Date, Shivani Surve, Asha Dynate, Namrata Avate Sambherao & others






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