Awareness campaigns mostly are boring and unattractive. Save trees, Save planet, Save paper, and also Save tigers; they all look like someone ordering us to do something that we are not really interested in. Most of these campaigns lack the much-needed emotional connect and therefore people don’t see it as an important or their own thing.
Usually filmmakers keep away from such serious and important issues because all filmmakers don’t have the talent to adapt such issues into an effective narrative. Last year Satish Rajwade, with his film Popat, made a good effort to reach out to audiences on the AIDS problem. And now, Sujay Dahake, who had made us re-visit schooldays with his remarkable debut film Shala, has chosen a rather difficult subject for his latest film Ajoba.
Ajoba is a pug-by-pug true account of a leopard’s miraculous and thrilling 29-day journey from Pune to Mumbai. The leopard’s movement was mapped with the help of a SIM card, fitted into his tail after he was rescued and freed in the Malshej Ghat.
A few minutes into Ajoba and you realize you are in for something unusual. The excellent cinematography by Diego Romero Suarez Llanos and pulsating background score by Saket Kanetkar grab you from the beginning and compel you to become part of Ajoba’s adventurous journey. The hand-held camera and the sound recorded in sync technology have contributed a lot in making the film lively. Sound designing by Nimish Chheda and Avinash Sonawane add to the film’s advantage. The late Nimish Chheda needs a mention here as he will definitely be missed by some good filmmakers.
Urmila Matondkar looks very energetic and completely engaged in the role of wildlife activist Purva Rao. It’s really good to see her after such a long time; and also in an impressive role.
The best performance, however, comes from Hrishikesh Joshi as Dynanoba or Dynaneshwar. He is surely one of the finest and highly talented contemporary actors in Marathi cinema. He makes his characters so authentic that we can’t forget them unless we see him again in some other role. Hrishikesh Joshi has wonderfully portrayed Dynanoba’s initial resistance to join Purva’s team, his gradually-developing curiosity and interest for the work, and finally his love and pain for the innocent leopard. It’s Dynanoba, who makes us feel for Ajoba.
The director has roped in all good actors so you can expect only good things from Om Bhutkar, Shrikant Yadav, Yashpal Sharma, Dilip Prabhawalkar, Shashant Shende, Neha Mahajan, Anita Date and Chinmay Kulkarni. Om Bhutkar, though, makes most of the opportunity.
There was certainly some scope to better the screenplay and also to cut a few minutes of the length, but it all seems negligible in front of the director’s passion and intentions. With Ajoba, Sujay Dahake has made a very good effort in reminding humans of their nature; and that they need to be more sensible and sensitive towards the ecological system and help the nature to co-exist. With this film, the director has tried to give the much-needed emotional connect to the wildlife conservation campaigns.
It will be wrong to say that not all people will like this film. In fact, all of us should watch this one. Because all films are not meant to serve cheap entertainment; some of them have the right to hold mirror at our faces. Good job Sujay, keep it up!