Balgandharva | Film Review

Some movies make you cry, Some make you laugh, Some ask you to leave your brains at home. But, very few movies leave you speechless! Balgandharva did that to  me & my dad. I was glued onto my seat, not moving an inch (And mind you, I was damn hungry).

 This is Narayanrao Shripad Rajhans' story - one of the greatest singers and stage actors. He was famous for his roles of female characters in Marathi plays, since women were not allowed to act on stage during his time. He got the name “Balgandharva” from the famous freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak who patted his back & gave him title while praising him for his performance.

The film begins with Balgandharva (Subodh bhave) performing for a “natak”. He is part of the Kirloskar Sangeet Mandali.The company was run by Mujumdar and Nanasaheb Joglekar. After Joglekar’s death in 1911, there was discontent about Mujumdar’s dictatorial and manipulative style. Bal Gandharva, Gangesh Govind (‘Ganpatrao’) Bodas (kishore kadam) and Govindrao Tembe (avinash narkar) left the company in 1913 to form Gandharva Sangeet Mandali. The lavish sets, sarees, perfumes & other expenses leads their company into debt.Narayanrao Bal Gandharva became the sole owner of the debt ridden company in 1921. The debt was paid off in 7 years’ time, but the company accumulated debt again over next 6–7 years. Enter the legendary V.Shantaram, who offered Bal Gandharva a six film deal with Prabhat Film Company but the partnership was dissolved after just one film (Dharmatma, Classic film) in which Bal Gandharva was portrayed the role of Sant Eknath. Narayanrao revived his drama company in 1937, and soon formed an infamous association with Gohar Karnataki (also known as Gauhar Jan) who joined the company in April 1938. With Narayanrao increasingly ill at ease in female roles owing to his advancing years, the company was looking for an actress to play female roles.

The story of his rise to fame and his relationship with his mother, his wife, his co-actors and other women are all part of his celebrated life. But what adds to this amazing journey are the performances. Each & every actor has added life to their characters. Kishore kadam, Avinash Narkar, Vibhavri Deshpande & the others have done total justice. The cast is perfect. Now coming to the crew, Music by Kaushal Inamdar is just what a movie like this needed. Though marathi film lovers would have liked ajay-atul, Inamdar has done a good job. My personal favs are ”Chinmaya Sakal Hridaya” & “Parvardigar”. DOP by Mahesh Limaye is outstanding… Take a bow! Costumes by Neeta Lulla are beautiful & each saree makes you go “OOooh, I want this”. The use of colour is perfect. Make up artist (Vikram Gaikwad) is a magician, brilliant work! The producer & art director Nitin Chandrakant Desai (remember his brilliants sets in devdas,black) gets all the brownie points… A. For the lavish expenditure & amazing sets B. For getting a good team together.
Director Ravi Jadhav makes a comeback after Natrang with this movie. Natrang was also about a man donning the role of a woman (nachya). Comparisons were obvious, Natrang was a mega-hit & people were expecting an extravagant treat. The movie is a real treat for good cinema lovers and full marks to Ravi Jadhav for his work as the director. He has done a fab job.

Yes, I have reserved the best for the last! I never followed Subodh Bhave's body of work as a film actor, but he made me sit up & notice him in 'Haapus', where he did a fairly good job. However, Bhave has hit it out of the park with Balgandharva. He literally makes you cry, smile and clap for his classic performance. He had the grace, the “ada”, the charm & everything that an actor needs to portray the role of Balgandharva. Be it the scene where he cries looking at himself in the mirror when realizes he is mourning the loss of his only child on stage or the scene where he gets back home & breaks down… Subodh has proved that he is definitely of the finest actors in the Marathi as well as the Indian film industry today. One of my personal fav from now on… Kudos Subodh!
Overall, This movie has definitely made it to my ALL TIME FAV MOVIES list. Dont ask WHY, Go WATCH!!!!! “Balgandharva”… Thumbs up!


  1. This is a very significant blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Keep up the good job in posting very good topics. viewster

  2. Excellent movie. Thank you for pointing me to this movie. I loved it even though I don't know Marathi. :-) My kudos to all the actors and team members for making excellent movie. Thank you for excellent summary above (better than one on the wiki).

    1. Thank you so much, Nagaraj! Glad you liked it.


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Priya Adivarekar

Priya Adivarekar - Founder and Creative Director at Diary of a Dancebee. She is also a renowned Voice Actress and award winning artiste, with serious passion for dance. When not working round the clock, she can be seen reading, enjoying a movie-binge or listening to music.
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