Often, it’s suggested to not pursue biopics of characters you’re in awe of. That awe will flip a narrative right into a fantasy, a story right into a hagiography. You by no means get a portrait of the individual, caught as you’re with plot factors that produce heroism via hurdle-hopping.
Me Vasantrao, the biographical sketch of singer Vasantrao Deshpande, heeds no such recommendation. The truth is, it digs its heels deeper into its awe. Vasantrao Deshpande’s grandson Rahul Deshpande performs him, sings as him — giving the maxim ‘worry the day you notice you could have turn into your mother and father’ a extra visceral, generational leap of horror — providing his artwork as devotion to the singer and grandfather. It’s on this context that I might somewhat name this movie an ode, an providing than a biography. The binary of good-bad to guage the movie is now changed with sincere-insincere.
The movie opens with an previous Vasantrao within the inexperienced room, unworried about following Zakir Hussain’s percussive perfection. Individuals are whispering outdoors his room — how can any following act match up?
An previous Muslim man walks into the inexperienced room — we don’t know who he’s, supplied solely pictures from behind his shoulder, his cane, his cranium cap — asking him about his life, and Vasantrao spills us right into a flashback. It’s a clunky body, considerably neatened by the point we notice who this previous Muslim man is and what he represents, a clunkiness that dots the movie, which is coated over by its music — so highly effective, daring, delicate, various (ghazal, shastriya sangeet, lavani), shifting, and melodious. This can be a music album, stretching at 1 hour 20 minutes, for the ages.
The manufacturing of artwork right here, cleaved off any divine or ethical calling, is merely summoned by itself phrases — music for music’s sake.
Thus begins the episodic retelling of Vasantrao’s life — from his childhood the place his mom (Anita Date) walks away from her in-laws, elevating him on her personal, his first brush with music, observing the best way the hand strikes when a singer sings, emulating it, after which immersing it into his apply, his temporary detour in Lahore the place he discovered a brand new raag, a brand new type, his friendship with Begum Akhtar, his flirting with lavani, and in the end, how he provides up a safe authorities job for the unsteady, unforgiving lifetime of the artist.
A personality who’s written as if he’s merely a product of his circumstances, Vasantrao was known as by many within the music circle, the Brahmakamal, the lotus that blooms at night time leaving an enduring perfume, testing everybody’s endurance who’re ready for the unfurling of scent and sight. Vasantrao’s musical profession, too, just like the Brahmakamal, bloomed within the autumn of his life, with the Marathi play, Katyar Kaljat Ghusali, concerning the battle between two musical gharanas. (One of many operating threads via this film and his life was his unwillingness to fit himself right into a gharana, having absorbed his artwork from Aman Ali Khan and Anjanibai Malpekar of the Bhendibazaar gharana, Sureshbabu Mane of the Kirana gharana, Asad Ali Khan of the Patiala gharana, and Ramkrishnabuwa Vaze of the Gwalior gharana.)
In Lahore, he spends months studying Raag Marwa — the place the pancham word, or Pa, is all the time omitted. The Pa, described because the backbone word, when omitted, all of a sudden produces a type of blustering anchor-lessness, which the movie additionally calls a father-lessness, one which Vasantrao could be very accustomed to, having had no contact along with his father through the years. Becoming then, that the Raag Vasantrao Deshpande is greatest recognized for, one which he created — Raag Raj Kalyan — additionally omits the Pa. One in all his gurus, Asad Ali Khan, had advised him, “Sing as you converse”, and, thus, his speech and tune grew to become one.
In probably the most shifting scenes of the movie — spun round ‘Tere Dar Se’ with Rahul Deshpande and Himani Kapoor singing as Vasantrao Deshpande and Begum Akhtar — Vasantrao asks the Begum’s permission to sing after listening to her, as a result of if he doesn’t, he’ll burst. The manufacturing of artwork right here, cleaved off any divine or ethical calling, is merely summoned by itself phrases — music for music’s sake.
However for a movie on Vasantrao Deshpande, his work in Marathi movies is suspiciously lacking — he sang in additional than 80 Marathi movies, and even acted in a couple of, together with the function of Krishna on the age of eight in Kaliya Mardan (1935). As an alternative, his deep roots in theater, his affinity for lavani music — a beautiful scene the place he transforms his scarf right into a pallu, performing lavani as a girl sublimating need and drama — are explored via musical asides.
What can be lacking from this movie is an endearing complexity. Hints of chinks are thrown round — when he refuses to let his daughter be taught Kathak after he’s jilted as a result of there isn’t any cash within the arts, or when the lengthy gaze between him and Begum Akhtar is ready to burst open, or his outburst in direction of his good friend Pu La Deshpande (Pushkaraj Chirputkar) — nevertheless it all ties again neatly into his goodness and charm. There’s a servility within the narrative to the parable of Vasantrao Deshpande, and I can’t assist however consider what he advised somebody who insisted that Marathi theater was “certainly lucky to obtain [his] seva” — “Why do you need to make all of it greasy by uttering phrases like seva-biwa?”