A movie that will inspire you, give you goosebumps, make you cry and perhaps even make you wonder that somewhere you are leading a largely self-centered life. This is the story of Dr. Prakash Baba Amte - a gentleman who sadly does need introduction for many in India.
A biopic on the life of a man (and his wife) who selflessly worked for the upliftment of Adivasis (tribals) in the Hemalkasa region of Maharashtra while giving up what would have been a luxurious and comfortable life had they been doctors in a large hospital anywhere in the country.
The plot is a real life story of Dr. Prakash (Nana Patekar) and his wife Dr. Mandakini (Sonali Kulkarni) who along with their colleagues decide to ‘settle down’ by a riverside in the forest of Hemalkasa. Here begins their journey of busting tribal myths, getting tribals to take medication for illnesses instead of going to tantriks, helping them fight police atrocities, providing their children with schooling, and dealing with pressure from Naxalites and corrupt government officials in order to create an ecosystem where humans, animals and nature coexist.
Sounds intense, doesn't it? Well that’s the beauty of the movie - a powerful plot that has been beautifully presented in bite sized nuggets.
Dr. Prakash Baba Amte – The Real Hero presents itself with a strong dose of social messaging; that of the life of tribals in India and the need for doctors (and administrators) in the country to think beyond a comfortable well paying career. While the message is strong, the movie does not seem like a dragged sob story. Each element of Dr. Prakash’s journey unfolds through crisp scenes with concise yet strong content intertwined with humour, witty comments, and at times sarcasm, making it an interesting watch.
The cast is perhaps the best part of the movie. Nana Patekar delivers Dr. Prakash Amte brilliantly with his depiction of humility, selflessness, sense of duty, fearlessness when it came to standing up for what is right and empathy towards the sufferings of tribals. Sonali Kulkarni also deserves mention for playing the dutiful wife and a strong willed resilient doctor. Mohan Agashe has a brief but impactful role as Baba Amte. The tribals depicted in the movie are worth noting as they comprise of a mix of actors, very convincing, and actual tribal folk from Hemalkasa.
Further on, one wouldn’t normally associate humour & light moments to be a part of a biopic of such nature, but they have been used and delivered interestingly in the movie as you will chuckle at Dr. Prakash’s interactions with the American Consulate, you will want to clap when he uses sarcasm at government officials, you will giggle at the romantic chemistry between Dr. Prakash & his wife Mandakini, and you will laugh when the tribals wonder where the voices from the radio came from. In fact, several moments of tribal faux pas in this movie reminded me of the film ‘The Gods Must Be Crazy’.
The Subtitles deserve a special mention as they have captured the essence of the messaging such that you will enjoy the movie even if you don't know Marathi, with very little being lost in translation.
If I were to knit pick, there is a scene or two which seems to have been made in a hurry, like when Dr. Prakash meets his tribal protégé Puru in the USA, and while this was Dr. Prakash’s proof of the pudding, Puru was anti climatic, someone who looked like just another junior artiste from a Bollywood movie.
Overall, Dr. Prakash Baba Amte - The Real Hero is a movie that will certainly leave you inspired and in my humble opinion may as well serve fruitful as India’s entry to the Oscars this year.
Rating: 4.5 on 5
Based in Mumbai, Deepti is a travel writer and a content builder for various projects. As an avid movie-watcher, she believes film makers should respect the audiences’ intelligence and need for ‘real entertainment’. She also writes about her travels with her toddler on the blog - neverjetlagged.blogspot.com.