Tumhavar Keli Mee Marji Bahaal – Pinjara – Cage of Desire
In the history of Marathi cinema, the film which carved a niche with its booming success, commercially and critically – V Shantaram’s Pinjara (1972). Pinjara (1972) was to V Shantaram what Bobby (1973) was to Raj Kapoor. V Shantaram was going through financial difficulties and Pinjara became a massive hit throughout Maharashtra. It also became a silver jubilee in Mumbai, Kolhapur and Pune. A great commercial as well as critical success when it was released. A winner of national award for the Best feature film in Marathi that year, Pinjara remains a timeless classic. It became a milestone for the Marathi film industry. But it’s Hindi version which was released a year later, bombed at the box office.
Everything from story, screenplay, songs, dances, and acting was class apart. V Shantaram has given us some truly legendary films, be it for Prabhat film Company or for his own Rajkamal Kalamandir. He did not make films only for entertainment but his films always conveyed a message of patriotism, idealism and also fantasy. Pinjara was inspired by a German movie Der Blaue Engel (1930) which in turn was based on the novel Professor Unrat (1905). It can also be said that the story was a combination of Der Blaue Engel and Nora Prentiss (1947). A film which cannot be duplicated or remade but iis still relevant today.
Nevertheless, this timeless classic song was recreated in a recent Marathi blockbuster Ani….Dr. Kashinath Ghanekar. It really takes guts to recreate something like this without losing its aesthetic value. The makers of the film have done a fabulous job keeping in mind the minutest details. Talking about V. Shantaram, director Abhijeet Deshpande (Ani…Dr. Kashinath Ghanekar) said – What Spielberg is to Hollywood, Shantaram is to India. He is one of the early directors who brought scale and magnificence to cinema. The mantle was of course carried forward by Bhalji Pendharkar, K Asif, Raj Kapoor, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and today by Rajamouli. He was one guy who could make socially relevant cinema equally engaging.
Sumeet Raghvan who played Dr. Shreeram Lagoo in the film, said – He was lucky enough to see V Shantaram and touch his feet while he was shooting for the Doordarshan serial, Faster Fene in mid 80s (it was produced by Madhura, his daughter) and hence the shooting used to take place at Rajkamal.
Talking about V Shantaram’s songs Sumeet said – Can we ever forget Do Aankhein Barah Haath or Navrang for that matter? Whether it is Arre Ja Re Natkhat or Saiyyan jhoothon ka bada sartaj nikla…or Aadha hai chandrama raat aadhi…such beautiful visuals, breathtaking imagery that man had! On one side we had Raj Kapoor, a fantastic actor-director, a showman. And on the other hand we had V Shantaram who had actors like Sandhya or Mahipal, who weren’t celebrities, but just look at their work! His concepts, his imagery were just fantastic.
While talking about and recreation of the song, Abhijeet shared – I wanted to show Dr. Lagoo is his element. He had done what Kashinath couldn’t, which is master both mediums, theatre as well as cinema. So, I wanted to show a glimpse of that and it is my fav song. Also I start the song on Paapnyanchi torana baandhun dolyawarti’……. Do see what is my transition point from the previous scene. It’s a drastic mood jump which I wanted.
The challenges we faced – how to recreate exactly the expression and the camera movements and framing. We were not shooting the song. We were shooting the shooting of the song, which is what made the process exciting. However special
mention of Amruta Khanwilkar and Sumeet Raghvan. When you have actors of such calibre who know the fine line between imitating and recreating, your job becomes that much more fun. Kudos to them..they did not mimic.. they just made it their own and yet retained the soul of the original.
Sumeet Raghvan recounts the time while they were shooting the song. He said – We were actually watching the song and shooting it side by side. So all of us, Abhijeet, Phulwa Khamkar (choreographer), Amruta Khanvilkar and I, used to watch the song video first and then enact, taking care of all the intricacies like how I walk, how I turn, even the camera angles. Of course Amruta has done a fantastic job. It was great fun. I can never forget the reaction of Dr. Lagoo. He was there at the Pune premiere of Ani….Dr. Kashinath Ghanekar with Deepa Lagoo. He was sitting in the last row and I had specially booked my seat in front of him. And during the time of my entry on screen, Dr. Lagoo said – Arre haa tar mee aahe!! (Hey, that’s me). That entire ambience, that era, the colour texture it reminded Dr. Lagoo of himself. So, that was the biggest compliment for me. Not just for me but also for the stylist, Vikram Gaekwad. Since it was him who decided how my get up should be. I did not want to go overboard with his portrayal because it wasn’t a caricature. So I picked up all his subtle mannerisms. I just wanted to get under the skin of Dr. Lagoo and try to know his psychic.
Set against the backdrop of folk culture of tamasha and lavani, Pinjara, brought together refined artists like Dr. Shreeram Lagoo and Nilu Phule. The dramatic gestures and mannerisms of Sandhya were balanced with the subtlety of these 2 artists.
Sridhar Guruji – Don’t stop me now, don’t drag me into your cage of dance and music.
Chandrakala – But it is a golden cage!
Sridhar Guruji – Even then it is a cage.
Chandrakala – But do tell me, who is it that isn’t caged? Everything here is because of this cage. Our home is in a way a cage for us. For all the birds who fly freely in the skies, their nest is a cage for them. A small bee entraps itself within the lotus petals. Even your soul is caged in your body.
The above dialogues come in the film just before the song Tumhavar Keli Mee Marji Bahaal. That’s not the literal translation but the gist of a dialogue between a tamasha dancer Chandrakala (Sandhya) and an upright and honest school teacher Sridhar Guruji (Dr. Shreeram Lagoo). And these dialogues summarise what the movie Pinjara (1972) is all about. It peels through those crafty and enmeshed layers of human nature, love, lust and desire. It is not about the quest, it is about the indulenge in the present. It is about balancing idealism, practicality and a debate on values. A tussle between falling in love and facing a moral dilemma.
Though Pinjra is a love story of a school teacher and a tamasha dancer, it highlighted the degradation and the decline of the school teacher, morally. V Shantaram has always used symbolism in his movies. In this case it was Pinjara, a cage. Music and dance has been another highlight of a V Shantaram film and Pinjara was no exception. The album boasts of nine beautiful songs, most of which are tamasha or Lavani. The female playback singer in most of the songs is Usha Mangeshkar. Usha Mangeshkar is an underrated singer. She is so versatile, she can modulate her voice and change it according to the situation like a chameleon. She can become an Asha or a Lata any time. Yet she chose to remain away from the limelight. But in this particular album she reigns like a queen. In spite of Lata Mangeshkar and Sudhir Phadke singing in the album, it is Usha Mangeshkar who owns it completely.
It was beginning to blossom love between Chandrakala and Guruji and Usha Mangeshkar begins the song very delicately –
Tumhawar keli mee marji bahaal
Nakaa sodun jaau rangamahaal….
Paapanyaanchi toran baandhun dolyaanwarati
Hee nazar udhalite kaalajaatali pirati
Jawali yaawa, malaa pusaawa, gupit maajha khushaal….
Just check out that Nakaa everytime!! It is bliss how she conveys love, adoration, devotion and desire through that single word.
Through the fluttering of her eyelids, she disperses that love from her heart. She announces her love for him. There shouldn’t be any hidden secrets left between them. Such should be their relationship, such should be their closeness. He just shouldn’t go away from her.
Hurahur mhanu ki odh mhanu hi god
Yaa basaa manchaki, sutal gulaabi koda
Virah jaalitaa malaa raat hee pasari maayaajaal…..
The delicate love is slowly snowballing into deep desire. And Guruji is gradually getting into this cage of desire.
Whether it is attraction, longing or anxiety, it’s still a mystery which we have to solve together. The separation of night, the ache is what makes me delusional.
Jagdish Khebudkar, the lyricist does a wonderful job of keeping the song aesthetic. Though some of the words are rustic in nature, the longing and the separation of night doesn’t sound vulgar.
Laadelaade adabina tumhaa winawate bai
Piraticha ughadala pinjara tumachya paayi
Ashich rhaawi raat saajana, kadhi na whaavi sakaal….
With all the pampering and politeness, I beseech you. I’ve opened the cage of my love because of you. This night should stay and let there be no morning.
Let the time we spend together be as beautiful as this night!
Music by Ram Kadam can be said as his career best. He was an office boy at Prabhat films earlier. Later he also assisted Sudhir Phadke. He got an independent break as music director under Bhalji Pendharkar. He’s mostly known for lavani songs but his lavani songs in Pinjara are class apart. This particular song which is also the title song of the film, is based on Raag Kalingada, an agile raag. Sung after midnight, just before dawn. It moves forward in a supple manner just as the feelings of these 2 lovers.
Pinjara, a shattered love story of an odd couple and their caged desires!