This refreshing Marathi coming-of-age film celebrates the misfit with charm and sincerity
A moody, up-and-coming Marathi film, ‘Habaddi’ is currently proving once again why regional cinema is becoming a crucial pan-Indian phenomenon. This directed and Yoodlee production by Nachiket Samant premiered on Netflix on August 1 and is already wowing critics and audiences alike with its heartfelt story of a young orphan who finds a way to defy fate, overcome a speech impediment and over Triumphing Tyrants Game of Kabaddi. This is the second ambitious Marathi project to be produced by Yoodlee Films, following their hugely successful zombie comedy Zombivli.
Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t miss it:
A refreshing and authentic premise
The film lets you see the world through the eyes of Manya (Karan Dave), a 10-year-old boy living in Kolhapur who is keen to travel to Mumbai with his school’s Kabaddi team. He also wants to meet Ketaki (Vedshree Mahajan), a girl from Mumbai who happens to be in love with him, but many adversities stand in his way. Because of his stutter, he can’t even say “Kabaddi, Kabaddi” properly and is a frequent target of jokes and bullying. With simplicity and sweetness, the film continues this narrative arc, taking us back to our childhood and infusing us with bitter, sweet nostalgia.
Memorable rural vignettes
With its rural setting, quirky characters and evocative imagery, the film creates many indelible vignettes as a tyrant throws Ketaki’s beautiful music box with his dancing ballerina down a well and Manya dives in to save her. Or when he tinkers with odds and ends to take things apart and put them back together. Or, by the way, he often skips school to hide from bullies and insensitive adults. Or the way a mentor helps Manya with his stuttering with a ventriloquist dummy. These little moments stay with the viewer long after the film ends.
Stunning cinematography by Riju Das captures with a sense of wonder the stirring yet intimate footage of Kolhapur and Manya’s many adventures and particularly his magical underwater dives. The idyllic landscape is framed by towering hills and windmills, where Manya and Ketaki spend time together and say goodbye, the dirt and grime players experience at Kabaddi Field, and the bustling energy of Mumbai are all captured by the camera brought to life with a great sense of immediacy.
A regional film with a universal message
There is a little bit of manya in all of us. We all deal with internal and external obstacles as we work toward our goals. We doubt ourselves or get the feeling that we are not enough. But as the film shows, all we have to do is work with what we have, accept our shortcomings, and pursue our dreams with single-minded determination. Manya may not be a superhero, but he thinks like one and doesn’t accept defeat no matter how many setbacks he takes.
An entertainer for the whole family
“Habbadi” is a rare example of a slice-of-life film that celebrates a child protagonist and tells an underdog’s story that is relatable for both children and adults. This is not a rushed film, it is carefully put together, has excellent production values and also a delightful cast of young and veteran Marathi talent like Rupesh Bane, Niranjan Javir, Jayesh Kardak, Mayur Khandge and Arya Naik. One of the film’s many highlights is the stirring music by Rohan-Vinayak.
The film will be streamed on Netflix. catch it now!