Mumbai – The City of Dreams! It will not be unfair to say that Mumbai is addictive. Yes, it is! Probably that is why anyone who comes to the city stays here forever. While many come to chase their career dreams, there is also a huge number of migrants who come to Mumbai as starry-eyed brides. When a girl from a smaller town dreams of life in Mumbai, common scenes that come to her mind are of beaches, landmark buildings, tonga rides on Marine Drive, eating bhelpuri in Chowpatty or visiting Siddhivinayak/ Mahalakshmi to seek blessings for a brighter future. Well, these are all there, but only as sight-seeing!
Living in Mumbai is a different game altogether. Highlighting these two contrasts is the theme of the 2015 Marathi film Double Seat.
Amit played by Ankush Chaudhri lives with his family in a humble chawl (for those who don’t know, chawl is the concept of community living with minimum infrastructural facilities) and gets married to a bright and smart girl, Manjari, played by Mukta Barve, from a small town in Maharashtra. Manjari is a simple girl with big dreams and one who has the potential to make her dreams come true. Amit is emotional and his life revolves around his family, Manjari is simple, yet practical and progressive.
Amit has never felt the pinch of his small chawl or humble living, until Manjari comes into his life and they crave for and struggle for private moments in their one-room house, which is occupied by five people including Amit, Manjari, his parents and his younger brother. Manjari also does not complain and the newly married couple adjusts to the realities of life with a broad smile. The initial premise of the film will remind you of the Jaya Bhaduri – Anil Dhawan starrer Piya Ka Ghar. However Double Seat is what would have happened after Piya Ka Ghar ended.
When Manjari’s pregnancy is confirmed, Amit feels the need to look for bigger accommodation in the suburbs and the story concentrates on the new goal. Mumbai celebrates the spirit of labour. And in a way that beautifully showcases this spirit, the whole family takes part in helping the new couple find their dream accommodation, financially and emotionally. It would be unfair to call the other characters ‘the support cast’ because each one of them contributes to the soul of the film superlatively.
Seasoned actress Vandana Gupte plays the role of Amit’s mother. Although on the surface she might come across as a stern mother-in-law, the way she empathizes with Amit’s situation, and agrees to use her expertise in making home-made masalas to start a full-fledged business, will melt your heart.
The father, played to perfection by senior actor Vidyadhar Joshi, works in a stable and loves his job and is comfortable in his current life. He is emotionally attached to the chawl he lives in and the surroundings are a part of his personality, and initially he resists the idea of shifting to an individual flat.
Dealing with the small struggles of daily life and still putting on a happy face is nothing new for Mumbaikars. What might seem like hardships to people living in other metros or smaller towns in India, is a daily routine for Mumbaikars – a tribe in many ways
Double Seat depicts the reality of Mumbai where one man’s salary is never enough and each member pitches in financially. Manjari also takes up a job as an insurance agent and with her sharp mind and grit becomes a part of the system effortlessly.
Everything seems to be on track, when suddenly an unforeseen calamity hits hard. The small co-operative bank where they have saved all their hard-earned money is declared corrupt, leaving Amit and Manjari moneyless and helpless. By this time, Manjari is also reaching the third trimester of her pregnancy.
This time Manjari takes charge and fuels energy into the otherwise demoralized family. With her practical approach and perseverance, they are ready to restart their race to achieve their goals and reach the finish line with pride. That is the real spirit of Mumbai!
Double Seat is not a thriller and doesn’t have any shocking moments, but it connects with the audiences through its simplicity. There are no heroic gestures, but the heroism is present in the adventures of daily life. There are these bitter-sweet moments with impactful dialogues which leave you feeling the characters joys and despair as your own.
The movie highlights the importance of equality in their relationship
The very first shot of the film, shows silhouettes of Amit and Manjari in a decent hotel enjoying their honeymoon with room service and luxuries and in the next shot you see them coming back to their cramped chawl.
Similarly, in another scene, when Amit and Manjari go to see a flat and get mesmerized. Amit says that it is out of their league and Manjari tells him, “The point is not just about buying a house, but it’s about taking the plunge! The point is to try! At least once in our life we should do something which makes us feel proud of our dream and the efforts we take to realise it!”
In another scene, Amit’s friend, played by Sandeep Pathak, gives a non-preachy explanation on why he does not take bribes as a traffic police while his peers are loaded. Such moments in the film are examples of brilliant direction by Sameer Vidhan and thoughtful writing by Kushite Patwardhan.
Both Mukta Barve and Ankush Chaudhri are brilliant performers. Mukta Barve has proved herself as a woman of substance with strong women-centric roles. She does not lecture in her roles but makes her characters look believable. Ankush Chaudhri has also struggled his way up to be recognized as a serious contender for stardom and rightly so. Their fluid interaction in the movie as Amit and Manjari is engaging.
The movie highlights the importance of equality in their relationship, when one partner is driving, the other can silently support, and when the need arises, take over the driving seat and steer their life ahead.
The music of the Double Seat is a smart ensemble of romantic and philosophical melodies with relatable lyrics composed by Jasraj, Hrishikesh and Saurabh. Amit and Manjari’s struggle to get privacy is beautifully composed in the song “Kiti Sangaichay Malaa” written by Jasraj Jayant Joshi which when literally translated means that there is so much to tell you but still restricted by four walls. As a theme song, we have Mumbai presented as “Mohini” teasing and flirting in the voice of Shreya Ghoshal in a racy number.
Dealing with the small struggles of daily life and still putting on a happy face is nothing new for Mumbaikars. What might seem like hardships to people living in other metros or smaller towns in India, is a daily routine for Mumbaikars – a tribe in many ways. As this film shows many are able to overcome these difficulties and emerge stronger and happier.
Do watch this joyful ride of hope, dreams and triumph!
Directed by: Sameer Vidwans
Story and Screenplay by: Sameer Vidwans / Kshitij Patwardhan
Release date: 14th August 2015 (Theatrical)
Art: Abhilasha Kamre
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