They mean well, the Karkhanis clan. After their eldest brother Purushottam dies, they want to cremate him the old-fashioned way, but then balk at the price of the wood.
An electric send-off it is for Puru dada. His final wish is to have his ashes scattered at the ancestral home, the fields he owns with his siblings and at Pandharpur. This forces his squabbling kin into a hellish road trip.
The dysfunctional brood in Mangesh Joshi’s Marathi-language Karkhanisanchi Waari is straight out of an Agatha Christie novel, with the knives out but without the murder. Every one of the Karkhanises has a burden to bear – the invisible baggage on the journey from Pune to Pandharpur.
The newly crowned patriarch Satish (Mohan Agashe), his brothers Pradeep (Pradeep Joshi) and Ajit (Ajit Abhayankar) and his sister Sadhana (Geetanjali Kulkarni) worry about how the family wealth will be split.
Purushottam’s son Om (Amey Wagh) hasn’t been able to hold down a job and is in danger of losing his girlfriend Madhuri (Mrunmayee Deshpande). Purushottam’s wife Indira (Vandana Gupte) learns a few things about Purushottam after his demise.
The entertaining black comedy, which is out on SonyLIV, shares several elements with movies of this type – the suggestion that familial familiarity has pickled into mutual contempt, the verbal feints and passive-aggressive moves, the humour that arises out of frustration and despair. What Karkhanisanchi Waari also has, unlike, say, Rajwade and Sons and Ventilator, is quirkiness soaked in bitterness.
The movie boldly dispenses with niceties and does not bother to make its characters likeable or even palatable. This is a lot low on capital and rich in invective. With every one of the family members striving to live up to Most Unvalued Person status, it’s hard to judge who the winner is by the end of 112 minutes.
As the Karkhanises try to put up a united front while chasing their individual dreams, the screenplay, by Mangesh Joshi and Archana Borhade, jangles with the things that they are unable to say to each other and the things they do end up saying. The movie even contradicts the recommendation that we shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, not even sparing Purushottam in its portrayal of a dyspeptic but also very relatable family.
This road trip with the seat belts off has its share of bumps. Mangesh Joshi (whose credits include the award-winning Lathe Joshi) overloads his characters with agony. The overly busy screenplay stretches the trip to Pandharpur and sometimes goes unto unwelcome directions.
The excellent cast always bring the film back on track. Karkhanisanchi Waari is seething with the kind of talent that Marathi cinema is known for. From Mohan Agashe to youngster Amey Wagh, these are actors who humanise their characters and actually look as though they belong to a real family unit – the kind that is unafraid to be inappropriate and honest to a fault.