Recently while querying about the racism intensity at Australia, i was sternly told by my friends, Pankaj and Vaibhav, that Indians should be the last ones to question racism. While most of the world is racist basis colour of skin and, to some extent, nationality; in India, racism extends further at religion, community, caste and creed levels too.
Fandry is a slang used to call someone a pig, and in the last scene, the protagonist, Jabya, revolts against casteism by throwing a big stone towards the camera (audience). That is where this hard hitting movie ends. I would be interested to know from director Nagraj Manjule, if the camera got shattered after that shot. Fandry is my second reccomended Marathi flick of recent times, after Killa.
Jabya and his family belong to the lower caste community and hence residing in outskirts of a central Maharastra village called Akolner. Thankfully Jabya is allowed to visit school where he has feelings for an upper caste girl named Shalu, but struggles to muster courage to speak to her. Jabya’s family are kept out of bounds from all important places of the village and their source of revenue only comes from doing menial jobs, none other would do. Like catching all pigs of the village and killing them.
The last scene from Fandry is a tribute to Gautam Ghose’s 1984 classic Paar. Paar had Naseeruddin Shah and a pregnant Shabana Azmi driving hordes of pigs across the river to earn some money. In Fandry, the entire family (including aged women) are running helter skelter to catch a dirty pig, which the village wants to get rid of. Powerhouse actor Kishor Kadam as Jabya’s father, a submissive meek personality, gives a memorable performance, especially at the end with his thighs paining, running out of breath, seeking more effort from his family and yet all in vain to catch the pig.
Jabya had least interest in catching pigs or doing any other menial activity. He loved school. But more than that he hated the fact that being from lower caste, entire village would look down upon him while he did such tasks. In the climax, the entire village is shown enjoying the fun while members of the family sweat endlessly, till a fight breaks out.
Jabya seeks some solace from his friend Pirya and a bicycle mechanic Chankya. Chankya is a very well written character, who has a chequered history but sees his youth in Jabya and loves him unconditionally. He advises Jabya to catch a black sparrow, burn it and throw its ashes towards his lady love, to caste a magic and win her love.
Yes this is modern India – tucked away from ‘Digital India’, ’Quadrilateral project highways’, high end malls and Bollywood. Central Maharastra means part drought effected and hence Akolner village barely has any patch of greenery. You will struggle to find three lush green trees in any one shot – its dry and brown all the way. This is the India, where they sprinkle cow urine to purify, anyone or anything, touched by a lower caste.
Fandry is a great home viewing and as you have guessed it, there is no masala, humour or fun element to entertain you. Fandry takes you to art house movie, reality on its face, the country we are leaving for next generations and yet a place you wish your kids never land up, even for a minute.
My Rating : 3.5/5
IMDB Rating: 8.3/10