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Netflix’s ‘15 August’ Is Endearing But Not Quite Satisfying
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Netflix’s ‘15 August’ Is Endearing But Not Quite Satisfying

The film has been produced by Madhuri Dixit and Shriram Nene.

Updated
Movie Reviews
3 min read

15 August

Netflix’s ‘15 August’ Is Endearing But Not Quite Satisfying

After the weighty Firebrand, Netflix has released its second original Marathi film, 15 August. Taking on a lighter veil than its predecessor, the Madhuri Dixit and Shriram Nene production is a slice of life drama that mines the familiar territory of a Mumbai chawl to drive its story.

The Swapnaneel Jaykar directorial examines the concept of freedom, both literally and figuratively, through events that unfold over a few hours as the residents of one Gandhi chawl prepare for their annual flag-hoisting ceremony.
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In the first of two parallel narratives, there’s Ninad (Aaryan Menghji), a young boy who gets his hand stuck in a hole in the centre of the courtyard that was to be used prop up the flagpole. The other is the tale of a young couple – Raju, a lovelorn struggling artist, and Jui who must choose between eloping with him or agreeing to marry the NRI boy her parents have picked out for her.

Madhuri Dixit on the sets of her Netflix production 15 August.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

The film attempts to use the Mumbai chawl, where privacy is an alien concept and your business is everyone else’s but your own, as a microcosm of urban India. And for a while, it works. For anyone who has lived in a middle-class neighbourhood in Mumbai or is acquainted with the middle-class Maharashtrian ethos, the film’s colourful characters are instantly recognisable.

There’s a warm sense of familiarity that washes over you when you’re introduced to the residents of Gandhi chawl in the opening montage – whether it’s the Jack-of-all-trades who makes it his business to educate all and sundry on topics he knows little about or the busybody aunty who manages to spy on people despite being nearly blind.

However, much like the residents who attempt to extricate Ninad from the hole he’s stuck in with tactics that begin with the logical and get progressively more hare-brained, the writers appear to run out of ideas to drive the story forward about halfway through.

15 August revolves around the events that unfold in a Mumbai chawl one Independence Day.
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)
The characters never really develop beyond their idiosyncrasies, which make their shenanigans eventually grow tiresome.

As Raju, Rahul Pethe endears himself mostly because he reminds you of that Sensitive Artist Boy™ you were once madly in love with when you were 18. But despite being the protagonist, he has precious little to do and spends most of the film standing around moodily – though I suppose one could argue that it is on brand for his character.

The will-they-won’t-they tension between him and Jui (Mrunmayee Deshpande) is never fully explored. Even if the happy ending was inevitable, some well-placed twists and turns could have drummed up the stakes for the viewer.
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15 August is a pleasant enough film to occupy a Saturday afternoon. But one can’t help wishing its talented cast had a defter screenplay to help elevate it beyond a one-time watch.

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