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Godavari Movie Review

by rameshe

Critic’s Rating : / 5

Godavari Movie Review : A beautiful story and strong performances help the film shine

What is a river? Is it just a water body that offers a great view? A river is the lifeline of a civilisation, passing through multiple cities, quenching the thirst and setting up livelihoods of many. What is belief? Is it only what you believe, or is it about doing that while respecting the beliefs of others around you? And what if a river and belief went hand-in-hand, holding all answers if you care to ask the right questions?

Nikhil Mahajan’s Godavari has all this and more. The film, set in Nashik, is about the Deshmukh family that lives on the banks of the river Godavari and earns rent from the old commercial spaces they own. The aged patriarch Naroshankar (beautifully essayed by veteran Vikram Gokhale) is battling dementia in the final stages of his life. His grandson Nishikant (a tribute to the late filmmaker Nishikant Kamat), essayed by Jitendra Joshi, has taken over the mantle of the business, albeit half-heartedly. Life goes on, but every passing day is an internal battle for Nishikant who despises almost everything around him. He is like a volcano waiting to burst. Then, something changes.

Godavari is among one of the finest films to have been made in Marathi cinema in recent times. Story (Nikhil Mahajan and Prajakt Deshmukh), performances, music (A V Prafullachandra), sound design (Baylon Fonseca), cinematography (Shamin Kulkarni), editing (Hrishikesh Petwe), art and production design (Amit Waghchaure and Manasi Jadhav) – it ticks all the boxes required to make what you can call a team project, and that’s a rarity today.

Right from the first frame, Godavari holds your attention. The film predominantly is about a cynical man looking for an escape from the chaos around him. In many ways, the external chaos is a beautifully used metaphor for the protagonist’s internal turmoil.

Armed with a strong story, Mahajan also brings out the best from his actors. Jitendra Joshi delivers a fantastic performance as Nishikant. The character, though largely despicable, has many layers and Joshi does complete justice to it. Veterans Neena Kulkarni and Sanjay Mone are effortless. Mone’s character is body language-driven and the patch that focuses on him after a turning point in the film is worth applause. Gauri Nalawade is the star of her scenes. Her character is subtle yet strong and for someone who isn’t married in real life, she gets the nuances of a wife and mother right. Priyadarshan Jadhav’s performance gives us a glimpse of what a powerful actor he is. Mohit Takalkar in a special appearance is impactful. In fact one of the most brilliant scenes of the film is the one with him and Joshi together.

Godavari is an emotion. It’s a story that delves into the intricacies of belief, human behaviour and coping with death, while establishing a river and a city as key characters in the story. The film stays true to the Martin Luther quote that it opens with – ‘Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying’.

The makers waited to release this film in theatres and for good reason, because it’s an audio-visual experience fit for the big screen. And mind you, even Godavari’s silences speak a lot.

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