The director duo, Sumitra Bhave & Sunil Sukhthankar, is known for their socially relevant filmography backed by intellectual insights. Moreover, they have achieved the feat without ever being preachy or even an ounce of pretense. Their latest film – ‘Welcome Home’ is perhaps their most mainstream venture, not because they try to spoon-feed their content in any way; but rather for the subject-matter being common in the contemporary Marathi cinema, being related to the family-bonds. Besides, it has four musical tracks which are rarely used in their films.

Despite that, it exceeds the expectations while presenting a more radical view about the idea of ‘home’, without entirely judging decisions of any of its characters. And still, it presents a strong case of women living in the long-lived patriarchal society while observing from the higher class of the social construct. Perhaps that’s why it is particularly biting for a generation who claims the non-existence of patriarchy by sharing an argument by Jordon Peterson destroying (!) it.  It is an essential watch not for its script, but also for the masterly craft. The film is leisurely paced without forcing its point on the viewers, which is precisely why it works just as much on the cerebral as much as it does on the emotional front.

Welcome Home is primarily based on a middle-aged lady- Saudamini (Mrinal Kulkarni) who belongs to a higher-class family from Pune. Within the first few frames, the film tells about her mental state without giving away any particular cues of the actual situation. You get instantly attached to her. At the time, she’s at her husband’s place with her aged mother-in-law. Her decision to leave the place comes not too late which leads her to her parent’s house. Further, as we move along, we meet her family members who have different reactions about her sudden visit followed by their own daily conflicts.

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Similar to Welcome Home: LATHE JOSHI [2016]: STUCK IN TIME

Saudamini’s parents- Appa-Maai (Mohan Agashe and Uttara Baokar), who were not particularly satisfied with her arrival eventually get along with her; so does her younger sister, Madhumati (Spruha Joshi).  Her daughter, who she calls- Cookie (Pranjali Shrikant), struggles with adjusting to this new home of hers which adds to Saudamini’s inner-conflict. Further, she meets her old college-friend, Suresh (Sumeet Raghavan) as well as another US-return friend (played by Iravati Harshe). While Suresh rushes all the way from Mumbai to support her out of care, Harshe’s cheerful character seems to be lost in her own world, living as the housewife of a wealthy and successful husband.

All of these characters, as aforementioned, play a role in bringing about the perspectives of such individuals from reality. They represent different generations at times and share the outlook about the role of women in society. As the fierce PhD-graduate, Saudamini is supposed to give a lecture on the role of modern women. Still, she is in the state of agony before confronting to her husband. Meanwhile, the US-return friend doesn’t particularly care what her existence means on a bigger scale as much as she seeks for any way to get happiness. At the same time, young Madhumati is more upfront about her needs and desires while even fighting with her boyfriend, Sameer (Siddhartha Menon) about whether he deserves to have an upper hand in deciding what she is supposed to do.

The institutions such as home and family are often questioned with respect to the female characters from the film. While the older generation has some affection for calling their home as their own, the newer generations seem to be more flexible about its definitions. And with the changing role of women amidst all the bourgeois construct, it’s getting even more difficult to belong to a certain place due to its volatile nature.

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The performances are obviously a treat here, with a star-studded cast even through their small roles. Mrinal Kulkarni is brilliant portraying Saudamini’s often calm and vulnerable persona with just the right amount of fierceness and persistence. Her performance is complemented almost equally by every cast member. Especially her conversations with Mohan Agashe and Sumeet Raghavan are highly cathartic for her character. And the most impressive thing of the film is that the intellectual dialogues seem just as natural as any other. The authenticity furthermore, works even better with the film’s minimal approach. The silences have just enough space needed to fill out the weighty discussions.

The music is mostly breezy because of the tracks fusing with film’s narration almost seamlessly. The tracks ‘Kirr Raan’ and ‘Radhe Radhe’ add soulfulness without disturbing the flow of the narration. On the other hand, the track ‘Ya Khuda’ even after having a purpose falls short in the authentic depiction. While it presents the counter-culture often fuelled by carelessness and apathy, the film could have worked just as fine without it. But that isn’t much of a flaw as it is aware of the point it tries to convey.

Perhaps the only shortcoming I felt was a slightly convoluted ending, which tries to explain too much in a short duration. It’s not particularly bad in terms of character motivations. But it suddenly steps on a pedestal after the calm and understated flow throughout the film. Despite that, Welcome Home stands out in what the Marathi cinema had to offer this year so far. It’s another feather in the director duo’s illustriously bright career.


Welcome Home Trailer

Welcome Home IMDb

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

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