Readers Write In #541: Vaalvi succeeds where Kuttey fails

Posted on January 16, 2023

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By Kartik Iyer

Vaalvi is a Marathi movie that was released on the same date as Kuttey did: 13th January. It looks like it is made on a budget that is easily 1\4th of the budget of Kuttey, if not less. Despite the shortcomings of a small budget, independent funding, and a small, little-understood and underfed audience, Vaalvi is a far superior product when compared to the latter. It succeeds where Kuttey fails.

Compelling Characters, therefore compelling cast

Vaalvi’s opening sequence is not great. It plays out unevenly, unsure of the tone it is supposed to take. Apart from that, it does a decent job of introducing the characters and the conflict at hand. Madhura Date, despite being the star of a very annoying T.V serial on Zee Marathi a year or two ago, does an exceptional job of makes us care for her character. She performed superbly in Me Vasantrao too. Definitely, she is a noteworthy actor. Swapnil Joshi, perhaps due to the time he is spending on the Kapil Sharma equivalent show in Marathi, has lost some of his nuance. But it does not become too big a hurdle to overcome. The other two, Subodh Bhava (hilarious) and Shivani Surve are convincing in their roles. More importantly, they are characters who have a well-charted arc. Their motivations are clear. Unlike Kuttey which is full of fluff without any substance. I don’t want to pull Aasmaan Bharadwaj down for ‘wasting’ a cast. Even if those actors weren’t there, the movie would’ve been equally bad. What I will say is that if Vaalvi had some cast members from Kuttey, it would’ve been stronger; not that it isn’t strong already.

Exciting Narrative

The movie enters fresh territory at an interval which is superbly timed. The sequence that precedes it is meticulously directed. The elements of this tragicomedy, suspense-mystery are limited. It is not expansive, but the skills of Paresh Mokashi and Madhugandha Kulkarni are on display here. They create a thoroughly engaging sequence that keeps us on the edge. Shots are stitched together with purpose: they are simple, straight but effectively raise tension with each cut. It succeeds at creating an entertaining suspense-mystery. What I appreciate even more is that as soon as the second half begins, it shifts gears to a tragicomedy seamlessly. There are a couple of scenes where the rhythm drops for a bit, but I’ll forgive that since it does detract from the experience too much. It could’ve been paced up a bit for a stronger impact. The unevenness, though, of the opening sequence is absent here. Now the makers are sure of the balance. It takes a familiar, funny, slightly inventive, and completely fun turn without losing out on the tonal balance. It is still a suspense-mystery at its core. The tragicomedy twist is to bring home coldness that is also metaphorical, if one wants to go there (female exploitation).

The ending

No chance I’m spoiling it. It is unique and genuinely unexpected. That’s all I’ll say.

I was not going to write about Vaalvi or compare it to Kuttey. I felt compelled because somewhere I do feel if Paresh Mokashi and Madhugandha Kulkarni deserve appreciation. For the past 15 odd years or so, they have delivered fun, light-hearted, moving stories. I wish for them to continue.

I don’t wish to make it a Bollywood/Marathi thing. Or to bring down Aasmaan Bharadwaj. It is his first movie and I hope he learns lessons. Some of them from Vaalvi.