A boy from an “untouchable” caste struggles to impress a socially superior schoolmate in nagraj manjule’s exceptional debut, “fandry”. By beautifully constructing his narrative to form a multidimensional image of a village in the state of Maharashtra, the writer-director poignantly captures his young protagonist’s yearning and humiliation along with the social and familial constraints that chain him. Just as the story warms up, Manjule hits with a shocking finale, demonstrating his sophisticated understanding of nuanced storytelling. winner of the mumbai festival grand jury prize, “fandry” (the title refers to a type of wild pig) should be chosen by festivals around the world.
jabya (somnath avghade) and her family come from the kaikadi tribe, a traditionally nomadic people considered “dalit” or untouchable. They eke out a living selling wicker baskets, but Jabya’s father, Kacharu (Kishor Kadam), is frequently called upon for all tasks considered below the dignity of the city, including the removal of nuisance boars considered particularly dirty. Jabya cringes at the humiliation, especially since he has fallen in love with his classmate Shalu (Rajshree Kharat), from one of the higher ranking families.
jabya is dying for new clothes, but every time she thinks mommy nani (chaya kadam) will give her some change to buy a pair of jeans, she says they can’t spend any money. Along with his friend Piraji (Suraj Pawar), Jabya attempts to capture a mythical Black Sparrow: He’s been told you can hypnotize a person by throwing Black Sparrow ashes at them, and he’s eager to try it on the unreachable Shalu. but the bird (glimpsed in computer-animated form) remains out of his reach forever.
Pressures on the family mount when they have to secure a dowry for jabya’s sister, surki (aishvarya shinde). Increasingly irritable and accustomed to the contempt of those around him, Kacharu does not recognize his son’s dreams or his embarrassment in front of his classmates; only chankya (helmer manjule, awesome), the eccentric, alcoholic bike repairman, treats jabya with respect.
teenage crushes are usually handled smartly on screen, but manjule keeps the sugar levels low, supplying just enough to cast a sweet glow, especially in a beautiful montage sequence in which jabya reads aloud uploads a love letter he wrote to the noble girl of his dreams. however, it is the sense of balance in “fandry” that is most notable, as the film alternates between the usual scenes of children being, well, children, and the particular burden of jabya as the only kaikadi in town. /p>
The pacing occasionally drops, especially in a late scene of the family trying to kill a pig, but then the film climaxes with a harrowing final shot whose ramifications are on bullying and violence, with a twist of david and goliath, remain in the brain after the end credits have rolled. Also of note is an excellent sequence at the village fair, edited into an increasingly intense beat, with chankya dancing in an eerily frenetic manner. somehow feels out of place, what exactly is the message? — but it’s too good to examine too much.
chandan arora’s edit (“krrish 3”) expertly creates scenes, and while the pig sequence is overly long and repetitive, the total running time doesn’t extend beyond the average international independent film. the images are attractive, with great use of the surrounding countryside, such as a wide shot of the flaxen plains, although the hues tend to fade in daylight, at least in the dcp. the computer effects for the pig are a bit weak when viewed on a big screen, but few will complain. aloknanada dasgupta’s compositions are pleasingly understated, even if manjule occasionally cuts the music too early.