Sealed with that swag (read move, style, behavior) EKK ALBELA rekindles our love for the pioneer in Bollywood's free style dance form - Bhagwan Dada who also got tagged as the 'Indian Douglas Fairbanks' (the legendary Hollywood action star).
Director Shekhar Sartandel first (credited for assisting Mahesh Manjrekar in VAASTAV before) takes a worthy nostalgia dip that tips and trips the lovers of golden era, old school romance dramas and musicals in a winningly pleasing ratio.
The inspired biopic is a fascinating, involving and informative insight into the making of BhagwanDada's most accomplished work - ALBELA that introduced Bhgawan Dada to the world.
With Mangesh Desai in his role of a lifetime that makes him inseparable from Dada on screen and amazingly beautiful turns from VidyaBalan as Geeta Bali, EKK ALBELA is a pleasing trip to the 50's for those who love nostalgia and want to know the inspiration behind the grace and the swagger in Amitabh Bachchan, Govinda and MithunDa's dance moves.
Writer Shekhar Sartandel and Amol Shetge rightly focus on the rise of Bhagwan Dada and his journey till ALBELA. While we see minute details in making Mahesh as close to ALBELA as possible, the same cannot be said about the settings which are sometimes out of sync.
The costume designing is comparatively better and the choice of extras is apt. the makers seem to have done some research as the junior artiste we see especially during the songs actually bear a resemblance to those who appeared in the original.
Shekhar Sartandel direction is simple, clear without much fuss. He shows his brilliance in filming those evergreen melodies - 'BholiSurat
' and 'Shola Jo Bhadke
' in particular that intoxicates you fully demanding repeat run. Marvelous.
The director also reveals some lesser known facts like Dada introduced fist fights in Bollywood in his action film BADLA. Though it is said to be a Marathi movie, almost half of the film is in Hindi and the Marathi portions are properly subtitled. We wonder why nobody in Bollywood thought of making a biopic on Bhagwan Dada.
As said earlier Mangesh Desai gives a performance of his lifetime. Winning in every moves as the character, dancer. The actor makes Bhagwan Dada his prop but doesn,t replicate dada and creates a distinctive portrayal of the legend. Outstanding.
Vidya Balan as Geeta Dutt is ravishing. The powerhouse performer adapts the yesteryears actress nuances, 'adas' effectively to match with the grace of Dada. It's a sheer delight to watch her perform 'Bholi Surat
' and 'Shola Jo Bhadke
' on screen. Though it is said to be her first Marathi film, Vidya's portion are in Hindi and the actress just utters one line in Marathi - 'shooting kadi aahe'. Vidya lives Geeta Bali on screen as desired. Lovers of the bygone era will be awed by her terrific turns.
Though the technicalities are not sound enough as it should have been, the makers have somehow managed to make the look and feel believable by the use of those props like fan, phone, posters. The movie is effectively photographed by UdayDevare. Santosh Mulekar music is up to mark.
The portions involving Raj Kapoor could have been worked out better as it had the potential to add depths and add layers. Some original shots of Bhagwan Dada doing his signature moves would have worked wonders.
All said and done, EKK ALBELA isn't that arty or intellectual, though it is artful and ingenious, it's a pleasing dip in nostalgia for those who cherish the golden era and love the way Bollywood dance.