Vaalvi is likely to become a cult film, appreciated by those with a warped sense of humour, predicts Mayur Sanap.
Going into a Paresh Mokashi film expecting something routine is ridiculous by any stretch of the imagination.
If you know the film-maker well enough, you'd know that he is one of the few original voices within the Marathi film industry.
Every film directed by him has a strong emotional crux, enfolded with a refreshingly gleeful humour, either by approach (Harishchandrachi Factory, Elizabeth Ekadashi) or by style (Chi Va Chi Sau Ka).
In his latest work, Vaalvi (meaning Termite), the writer-director goes out of his way to paint a black comedy, a genre that is rarely attempted in Marathi. Mixing comic and grim elements can be a tricky stunt to pull off but Mokashi manages to balance its disparate tones to great effect.
The film is about an average Joe Aniket (Swwapnil Joshi), who is having an extra marital affair with Devika (Shivani Surve).
In a hope to live together, they hatch a devious plan to get rid of his nagging wife Avani (Anita Date-Kelkar).
As it turns out, things go awry and a series of unexpected events form the storyline of Vaalvi.
Wacky and peculiar are the most suitable words to describe the ride you are in for!
Mokashi as director has a knack for twisting the story just enough so that it's funny without overshadowing the genre.
Vaalvi benefits greatly from that. He takes his quirky vision and places it full-throttle to create a zany comedy that is simultaneously hilarious and bleak.
It has an original setting with very interesting plot, and its suspenseful pace keeps you riveted from the outset.
The plot revolves around a simple plan that spiralled way out of control but the plan itself doesn't matter here.
Mokashi and co-writer Madhugandha Kulkarni are more interested in showing what can happen to a bunch of ordinary individuals in the face of desperation.
In some ways, it reminds you of Sriram Raghavan's Andhadhun (2018) and the Coen Bros' Fargo (1996).
The writers take this story in some audacious directions, revealing acute insights into human behaviour.
At times, it asks for suspension of disbelief, but it only adds to the amusement rather than working as hindrance.
The subject matter at display is dark and has its share of violence but under Mokashi's deft direction, it is shocking and absurd as well as laugh-out-loud hilarious.
It consistently entertains and intrigues with its premise.
There are no super intelligent characters here which you find in many other crime dramas. And because the main characters are either so hopelessly inept or hopelessly stupid, it leads to bizarrely funny situation.
The talented cast embodies the set of despicable characters that you have no sympathy for, and the solid performances all around elevate the madcap comedy unfolding on screen.
Swwapnil Joshi exercises the role of a gullible and almost naïve bloke with much likability. Give him a good storyline and he does wonders.
After a spate of underwhelming performances recently, Joshi has got his mojo back with this one.
Subodh Bhave does not emerge until the film is half over, but he makes a strong enough impression in an eccentric role.
As a no-nonsense, volatile lady, Shivani Surve proves that she's one to watch out for.
Anita Date-Kelkar is always a treat to watch and in a brief appearance here, she chews up every scene she steps in.
It is really the comical banter of this adept group of actors that makes Vaalvi as much fun.
With all the sorry films in Marathi these days, it is good to see a film coming our way that is as original, wicked, and utterly funny as Vaalvi. It is likely to become a cult film, appreciated by those with a warped sense of humour.