Sharmistha Saha is a student of Performance Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.
Maunraag (Monologue) directed by Vaibhav Abnave, which was an Official Selection for India Gold 2013 competition section of the 15th Mumbai Film Festival and is in Marathi cinema competition at the 12th Pune International Film Festival of 2014 and is also to be screened at the International Film Festival of South Africa (IIFFSA) 2014, is a film that one should watch out for purely because of the experience it provides one with. The film leads its audience through white images dodged and scratched and a sound that almost physically effects and then suddenly drops them in a space that is a dreamscape.
Inspired by Mahesh Elkunchwar’s essays called Maunraag and several other of his works, the film from the word go has no pretensions to make. Maunraag is a film that demands that you travel through the dreamscape that it creates for you. A dreamscape that Elkunchwar asks us to think about, and Abnave puts across in a medium distinct from that of the playwright’s. But what Abnave seeks to do at the same time is to create a space and time which is cinematic as also theatrical.
In fact the long tracking shots make one feel that one is moving from one staged visual to the other within the space of a gallery. Maunraag does not tell you any story. At least not the kind of story that attempts reconciliation. It rather creates relationships – between the playwright and the rehearsing actors, the actors on stage and the gazing audience, it even puts the audience in the screen space as a boy who moves from scene to scene witnessing the actor rehearse, act, dream. It in that sense tries to be a total work of art.
Ultimately Maunraag leaves you with thoughts on life and that quintessential existential question. In doing so it leads you to an experience of a singular being merging with the universe which Elkunchwar in his own way does in his dramatic exploits. The brilliant performances especially of Gajanan Paranjape and Madhuri Purandare make such a journey possible.