Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Pune 52

Why must a detective in a film wear a grey trench coat and a fedora? This is not a Sherlock Holmes archetype, he had a pipe, and the magnifying glass (?). This is a classic film noir imagery borrowed from 1940s Hollywood films, popularised by, among other people, Humphrey Bogart, in films like ‘The Big Sleep’ and The Maltese Falcon’.

The very image, a shadowy figure (the fedora reminds me of Alain Delon in French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville’s ‘Le Samoura├»’ (1967)), you can hardly see his face under the hat and a cloud of smoke from his cigar, represents the archetype of a tortured hero, a man with a past. Here’s how a film noir works: As the story begins, we meet the cynic detective, who has given up on himself and the morally-degraded world around him. Right now, he’s nothing but a hired hand. He gets a case, which on paper looks very easy. However, as he begins his investigations, his personal life becomes entangled in the web of deceit he was hired to uncover. He meets a femme fatale, the ruthless, beautiful woman who toys with him, and the damsel in distress, the pure, innocent girl he must save and fall in love with. (This is also the James Bond archetype: Two woman at the opposite end of the moral compasses, the pure one and the seductress, and Bond must choose; first he flirts with the seductress and then walk into the sunset with the pure one; everybody is happy.) (Remember Dev Anand shuttling between Shakila and the then newcomer Waheeda Rehman as the femme fatale in CID (1956).)

Despite the presence of this ubiquitous image, to meet this detective, in his hat and all, in a Marathi film, that too titled ‘Pune 52’, is little disorienting. I have never seen anyone wear a fedora in Pune, at least in public. Once I had purchased a cowboy hat in Matheran, an impulse purchase; it still hangs on my wall, never dared to don it in public.

As I continue to watch the ‘first look’ in youtube, the black and white scenes of the detective chasing a suspect turns into a middle class couple riding a scooter. I am relaxed, we are on familiar ground.

Now, the trailer of the film, produced by Umesh Kulkarni and directed by Nikhil Mahajan arrives and they do away with that B&W fedora detective to show what the film is about — a moral story of a man caught into situations beyond his control. He is Amar Apte (played by Girish Kulkarni, perhaps his first role where he’s playing a man about town), and as the trailer opens, a policeman asks, “You know who I am? Apte replies, ‘Bharkhao’ (the English subtitle translate it as ‘son of the bitch’, which I think is not a correct translation!). Then we get to see the glimpses, and we know we are in a film noir — there’s his wife and there is the other woman, and Amar Apte says in the voiceover, “I’m the same man.” We are sure by the film ends, he wouldn’t remain the same man. Of course.

Pune 52 is the pin code of the Karve Nagar, Warje area, the downtown, predominantly Marathi residential locality which saw an incredible growth post 1990s. As a friend once explained to me, when Sadashiv Peth, the heart of the original Pune, could not contain the rise of population anymore, Warje was the alternative.

The first look of the film here.
The trailer here.
'Like' Pune 52 in Facebook.
Pune 52 in IMDb.

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