Dance films are not known to have great plots. For some reason, the puerile plots have never been an obstacle for these films to get popular. People watch these films only for the adrenalin rush they get by watching the crazy dance they have. So I went into Aayna Ka Baayna, the first Marathi dance film that presents Western dance forms, without expecting any solid plot or characters. The dance seemed impressive from the promos and I had mentally prepared myself to not look for any plot and just enjoy the dancing. But, rather surprisingly, the first half of the film left me impressed not only with its dancing but also its introduction of the characters and the plot. There were quite a few seeti-maar dialogues too. The first half gave me a feeling that this might turn out to be the first dance film I have seen with a good plot. Unfortunately, post- interval the infamous second half syndrome crept in and washed away almost all of whatever little good, in terms of substance, the film had promised before.
Aayna Ka Baayna is a story of how a group of nine young boys from a remand home find new meaning to their lives and an urge to fulfill their dreams after they learn how to dance. But Harshwardhan Sathe(Sachin Khedekar), the warden of the Remand Home, is a strict disciplinarian who believes only in the use of the stick. The boys wish to take part in a dance competition but the stubborn Sathe is not willing to allow them. The boys though are desperate and hence they decide to flee the remand home.
The film begins with the boys escaping the hostel from right under the nose of the terrorizing warden, Sathe. The police are informed and the hot pursuit begins. As the chase is on we are introduced to each of the nine boys as we come to know how each of them landed up in the remand home. Most of these stories which tell us about their background are quite engrossing. This whole segment makes for a gripping first half.
Another major plus of the film is Sanjay Jadhav’s camerawork. It gives the film a stylish look which marathi films seldom have. The way the title song is shot is quite stunning. However, I felt the hurried pace of the film doesn’t give you much of a chance to enjoy the visuals. Same is the case with the dances. To a layman like me who doesn’t know head or tail about dance forms, the dances in the film are definitely eye-catching. But I think they would have made a greater impact had the camera lingered on for a little longer on the dances instead of the flashy cuts every few seconds that the editor has employed.
The acting in the film is mostly very average. Sachin Khedekar easily shines out as the fear-inducing warden and so does Ganesh Yadav as the cop. Everybody else right from the nine boys to Amruta Khanvilkar as the dance teacher fail to create much of an impression.
Now, let’s get to the part where the film falters. Even almost half-way into the second half Aayna Ka Baayna is still passable. I didn’t have a problem with the film’s predictability. Whether the boys will reach the competition and end up winning it is anybody’s guess. But you are left baffled by some developments as we inch closer to the finale like how one of the boys starts dancing just a few hours after he has severely injured his leg. Though he is shown to suffer from great pain, it is totally unbelievable that one can even walk let alone dance after such a serious injury. Then, it takes only one emotional dialogue for the thick-skinned warden Sathe to melt and even start dancing, much to the audience’s shock and amusement. The striking dance sequences towards the end is also marred by the entry of a boy who has a limp. Now, nowhere earlier were we introduced to that boy so his entry certainly makes you feel rather clueless.
So, Aaayna Ka Baayna is a film that did have a few things going for it but some big blemishes towards the end leaves you disappointed. You may watch it only because such a display of Western dance forms is rare not only in marathi but the whole of Indian cinema. And yes, the stylish camerawork deserves a watch too.