Pranali The Tradition, is an issue based film, and that is perhaps the most noteworthy thing about the movie. The film talks about the devdasi system still prevalent in certain parts of India and also makes a plea for the legalization of prostitution. Director Hirdesh Kamble's idea and intention is great but it fails to come across effectively in his film.
The biggest problem with the film is its script. It is so littered with cliches that you already know what to expect within the first ten minutes of the film. The sad, prostitute or devdasi being exploilted by men galore, the evil mahant and the corrupt politician with their goons has all been done to death. Even though one agrees with everything that Kamble is saying, all of it has been said so many times before in almost the same manner. Pranali breaks no new ground.
The story of Pranali (Nargis) begins in the interiors of Maharashtra, where the devdasi tradition flourishes and moves to Mumbai's red light area. The film details Pranali's journey as a devdasi when just a child once the village mahant (Abhay Bhargava) casts his evil eye on her. He exploits her mercilessly along with the powers that be. It shows then nexus between the police and pimps as Pranali is sent to Akka's (Sudaha Chandran) brothel in Mumbai. Having been forced into the flesh trade, Pranali's life gets a fresh lease of meaning and purpose when she gives birth to a baby daughter and vows to never let her enter the flesh trade. Thus, begins her fight to legalise prostitution. She is helped and aided in her battle by an NRI who wants to write a book on her.
Despite a decent beginning, the film fails to move on sufficiently. At the end of the day, all we get is the same old story about the exploited prostitute. One agrees that the content cannot be new, but the treatment definitely can, and that is all one would have expected from the maker. It is unfortunate that despite the best of intentions, Kamble fails to create an impact with his movie. The subject is one that needs to be highlighted. But it probably needed a more seasoned touch.
The film's music which has been composed by Kailash Kher along with Paresh and Naresh is quite refreshing. It is one of the best things about the movie. The music sounds fresh, quite unlike the film's screenplay. The tandav dance which has been choreographed by Pandit Birju Maharaj had been much publicized before the film's release but it fails to have the desired dramatic impact.
Nargis, who made her debut in Garam Masala, is cast in the role of the protagonist Pranali. The actress does a fairly good job with her role. But it is a performance that could have been outstanding given the potential of the role. Among the supporting cast, actress Sudha Chandran is quite impressive as the brothel madame. In fact, most members of the supporting cast turn in competent performances, be it Vinay Apte, Abhay Bhargava or Raman Trikha.
Pranali is director Kamble's first film, and therefore a lot of the clumsiness in handling the script and screenplay is probably understandable. However, the one thing that does come across is his honest intent to explore this issue without any desire to titillate his audience. And it is for this honesty of approach that the film, despite its warts, is worth a watch.