In 2016 when Sairat released, no one possibly thought what a massive hit it was going to be. It will probably take some time for the Marathi film fraternity to settle down with that kind of mind-boggling success. Although Sairat was a rare gem, in recent times, Marathi film industry has consistently given us some great cinematic experiences. Be it Jogwa, Natarang or women-centric films such as Anandi Gopal, Nude and Aamhi Doghi. One such story of a mother’s unshakable courage that made its way to the cinemas is the 2019 release Hirkani.
What makes this Sonalee Kulkarni-starrer a must-watch? Here’s what…
Let’s begin with a small history lesson. Hirkani is the story that takes place in the reign of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. It is the story of a local woman Heera (Sonalee Kulkarni) and her husband Jeeva (Ameet Khedekar) who work at the Raigad fort. This is the fort that was strategically built by Shivaji Maharaj to guard the Maratha Empire. One of its sides had extremely vigilant security, while the other was unguarded as it rested over a steep drop of 2,500 feet. The rule of this fort was that a cannon ball would be shot every day at sunset to mark the closing of the fort’s gates. And these gates would open only at sunrise the next day. On one unfortunate day Heera is unable to leave the fort before the doors shut and is stuck in the fort. She makes a heartfelt plea to the guards because her infant is home alone and hungry. But when the plea falls on deaf ears this simple villager transforms into a fearless mother. She descends the deathly ‘kada’ of the Raigad fort, enduring terrible bruises and excruciating pain. Her challenges do not end there. When she sprints to her home, she sees the wolf that has been giving villagers sleepless nights hovering near her house. Overcoming all her fear, and using the last iota of energy, she kills the carnivore and runs to hold her baby in her arms.
Well that being the story, it is beautifully brought to the silver screen by Prasad Oak’s directorial skills. The camera angles, the sets and the background music elevate each scene. And to reserve the biggest praise for last, Sonalee Kulkarni dazzles in the titular role. Right from her dialogue delivery, facial expressions and body language, she is spectacular as Heera. The supporting cast also plays their parts to a tee. What could be a little disappointing is that lot of time is spent on building characters in the first half. More screen time could have been given to the legendary descent itself.