When the long loony shadows of evil engulf the earth, where would you find the ravines of darkness to hide your gloomy lying face. You fraud with a thousand faces, it is only apt that you mask your ugly deceitful face with a smile.
Natsamrat reminded me of Imtiaz Ali’s last film Tamasha, a film which worked for me only in parts. For Bollywood lovers Natsamrat will instantly bring out to the fore memories of Big B’s Baghban. But I don’t think Natsamrat focuses on parent-children relationship. The soul of Natsamrat and Tamasha is same, that we are all actors performing on a stage called World. Nobody can play our part better than ourselves. But there is a catch, we can play our part better only when we understand our roles aka true calling of our life. Our life is a story of self-discovery. Once achieved, we are enlightened and life becomes a true success story. But how one gains the enlightenment??
In both the movies we watch the protagonist fly through their lives without knowing they are trapped in a virtual cage. A cage of responsibility towards family and society. Similarity between Ved of Tamasha and Ganpat Belwalkar of Natsamrat is so subtle that some viewers may not feel it or miss it completely. Ved is happy only when he was playing Don and Mona darling with Tara (Deepika Padukone) in Corsica, whereas Ganpat Belwalkar is happy to play Shakespearean characters. When they have to live their own lives, they fail miserably. Their families want them to change their ways of thinking. Ved’s family wants him to secure a salaried job and do away with his thrust for storytelling. Ganpat Belwalkar’s family is unable to accept his openness and frankness to deal with people and situations. But their path of knowledge is at 180 degrees. How?? Lets find out.
Ved, from childhood, was fascinated to stories of Ramayana, Romeo and Juliet, Heer aur Ranjha. He spent all his pocket-money to hear more such stories. He loved his world of fantasy, but with time it became apparent to him (through his father) that he will have to leave behind all this. According to his family he was ready to join the rat race. A race with two options – survive or lose. Winning is not an option, because this is not about prize money. This is about happiness, which comes only when you run the race of your choice not the default rat race. So Ved became part of the crowd, he knew something was amiss but the effort to know the unknown was also missing. It took love, of a different kind, to make him aware of his true love. He was given a chance, a love in the form of Tara to break through the cage and follow his dreams. He was confused, got disturbed but ultimately found the truth of his life. He was liberated at last.
Ganpat Belwalkar lived his life on his own terms. He loved performing on the stage and played many great characters which earned him not only the love of audience but the distinction of Natsamrat. He enjoyed importance among his friends and family. After years of working in theatre, he went out on his own terms. Now he wanted to spend quality time with his near and dear ones, though the same cannot be said about his family. He was loved for the characters he played on the stage, an audience feels for the character only if it is presented with full honesty and that’s what he did. But his own family never understood Ganpat Belwalkar, his character, his nature and thinking ways. To them he was a trouble, maligning the innocence of his own granddaughter, ruining their reputation among relatives and a thief in his own house. Still he had the love of his wife to get through all these sufferings. Losing his wife and after that his ultimate love, the theatre, he lost everything. But he had the knowledge to differentiate between real and fake people, blood-relations and true friends.
Ved who had little control over his life initially broke through the stereotypes and found his calling. From being jailed in a clockwork routine, he started doing plays on stage and in streets. He started living his life. Ganpat Belwalkar who was in full control of his life during his theatre days, started losing things he loved. His friend Rambhau, his wife Sarkar and his theatre all were gone. From being an influential personality he went into an oblivion. He died thinking of himself as Caesar, betrayed by people whom he trusted but never pled for mercy and accepted his death with joy.
Imtiaz Ali and Mahesh Manjerakar, both the directors chose the same subject and constructed it with different story but Tamasha, in my opinion, is half-baked. Natsamrat is a superior film for its rich dialogues and believable storyline. Natsamrat is exemplary in showing how parents are ignored by their own children. Knowingly or unknowingly how children start picking up small things to ridicule their old parents, is handled to the perfection. Tamasha asks you to suspend logic from time to time, the whole premise of the story is based on an illogical agreement between Ved and Tara that they will not disclose their true identities to each other. If you can take that then Tamasha gives you a thought to think on.
Here are some of the best quotes from Natsamrat ( Translations are from the English subtitles) :
Can someone provide a home…a home? A storm is in need of a home? Without a roof or walls or love or God’s kindness…a storm brews in the mountains, looking for a place to settle down forever. Can someone provide a home? A home…What do you want? Honestly, it has lost its strength after roaring in the forest and mountains and valleys. After riding the waves of the ocean and singeing in the flames of the forest fire, the storm is a spent force now. It is dragging its half burnt wings behind it. Honestly it has become its own nemesis. Can someone provide a home? The storm does not need a mansion nor a set of a palace, neither laurels nor garlands nor costly gifts. Just a tiny house to rest in.
To be or not to be, that is the question. To live or to die that is the question. Is it wise living a useless, shameless and helpless existence in this unbearable situation…Or should I end the suffering of this body and fling it into the abyss of death? Put an end to everybody! Me, you and him too. May death overpower life and reduce it to a state of endless sleep. But what if dreams invade that sleep? That is the crux! I am not brave enough to venture into new and unknown territory. That is why I tolerate this old existence. I tolerate the rape of my self-respect like a lifeless corpse. I tolerate the sacrilege of my existence and finally beg for mercy at the feet of my own killers.
NOTE : The image has been procured through Google images.