The problem with PRANALI is that director Hridesh Kamble does not know how many elements to bring onto the screen. He has an interesting subject but manages to blow the gun in his face by going off track and telling too many stories. Instead of two hours, if Kamble had stuck to a little over an hour and eliminated the usual ‘politician wanting to take mileage’ situation he would have packed a mighty punch and saved the audience from boredom. In fact, this would have enabled the best scenes to stand out.
Kamble begins interestingly with the camera moving into the interiors of Maharashtra and focusing on the evil practice of Devdasi. From there, the story of Pranali (Nargis) moves to Mumbai in a Red Light area. How she is forced into the flesh trade where she gives birth to a child and her fight to legalize prostitution with the help of one NRI who visits her to write a book on her, which later becomes a bestseller. This same NRI, Vijay by name also adopts her daughter.
As a viewer, what irks you is the fact that Kamble has thrown away a huge advantage of beginning well to get into a muddle of telling the oft-told stories of the plight of a sex worker; the way they are taken advantage of and politicians making their presence with their hafta-seeking goons adorned with excessive kajal.
Instead of moving to Mumbai, Kamble should have stuck in the interiors of Maharashtra and focused more on the evils of the practice of Devdasi, and concentrated on the untold story, as his tag line suggests.
Nargis, who has been lured into being a devdasi and later into the sex racket, surprisingly maintains her sweet innocent looks inspite of going through the worst of nightmares. There is no ‘hardened’ sided to her, which is rather surprising for a woman who has been through much. Maybe the director was obsessed on focusing more on her soft features. She does a decent job, though.
However, for me, it is Upendra Limaye who stands out, as Sultan, the orphan boy who has been raised by Akka, Sudha Chandran the Madam. The scenes, where he ferries Pranali to meet her first customer and the one when he takes a young girl from an orphanage to visit a politician is especially touching.
TO GO OR NOT: Honestly speaking from the other two releases, MR WHITE MR BLACK and ANAMIKA, this movie stands a better chance.