I finally saw "Mee Shivaji Raje Bhosale boltoy". I had to find out what the buzz was all about. A 3.5 crore budget, three times the norm for Marathi films, people whistling, flinging money at the screen, booked out shows.
Lovely. But on what premise is this success based? On the premise that Marathis have been, and are being, wronged in their own State, particularly in its capital, Mumbai. The representative victim is one totally unbelievable character called Dinkar Bhosale. He is a bank clerk. Not the type we know who doesn't look up while you're standing before his window for a quarter of an hour and when he does, it's like you're a worm deserving to be crushed but he's saddled with this unreasonable job of being at your service.
This bank clerk gets shouted at, abused, ridiculed and pushed around by everybody from the Kolin in the fish market and Gujarati shirt shop owner to his South Indian boss and Marathi wife. He's also taken for a ride by other Marathis--BMC engineers, bureaucrats, politicians, and of course, the police because they are all in the pay of one Gujarati builder-cum-goonda, Ghosalia
Bhosale has a daughter who's 'n' times smarter than him. But when she auditions for a film she gets rejected because she's a Marathi. The director is of the opinion that a Marathi name in Hindi films is very down-market! If at that moment names like Nalini Jaywant, Shobhana, Nutan and Tanuja Samarth, Smita Patil, Urmila Matondkar and Madhuri Dixit whiz through your mind, let them whiz on. Forty years of political rhetoric have made the wronged man image of the Marathi manus a deeply cherished one.
The point of creating an unbelievable loser like Bhosale (till now I'd thought Devdas was the bench mark) is to show that Marathis are to blame for their plight. And the point of showing they are to blame for their plight is to show how they can recover their rights by giving it back as good as they get and putting the corrupt to shame. The point of burdening the totally inept, inadequate, unprepared Bhosale with the job of taking on the world is to bring Shivaji into the picture. It is his power alone that can put iron into Bhosale's (an by implication, other Marathis') jelly spine. All pepped up, Bhosale sallies forth. The corrupt cringe in the light of his moral fire. He delivers thundering speeches (clever dialogue by Sanjay Pawar); and when push comes to shove, he uses Shivaji's Bhavani sword (alleged to be in England) to wound the last bastion of the corrupt--Ghosalia. All the Marathis who've been bribed by him have already returned his petis and khokas in abject shame, and thumped their chests, echoing Bhosale's slogan "I'm proud to be a Maharashtrian". Bhosale is a public hero.
All's well that ends well. Bhosale's daughter opts out of the Hindi film world and does the safe thing-- she signs three Marathi films. With the signing amount she gets, her father fulfills his son's long-cherished dream of owning a bike. Fairy tale over.