LICH rating: (2 / 5)
At the end of director Mahesh Manjrekar‘s Marathi outing Me Shivaji Park (I am Shivaji Park), you are left stunned, grasping at that numbing question, “What on earth was he thinking?” If nothing else, this is his cinematic totem of missed opportunities. And what a scintillating opportunity it was. Assembling some of the finest Maharashtrian actors on his call sheet—the dignified and powerful, twinkly-eyed Vikram Gokhale, the lovably malleable Dilip Prabhavalkar, the quietly intense Satish Alekar, the versatile Ashok Saraf, and the tending-to-ham but likeable Shivaji Satam—he proceeds to pack them into an enterprise that begins promisingly enough—the murder of a wannabe actress (played by Manjari Fadnis) by a high and mighty Balwa Seth (Uday Tikekar)—and then unravels and undoes the story as rapidly. The aforementioned stalwarts, Shivaji Park residents all, with a connection to the murder (that strangely becomes apparent to them only later), decide to turn into vigilantes to bring Balwa to justice. That they succeed so easily makes you want them to join and prop up the doddering gang of Rajkumar Santoshi‘s China Gate.
But that’s only the beginning. Unlike most of the retirees I’ve met, this gang doesn’t want to potter around the house and await their monthly pension, choosing, instead, gangsta ways over their family. Leaning on a puerile flashback—where Pravin Tarde plays one of the seniors in their youth, and which has Sharad Ponkshe in a chillingly effective act—the old chaps decide to go down Charles Bronson’s path one more time. This, when one of them, strongly opposed to their violent ways, gives you hope in terms of conflicting ideologies, but instead shadows his friends on a train wearing a monkey cap, tagged along by a reporter (Dipti Lele) wearing one of those shawls around her face a la the two-wheeler rider ladies of Pune. All of this to lead you to a lecturing end about the ills that the director purportedly set out to address via this tedium. Plus, there’s the investigating cop—played by Abhijeet Satam, senior Satam’s son in real life—that gets cornier by the scene. The twist involving him didn’t cause me to gasp; what did was the size of the TV in his living room.
The actresses too, when not handed short shrift are made to mouth unintentionally funny lines; truly, a waste of the talented Suhas Joshi, Bharti Achrekar, and Savita Malpekar.
There’s a scene where Vikram Gokhale’s character delivers a highlight soliloquy to his friends, pooh-poohing the relevance of Gandhian values in these times. That, they’re only material that’s picked off the showcase annually, dusted, and kept back. This movie belongs to another shelf, albeit with no shelf life.
LICH ratings chart
(1 / 5): Don’t bother
(2 / 5): Not too great
(3 / 5): Worth a watch
(4 / 5): Very good
(5 / 5): Drop everything else NOW
Me Shivaji Park is rated U/A (Parental Guidance for children below the age of 12 years) There’s violence and a sensual dance sequence.
Me Shivaji Park
Director Mahesh Manjrekar Running Time 2h
Writer Mahesh Manjrekar
Stars Vikram Gokhale, Ashok Saraf, Dilip Prabhavalkar, Satish Alekar, Shivaji Satam
Genres Crime, Drama