The National Film Award-winning Goshta Eka Paithanichi (The Story of a Paithani Sari) is a big-screen version of the kind of modern fairy-tales you find in anthologies at roadside booksellers. The Marathi-language film (released in cinemas with English subtitles) revolves around a poor couple that gets into a pickle when they inadvertently damage an expensive Paithani silk sari.

Sujeet (Suvrat Joshi) lives with his wife Indrayani (Sayali Sanjeev) and son Shree (Aarav Shetye) in a modest rented house in a village. Indrayani supplements Sujeet’s income from flower selling by stitching falls to sari hems. Sujeet’s leg is in a cast after a recent injury – a contrivance to put him out of action so that Indrayani can set out alone on a journey of discovery.

That journey is necessitated when an expensive sari belonging to the family’s local benefactor Smita (Mrinal Kulkarni) gets soiled. Without a dry-cleaner in sight and terrified of the harm to their reputation, Sujeet and Indrayani try all kinds of remedies before coming up a solution that entails rides in State Transport buses and encounters with colourful characters.

A hand-woven garment of immense value, a Paithani sari can take close to a year to be completed. Shantanu Ganesh Rode’s film too takes its own sweet time in stretching out a yarn that ultimately doesn’t have enough threads to justify the 141-minute runtime.

The parable about the inherent goodness of humankind sometimes feels like it has wandered into the present from the 1950s. While Rode’s insistence on noble values and simplistic solutions feels hopelessly out of date, his lack of urgency leads to warm character portraits, observational humour and lovingly recreated details of village life.

The leads are in fine form, with Sayali Sanjeev especially benefitting from the screenplay’s focus on her character’s emotional arc. Mohan Joshi has a stand-out cameo as one of the people Indrayani meets in her quest to replace the stained Paithani.

Goshta Eka Paithanichi (2022).