Directed by: Rajeev Patil
Akshay Kumar’s first Marathi production, 72 Miles – Ek Pravas, is based on a true story of Ashok Vhatkar, about a 13 year old boy, who is sent off to boarding school by his parents, but dislikes it so much he runs away. The film tells his story as he travels all the way back home to Kolhapur by foot. Along the way, he meets a woman and her four children, who he travels most of the way with.
Ashok is sent off to boarding school for being troublesome, but it isn’t so clear whether he is actually that much trouble, or just misunderstood. The film highlights a number of social issues throughout his journey. He gets mugged by alcoholics, and has to travel by foot because he then has no money, and he also gets beaten for being of a lower caste. It also portrays, almost disturbingly, the plight of the poor in India, and how they are treated. There are some helpful and kind people who the characters meet along the way, so it’s not an unfair portrayal, but because of this, I think the message, if there is one, is a little unclear.
The kid playing Ashok’s acting is okay, but some scenes suffer because of the dubbing. He only really has one expression on his face, which doesn’t always work, especially when he stares. The woman who meets the along the way, Radhakka, is actually who the story should be about, and Smita Tambe’s performance is memorable. It’s quite a clever way of presenting this short part of her whole life, and I imagine it works really well in the book as well, though considering its supposedly based on a true story, it might be coincidental.
The film has a couple of songs, but they are nothing special. It’s not really a musical, so there’s no emphasis on the music. From a technical aspect it’s competently made, though at times the constraints of the budget become a little too apparent, and also the editing could have been a little neater. A few technical hitches aside, it’s a good film with a story worth watching it for.
72 Miles – Ek Pravas screened at the London Indian Film Festival on 20th July 2013, and releases on 9th August 2013.