Balak Palak

Uniformly well acted and liberally peppered with humour, a nostalgic trip to a bygone era

Starring: Prathamesh Parab, Shashwati Pimplikar, Madan Devdhar, Bhagyashree Shankpal, Rohit Phalke, Kishore Kadam, Sai Tamhankar
Directed by Ravi Jadhav
Rating: ***

Ravi Jadhav turns back the clock in Balak Palak (BP, short for Blue Prints of the kind people watched in video parlours and vcrs, often on the sly) to talk of the confusion and anticipation of adulthood that besieges every adolescent, regardless of time and place. Back in the early ’80s, in Mumbai’s resolutely middle-class chawls, nobody spoke about sex. Ever. But boys and girls were growing up together nevertheless and at some point they discovered they were different. 

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It starts with the sudden disappearance of a young woman who has apparently done something horrible (described in Marathi as ‘eating shit’) that the children are curious about. They try asking their parents, but are shooed away. Inevitably, they turn to the wise one, the boy from the wrong side of the tracks who naturally has greater access to its truths. He calls it ‘dhichak dhichak’ and takes them around the chawl to show them practical examples, without too much success. But there are books and movies to fuel the imagination. Jadhav effectively encapsulates the impact of the Bollywood machine through the popular dream song from Saheb.

Uniformly well acted and liberally peppered with humour, BP is a nostalgic trip to a bygone era. More importantly, it is a heartfelt plea for parents to shed inhibitions and help kids with the turmoil of growing up. The occasional preachiness then does not rankle too much.

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