A brilliant combination of wit, satire and romance, Brahmachari, a bilingual made in Marathi and Hindi, boldly ridiculed puritanical social norms and at the same time had the audience laughing uncontrollably.
In the film, an ordinary young man, Audumbar (Vinayak), inspired by a militant lecture on bachelorhood and nationalism by Deshbhakta Jatashankar (Javdekar), renounces his sexual desire, throws away his collection of movie star posters, starts exercising his muscles in the tradition of Hanuman’s disciples and joins the Self-Help Institute of the Acharya Chandiram (Damuanna Malvankar) where he devotes himself to spinning and wielding the broom. All his discipline however comes to naught as he encounters Kishori (Meenakshi Shirodkar), the young and charming dayghter of a visiting forest officer. The god of celibacy has to beat a hasty retreat leaving Audumbar at the mercy of the God of Love!
The film owes its success to the dialogues by Acharya PK Atre in the Marathi version and Pandit Indra in the Hindi version. The situations in which the hero finds himself sparkle with wit and the film moves along at a quick tempo greatly helped by Vinayak’s performance in the central role, a simple minded innocent pitted against entrenched hypocrisy and fossilized beliefs. In the Hindi version Vinayak was called Kanhaiya and was a total antithesis of the original Kanhaiya (Lord Krishna) the great lover. Vinayak’s aversion to religious bigotry and social hypocrisy combined with Atre’s keen sense of satire make for an extremely entertaining film with outrageous humour and gentle mockery.
Damuanna Malvankar has his first major success in the role of the Acharya Chandiram. Meenakshi Shirodkar also makes her first appearance in a Vinayak film. She went on to act in several of his films – Devata (1938), Brandichi Batli (1939), Ardhangi (1940) and Badi Maa (1945). Her granddaughters, Namrata and Shilpa Shirodkar, would also make a mark for themselves as actresses in the Hindi film industry in the 1990s and 2000s.
Brahmachari was a roaring success and made screen history by running for twenty-five weeks in Bombay and fifty-two weeks in Pune. Incidentally, it was perhaps one of the earliest Indian films in which the heroine appeared in a bathing costume in a sensational seduction song, Yamuna Jali Khelu Khel!
Marathi, Comedy, Black & White