Verdict: Dhappa is delightful with thought-provoking subtext.

The National Award winning film Dhappa was screened at MAMI 2018 and got impressive reviews. Now the film has released theatrically and has everyone’s attention yet again. Dhappa is a brainchild (pun not intended) of Marathi cinema’s contemporary director Nipun Dharmadhikari and veteran actor and writer Girish Kulkarni, complemented by an enviously talented cast.

What’s Dhappa About:

Thematically, Dhappa is about ecological conservation and national integration, for which the film won its National Award. However, the film’s underlying message is quite clearly about free speech. Dhappa shows you the ecosystem of a posh society in Pune city. You see a typical “society uncle” who is intolerant of a crime that plaguing the society – stolen custard apple. It also has a gang of regular school kids who indulge in school gang-y things like having water fights and taking part in the society’s Ganesh festival. The “leader” of the gang is a wheelchair-bound Suhrud Sharangpani and is nicknamed Hawkya (presumably short for Hawking) because kids are not generally known to have chill. For the society’s Ganeshtostav, the resident playwright and director Anuradha Deodhar decides to stage a play about the environment. It has characters like talking trees, Sant Tukaram and Jesus Christ. However, having Jesus Christ as one of the characters in a Ganpati play doesn’t sit well with the local right-wing Mahashakti party. The party goons rough up the props and scare the society members into not pursuing the play any longer. However, the kids are not down with this, especially the kid who is excited about playing Jesus Christ in the play. They all agree that they will prepare for the play in secret.