It is a Tuesday and I am still playing catch up with all the new releases. With that, I finished watching the new Marathi film Naal 2(Naal – Bhaag 2) which is a sequel to Naal which was such a beautiful film in its own capacity. Year 2023 has been a landmark year for Marathi films with so many different subjects being attempted. The same can be gauged from the fact that I have ventured into a theatre many timea this year to watch the different Marathi films on display. One such film that I watchef was Aatmapamphlet, and it was during that screening that I came across the trailer of Naal 2 which seemed to be just so pure. At that point, I hadn’t watched Naal, and so I went back to watch it on Zee5 before being ready to watch Naal 2.
Naal was a beautiful film in many ways, exploring the intricacies of a complex relationship through the eyes of a young boy who is just coming to terms with the identity of his mother. And the subject was handled with utmost sensitivity keeping the innocence in check which resulted in a film which was supremely beautiful in so many ways. I expected a similar emotional arc in Naal 2 with a now grown up Chaitanya and his quest to continue his bond with his ‘actual’ family. So then does Naal 2 manage to impress, let’s find out.
Story & Screenplay
Following the events of Naal, Naal 2 follows the story of the now grown up Chaitanya as he pays a visit to his ‘actual’ family wherein he wishes to form a bond with his siblings who are oblivious of his identity. The story here is heartfelt and warm while tackling the complexities of relationships in a rather simplistic approach. As a result, the emotions which are complex, are further dissected and hence easily palatable, something which touch you along the way. The screenplay standing at 130 minutes ticks all the right boxes as far as the emotions are concerned while keeping the innocence in the drama intact. This results in a beautiful drama which would put a smile on your face while quietly allowing you to shed a tear or two.
The drama has such a vibrant vibe to it from its very first shot that showcase the lush landscapes of Sahyadri ranges, something which is also a metaphor for the mindset of the protagonist who is visiting his ‘actual’ family after a while. The ballad that he plays out through his hands in the rain was joy in the purest form that sets the ball rolling for the drama to follow. It is clear that he has accepted his fate and is now more accepting towards the complex relationships that he finds himself in around him. Yet, the focus this time by the writers Sudhakar Reddy and Nagraj Manjule is on the exploration of relationships between the siblings through the gaze of the protagonist.
The proceedings are simplistic in nature but address the intricacies of entangled relationships very well. There is a genuine case of warmth when Chaitanya tries to win his sister and brother over through his antics and actions. I liked how the writers used a ‘Rakhi’ as a symbol of their relationship wherein Chaitanya wishes to be tied on his wrist by his sister Chimi. This was love in its purest form represented through kids who still have a long way to go in life. Yet, the conflict of Chimi being less accepting towards Chaitanya is what forms the core of the drama. And this is represented in a moving interval block wherein each of the three siblings eat a candy but the candy changes colour on the tongues of only two of them, leaving Chaitanya as the odd one out.
There are a couple of subplots that explore the strained relationship between the adults over a piece of land as well. But because the focus is on the children, there are certain factors that are representative of the folklore of the village by the sea, told much to the awe of the children. I also did like how the complex emotions were simplified, either through uniting through a sport, or stray objects like a bicycle that contribute towards the budding bond between the children. The events aren’t entirely seamless(like in Naal 1) and you can briefly feel the forced nature of the writing in the events leading to the final act. But, the final act so beautifully ties all the loose ends together including resolving the feud between the adults that puts a wide smile on your face while gently allowing you space to shed a tear. The feel-good nature of the drama just hits home in the final few reels thus summing up a screenplay which was a worthy followup to the already beautiful Naal 1.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are gentle and integrate the innocence and honesty amongst the kids. The music is upbeat, and beautifully blends with the drama which is unfolding. The BGM captures the vibe of the drama along with its underlying emotions just so well that it translates into pure emotions for the viewers to absorb as well. The cinematography is just beautiful, capturing the lush landscapes of the area where the drama is set in wonderfully well. And nature plays an important part in the narrative as well, represented beautifully through some stunning and breathtaking frames. The editing is pretty good although it could have been slightly tighter for a crisper watch. Director Sudhakar Reddy who had also directed Naal 1, is familiar with the world that was created and that has certainly helped here. He is able to explore the complex emotions by creating moments that are heartfelt and heartwarming wherein you really feel for the protagonist at so many instances. But the message at the end of learning from kids is relevant even today which he taps into wonderfully well. Overall, the direction was really good here.
The performances are incredibly good by the ensemble cast. Jitendra Joshi as Ajinath is sincere and endearing in a wonderfully restrained role. Devika Daftardar as Sumi has her moments to shine in a warm little role. Deepti Devi as Parvati has such a pleasant presence onscreen and she delivers a heartwarming performance with an inherent charm to her character. Nagraj Manjule as Shankar is natural to the core in what was an effortless performance. Yet, there is a righteous streak to his character that made me really affable. Bhargav Jagtap as Mani is just so brilliant and the variety of emotions that he was able to bring to the table was just amazing to witness. Treesha Thosar as the little Chimi is just so cute, and some of her one-liners will put a smile on your face. Yet, the subtle emotions that she brought in was just so pure that it touched me to no bounds. Shri Pokale as Chaitu aka Chaitanya(all grown up now, how time flies) is phenomenal in every sense of the word. There is calmness and stillness in his performance which is nuanced yet heartfelt and heartwarming. And the maturity that he showcases was simply incredible. This was a towering act by a young actor whom you will hear more often in times to come!
Naal 2 is a heartwarming drama that explores the complexities and intricacies of relationship beautifully, thus making it a worthy successor of its first part. Available in a theatre near you and Highly Recommended!