Uttarayan is a unique gem that succeeds in questioning social mores of our times while continuing to keep viewers entertained. Bipin Nadkarni positions himself as a thinking man’s director with his bold choice of unconventional subject and further solidifies his multi-disciplinary excellence with a screenplay that would make Jaywant Dalwi proud (based on play by Jaywant Dalwi)
Although the film primarily tackles the romance between two long lost friends in their 50s (Durgi played by Nina Kulkarni and Raghu played by Shivaji Satam, two performers at the prime of their art), it also wrestles issues of patriarchy, nostalgia, generation gap and unfulfilled aspirations in a subtle manner.
Nostalgia is captured through Raghu’s interactions with his friend (Baburao played by Viju Khote) and his daily routines in the lower middle class surroundings that he has returned to after a gap of several years. The backdrop of housing societies, wooden benches in little parks and quaint temple will fondly remind viewers of several Maharashtrian localities in Dadar or Pune (That India of the past is getting fast dismantled is another matter).
Cinematography is exceptional especially in one moment when camera takes a long, low angle sweep at the vast mansion lost by Durgi and her mother (Uttara Baokar in scintillating performance) as it moves toward the servant’s quarters where the two now reside.
The unforgettable quality of the film lies in its depiction of old age romance as primarily a profoundly simple and simply uncomplicated affection between the two protagonist. Romance in the modern parlance has taken such physical connotations that this disarming, platonic love story begs to be called something else. Whatever we brand it, the daily exchanges accompanying their burgeoning relationship are essentially beautiful and that alone is a reason enough to warrant a look at this soulful film.