- BOTTOM LINE: A Directionless Political Satire
|Platform: Netflix||Genre: Comedy|
What is the Story about?
A suburb in Mumbai is all set to usher in Independence Day with pomp and colour. The community comprises a handful of people, young, middle-aged and old, who with their varied traits and demeanours, keep finding excuses to point a finger at each other. The crowd also includes a 20s something couple, a budding artist Raju and a poet Jui, whose relationship is on the rocks. Meanwhile, a gold ring that Raju buys for Jui accidentally falls into a pit. A kid Ninad attempts to collect the ring from the pit at the insistence of Raju. However, all hell breaks loose when Ninad’s hand is stuck in the hole. The plot deals with the drama that unfolds among the community members in their bid to rescue Ninad, also showing us the various twists and turns in the equation between Raju and Jui.
Mrinmayee Deshpande’s performance as Jui is the only saviour of the two-hour long narrative that’s all over the place. She fits right in the girl-next-door role, both with her performance and looks while showing considerable spunk in her portrayal. Rahul Pethe is saddled in the role of an artist who doesn’t meet his financial needs well and the poorly written character doesn’t give him much scope for a layered performance. Adinath Kothare comes rather late into the proceedings and he is the quintessential third person in a romantic triangle, that’s nothing more than a one-note role. The lesser said about his character, the better.
Direction By Swapnaneel Jayakar?
15 August is aimed to be a satire on every issue under the sun – politics, varied human behavior, relationships amid the backdrop of Independence Day celebrations at a suburb. The director Swapnaneel Jayakar uses a rather trivial crisis to go about his narrative, that is never witty enough to qualify as a quality satire.
The director crams too many characters, behaviors, and issues into one film and there’s no thread to bind them together at all. There’s not much scope for etching out quirks to every role and you don’t empathize with any character. The emotional connect suffers. In addition, the Independence Day premise too seems to be a force-fed one, where the significance of the day doesn’t add value to the story, at least not enough to qualify as a title. The climax was the director’s justification for the title probably, but you are too tired to even give it a chance by then.
The shifting priorities between the romance and the human drama show the inconsistency of the director. The supposed-dark humor begins to serve as a dose of unintentional humor, especially with a sequence where the child protagonist is shown to be urinating in a bottle. The director’s fetish for glorifying the absurd worsens the viewing experience. Even if you wait for the romance segments to offer some sparkle, there’s no hope at the end of the tunnel. 15 August only reiterates why films don’t only need promising stories but also adequate storytellers to execute them on the screen.
Vaibhav Mangale’s role can easily be named the most annoying of all characters in 15 August. It just shows how even a good actor can’t do anything to rescue a poorly conceived part. The likes of Jaywant Wadkar, Satish Pulekar, Naina Apte and Uday Tikekar don’t get to do much beyond filling up the frames.
Music and other departments?
Rohan provides the background score for 15 August and within the minimal scope the film has, the composer’s work is passable. Story and screenplay writer Yogesh Vinayak Joshi had all the material to ensure a promising film, blame it on the soulless execution for diluting the impact that the story had. Cinematographer Milind Jog captures the entire film in only a couple of set locations and the visual result is commendable within the restrictive scope of a low-budgeted Netflix original. On the whole though, it’s more disappointing when you see a film of such mediocrity being backed by a credible name like Madhuri Dixit.
Mrinmayee Deshpande’s performance
The basic premise of capturing human behaviour amid a crisis
No relevance to the title
Poorly etched characters
Will you recommend it?
15 August Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur
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