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Times of India
Biopics have become the flavour of the season with the Hindi industry riding high on their success. Marathi films have had their share of biopics but most of these were about politicians. 'Ekk Albela', on the other hand, is a tribute to Indian's cinema's Douglas Fairbanks - Bhagwan Abaji Palav aka Bhagwan Dada.
The older generation is familiar with Bhagwan's story. A labourer who harboured dreams of acting in films made it big in the industry despite not being the conventional good-looker; a man who had a fleet of seven cars (one for each day of the week) and someone who started out with B-grade action films but hit gold with a 'social film' titled Albela. Bhagwan was the poster-boy of the rags-to-riches story. His life post 'Albela' too was a topic of hot discussion especially since he lost all that he had earned. Anyway, 'Ekk Albela' doesn't really delve into that. It is essentially a biopic that focuses on Bhagwan Dada's journey up to the time when he reached the peak of his career with 'Albela'.
There are many legends around Bhagwan's life and 'Ekk Albela' incorporates most of them. Be it him heeding Raj Kapoor's friendly advice, making stuntmen dance in his film or getting Geeta Bali, a star then, on board 'Albela', this film has it all. What it doesn't have is flow.
Right from the start, the film appears to be random. It is more of a montage of scenes put together rather than a story taken forward. This is the drawback of the biopic because the viewer doesn't really associate with any scene or character due to the abruptness.
Recreating an era is a task and minute attention is needed to get the artwork right. 'Ekk Albela' takes the simpler way; it makes use of tight frames to restrict detailing on the periphery.
The strength of this film is in the performances of its main characters. Mangesh Desai is bang on as Bhagwan Dada. He gets the mannerisms and expressions perfectly and is a delight to watch. Vidya Balan as Geeta Bali looks beautiful and does what's required of her. Vidyadhar Joshi is another person to look out for. His negative portrayal of distributor Chandubhai Mehta evokes hatred.
For the music aficionados, this one brings back memories of 'Albela' with renditions of 'Bholi soorat dil ke khote', 'Shola jo bhadke' and 'Dheere se aaja re'. Rest assured, you would walk out of the cinema hall humming the songs. The music and performances stay with you but as a complete film, 'Ekk Albela' doesn't really fire.
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