The film Lokmanya – Ek Yug Purush is more than just a biopic. It never makes an attempt to glance into the more finer facets of his life, but employs some biographical components to prove how ever-relevant Lokmanya Tilak’s thoughts and ideals are, and how important it is for us in this day and age to implement the same in our lives. And here the film makes a very strong point. Tilak’s philosophical and moral templates are employed in conveying the substance of 19th century Swa-Raj (self-governance) and 21st century Su-Raj (good-governance), and raise an important question – are we really free?
A present-day journalist (Chinmay Mandlekar) comes across a newly recovered audio of Tilak’s (Subodh Bhave’s) speech, and intrigued by it, he further pursues to learn more about the great visionary. Balgangadhar Tilak was among the few initiators of rebellion against the British, and openly advocated violence as a means to achieve independence. His ideals coupled with the philosophies from Bhagvada Gita make ground for the main story here, aim of which is to make you think and not pull you into the personal conflicts of Tilak’s life.
Subodh Bhave is intense in his portrayal of the freedom fighter, and has great dialogue delivery. Chinmay Mandlekar as the Tilak-inspired journalist channels his confusion and angst pretty well, while Priya Bapat does good to buffer his unease.
Marathi cinema has got some seriously good technicians over the past decade, and all technical aspects including photography and cinematography are very well handled. Director Om Raut has wonderfully brought out the intellect in the film, but leaves the human element mostly untouched. There’s a good start to the Tilak-Agarkar friendship and their collaborative effort in Kesari and Maratha, but their relationship is left unworked midway and the subplot incomplete. The film includes Tilak’s dialogue with many prominent personalities including Vivekananda, Bipin Chandra Pal, Mohandas Gandhi, Phule etc., but none of these conversations fired our blood or have us hooked. The narrative shuffling between the past and present has many hiccups as well. There’s enough tension created in many segments of the film, but this tension does not live till its natural climax and is hastily killed. Either the scene abruptly ended, or an unnecessary song broke the stress – and owing to these the film suffers as it doesn’t connect with the viewer on an emotional level.
Having said all that, Lokmanya – Ek Yug Purush is an honest historical touch-up on Tilak, and a promising start to Marathi cinema in 2015. Deserves a definite see for the moral it imparts.