By Utpal Borpujari
Panaji: India has many unsung heroes, among them some heroes who have earned international recognition for their selfless service to the society but yet remains known only to a limited circle simply because they eschew media publicity.
One such name definitely is Prakash Baba Amte, the elder son of the late Baba Amte. They together remain the only father-son duo to win the Raman Magsaysay Award for their social work, but unlike the father, the son’s is not a name recognized nationally.
But that is about to change, with “Dr Prakash Baba Amte: The Real Hero”, a Marathi film on him, wooing delegates at the Indian Panorama section at the just-concluded 45th International Film Festival of India (IFFI). Incidentally, the Hindi version of the film, called “Hemalkasa” after the village that Amte made his home after earning his medical degree, would soon be released nationally.
Starring Nana Patekar in the title role, Sonali Kulkarni as his wife Mandakini, and Mohan Agashe as Baba Amte, the film deftly captures the extraordinary life and times of Prakash Amte, who, inspired by his father and helped by Mandakini and a group of dedicated friends, took healthcare to Hemalkasa, one of Maharashtra’s most-backward, tribal-dominated regions affected by Naxalite activities.
The film starts a bit tamely, with an encounter between the Naxalites and the security forces seeking to establish the socio-political situation of the area, but immediately comes on track thereafter, chronicling the work and life of the doctor who chose to bring healthcare facilities to the most backward tribals of the area.
Directed by Samruddhi Porey, the film mostly takes a realistic approach to tell the real life story, with Patekar giving a go by to his usual histrionics to depict the soft-spoken but firm-minded Amte. He is most able supported by a superb Kulkarni who brings out the tender relationship Mandakini has had with Amte in several scenes in the film.
It could have very easily been a documentary-style, but Porey is able to bring in several dramatic incidents from Amte’s life to make the film interesting and dramatic. Carefully picking up several interesting stories from the years of struggle that Prakash Amte has undertaken to carry on with his work in a remote region, the director not only brings out his life but also the lifestyle of the tribal people who did not even have the most basic healthcare facilities till the good doctor came to live amidst them.
“The film is a tribute to a cause and it is very much heartening to know that the people have appreciated it in such a big way. The very fact that it is running house full even after seven weeks of its release in Maharashtra shows how much it has moved people,” says Patekar, who, apparently moved by the subject, has announced a biopic on Baba Amte that he would direct.
“I wanted the world to see the philanthropic work of Dr Prakash Amte and Mandakini Amte The film runs like a make-believe film story but the beauty is that it is a portrayal of reality. It is not only a story of struggle and sacrifice but also the unconditional love between a husband and a wife,” says Porey.
(Published in Eastern Chronicle, http://www.easternchronicle.net; 02-12-2014)