As continuing evidence of the comeback of Marathi movies (not withstanding the current row over ticket sales and show timings), ‘Jhenda’ (The Flag) (released earlier this year) takes the not-so-uncommon political movie genre but gives it a different treatment in terms of the issue that it seeks to address. Written and directed by Avadhut Gupte (more known for his Jai Jai Maharashtra Majha number), Jhenda has as its backdrop the famous uncle-nephew rift that was the talking point of Maharashtra politics a few years back. However, Avadhut Gupte uses that only as a reference point and instead focuses on the political foot soldiers (the कार्यकरते ) that, in many ways, are the heart and hands of the party. The turmoil that the rank and file of the party experiences as a result of the games played by their leaders is the point of focus here and the movie is refreshingly different because of that.
As a first effort, credit is definitely due to Avadhut for taking up a sensitive subject (and he had his share of pre-release controversies) and handling it well. By taking up the issue of the ‘karyakarta’, the movie conveys the basic point, which is, ‘नेता कोणीही असो, शेवटी मारतो तो कार्यकर्ता आणि मारतो तो ही कार्यकर्ता !! ’ (‘Whoever is the leader, the people who kill are the workers, and the people who die are the workers !!’). The performances are all good, especially Santosh Juvekar (as Santosh) who convincingly shows the pain and disappointment of a soldier unable to come to terms with the changes in the party he so much adores. The music is passable, however the title track stands out. All in all, a good directorial debut by Avadhut Gupte.