Marathi cinema

In Marathi film ‘Cycle’, a love story between a man and his two-wheeler

Starring Hrishikesh Joshi, Priyadarshan Jadhav and Bhalchandra Kadam, the film will be released on May 4.

Keshav’s world revolves around his sparkling yellow cycle. The warm-hearted fortune-teller lovingly shares stories of his bicycle with his young daughter and never steps out without it. What happens when the cycle is stolen? This love story between a man and his humble two-wheeler forms the crux of Prakash Kunte’s upcoming Marathi film Cycle.

“It could have been anything. It could have been a pen or a scooter. But the cycle has a certain charm,” Kunte told Scroll.in in an interview. A yellow bicycle adorned with string lights was also the highlight of the press event for the film in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Written by Aditi Moghe, Cycle is set in 1958, and stars Hrishikesh Joshi, Priyadarshan Jadhav and Bhalchandra Kadam. The May 4 release has been produced by Happy Minds Entertainment and Viacom18 Motion Pictures.

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Cycle (2018).

While the film reflects contemporary concerns, Kunte felt the 1950s were better suited to the story. “In Marathi there is a term called bapda and a rough translation of that can be ‘innocence’,” Kunte explained. “Probably in that time, the innocence in people was better than how it is today. That was the assumption. We wanted to carry forward this assumption and place the film in that period.”

Moghe, who wrote the script and then approached Kunte to direct it, was of the same opinion. “It had to be a period film because the importance of cycles at that time was more than ever,” she said. “Now cycles are available in abundance.”

For Moghe, compassion was another feature of that period. “I was also raised in a fairytale-esque, ideal environment where everyone is nice and takes care of everybody, where the world is beautiful,” she said. “I belonged to people who believed in goodness. And that is how I wanted to do something that is about the beauty of goodness. Because that is all I have known.”

The goodness of the characters stood out for Kunte too when he read the screenplay. “The main character is a very good man,” Kunte said. “So when he loses his cycle, his villagers too grieve along with him. The thieves too are good people in their own way. The way the characters in the film behave is very ideal. There is an assumed goodness in people. Nowadays there is not much innocence left in the world.”

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Cycle (2018).

Moghe drew the idea of the film from her father, who too is a bicycle enthusiast. “My father happens to be someone who loves cycles,” Moghe said. “Right now there are about three cycles in my house. He has been obsessed with cycles for the past 25 years now. But he has lost a few and those were stolen. Generally when you lose something, you get over it in two or three days. You feel bad for it but you move on. But he never moved on. That was the key to my story.”

In Kunte’s film, the cycle has profound meaning. “Be it a rich person or a poor person, he or she would have driven a cycle at least once in their lives,” Kunte said. “That is how we centred the story on the cycle. Moreover the cycle was used widely at the time and now it is slowly coming back. The cycle is a metaphorical element in the film, but I cannot reveal what the metaphor signifies.”

Moghe first collaborated with Kunte on his 2015 debut, Coffee Ani Barach Kahi. “The equation with him is such that any story that comes to my head, I share it with him because we began the journey of filmmaking together,” Moghe said. “Somehow in my head I wanted both of us to do this project together. He wasn’t very sure to do it initially because it is a little difficult to handle this subject because it is a period film. You have a lot of limitations in terms of shooting style.”

Play
Cycle (2018).
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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.