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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



Dry Day, Review: To avoid a hangover, stay drunk!

Dry Day, Review: To avoid a hangover, stay drunk!

A Marathi language film with an English name, Dry Day picks its title from the term used to define certain days in the year when liquor sales and serving are not allowed in a particular state, or even the entire country. The local or union government decides which days should be Dry. On such days, habitual drinkers stock-up alcohol or get it from smugglers/suppliers, and consume the stuff out of the range of the police patrols that are entrusted with enforcing the order.

Dry Day, not be confused with a 2017 short film with the same moniker, is indeed a story that takes place on such a Dry Day, but with so much liquor guzzling, it is a wonder that the film even got a release. India’s Central Board of Film Certification usually takes a dim view of liquor drinking scenes and insists that a statutory warning caption be inserted in every shot that shows people drinking, or, for that matter, smoking or consuming psychedelic drugs. Here, almost the entire film has a bunch of people drinking, and drinking, and...

It begins rather innocuously, with a young lecturer with a stubble along his jawbone (Yogesh Sohoni, of Asmita fame, who looks not a day above 21 and who is truly wasted here) walking towards his class and noticing a large stone on which is a Cupid mark in chalk, and around it are glass splinters, the remnants of a beer bottle. He chastises the class for the act and wants the doer to own-up. Getting no response, he punishes the entire class by asking them to clean-up the area around the stone. While they are at it, the students, all in the age-group of 16-18, start egging the professor on to talk about love and heat-break. He opens up, but the story he narrates is not about him but about a boy called Ajay (Ritwikk Sawant, on debut), a friend of his, and his heart-break, which happened on a Dry Day.

In an immature re-enactment of the break-up between Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyaya’s legendary characters Devdas and Paro, the two break-up. The bone of contention is another boy whom the girl (MonaLisa Bagal) loves dearly as her best friend, while Ajay sees him as her lover and his rival. He wanders around aimlessly with the lecturer-to-be and two other lumpen elements, who keep procuring liquor from all possible sources, taking swigs, in spite of it being a dry day, and wandering around aimlessly, trying to work out a strategy to get even with the perpetrator of the ‘crime’, the girl.

In fact, the ‘ringleader’ (Kailash Waghmare, overacting to the hilt), who seems to be in his late 30s, pulls up Ajay for choosing the wrong day for a break-up, since alcohol is the only cure for a broken heart. Remember Motilal and Dilip Kumar in Bimal Roy’s version of the novel, also called Devdas, and how Motilal gets Dilip Kumar addicted to the ‘elixir’? Three straight versions of the novel have been filmed in the last 75 years, one with ShahRukh Khan, not to mention spin offs like Dev D and Dass Dev. Comparisons, however, are not recommended, lest some harsh words find their way onto the page.

One such ploy is igniting and throwing a string of crackers in the girl’s compound, past midnight, which creates a furore, with the neighbours waking-up and blaming the girl’s family for the ‘uncaring’ act. A sub-plot is woven in with another girl, who sleeps on the terrace and apparently loves her neighbour, who also sleeps alone on the terrace. The two

love-birds communicate with each other through an improvised ‘string telephone’ late at night. Then, she bursts a bombshell: she is also in love with his friend. When her suitor expresses outrage, she reminds him that Draupadi had five husbands (in the Mahabhaarat), so why can’t she have just two? While at it, the stray men sing odes to Madira Devi, the local equivalent of Bachchus, although no such Devi is recognised or worshipped. The song goes ‘Daru ding dang’, daru being liquor. What all this has to do with the first scene of the film escapes us.

There are two other songs in the film: ‘Ashi kashi’, picturised on Vaman and MonaLisa, with Ash King and Jonita Gandhi providing playback. It is picturised in Kashmir, and is pleasing to the eyes. ‘Locha lapacha’ is sung by Benny Dayal, with three guys dancing while balancing beer bottles on their heads and using a handcart (pushcart) as a swing. This is not real and a mere drunken dream, with the two girls joining them, sometimes as policewomen and sometimes as wrestlers. Lyrics are written by Jai Atre and Sameer Samant while Ashwin Shrinivasan has scored the music. His songs are catchy, and never mind the pilfering of ‘Lungi dance’. But the background score is too much and too loud.

Rutwikk Kendre is the son of two theatre greats, Vaman Kendre and Gauri Kendre, and for sure he deserved a better break. Ayli Ghia (Hindi film Hunterr, Marathi: 35% Kathawar Pass), Parth Ghatge, Chinamay Kambli, Arun Nalawde, Sanika Mutalik (introducing) and Jairam Nair form the supporting cast. Dry Day has story and direction by Pandurang Jadhav, with screenplay and dialogue by Nitin Dixit. Both of them fail to make any impact.

Started February 2017, the movie had planned an initial release date of 03 November 2017, in the thick of the Diwali holiday season. That was shifted to 10 November. 2017. But it was only eight months later that it could be released. An educated guess would be that the film landed in serious trouble with the CBFC and had to battle it out to get approval, mandatory for theatrical release. It seems none the worse for it, since what see is liquor flowing like a river in a 125-minute stupor.

The quixotic Indian actor-filmmaker, late I.S. Johar was once asked in his fortnightly magazine column, “How to avoid a hangover?” In characteristic Joharian vein, he replied, “Stay drunk”. At the press preview, the writer-director said that there was a message in this entertainment coated film. Wonder what it was! Was he was suggesting that drinking is an evil or that drinking is the cure for all evils.

Anandsagar Production House presents this film, which the makers call a Marathi musical movie. Dry Day opened in Mumbai on 13 July, in peak monsoon. Alcoholics justify drinking when it rains by saying that the weather eggs them on. When it does not rain, they drink in sorrow, because it is not raining. Stay drunk?

Rating: * ½


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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