Don’t bottle up your feelings…
The story is about the love of brother and sister. A sister who hardly has seen her brother in her life. So, after her death, her ghost shares her experiences and helps her brother and finally disappears.
Native/alternative title: हैप्पी जर्नी
Director: Sachin Kundalkar
Writer: Sachin Kundalkar
Cast: Priya Bapat, Atul Kulkarni, Pallavi Subhash, Chitra Palekar, Madhav Abhyankar, Shiv Kumar Subramaniam, Siddharth Menon, Suhita Thatte
As far as I can remember, this is my first ever Marathi film (I may have seen a few, not sure). I have received recommendations to watch Nana Patekar’s ‘Natsamrat’, and ‘Sairat’. I thought that ‘Natsamrat’ would be a bit heavy for my mood and due to unavailability of ‘Sairat’, I looked around for other Marathi films and ‘Happy Journey’ caught attention because of its theme “Journey of a man with his sister”.
‘Happy Journey’ is the film about a man – Niranjan (Atul Kulkarni), who due to financial difficulties at home had to leave in his ripe teenage years to go find a job in order to sustain his family. Meanwhile, his sister – Janaki (Priya Bapat), who was suffering from the blood cancer also, eventually, passed away.
At the beginning of the film, I was a little bit confused but after just a few moments I was completely shell-shocked! Why?? Did you read the synopsis of the film? I did, but it was not accurate enough in my opinion. I was confused because I had misinterpreted the storyline of the movie. I definitely did not know about the ‘dead sister’ part. Before starting the film, I thought that the movie is about a man who returns home and goes on a trip with his sister. ‘Happy Journey’ pierced right through my heart (reasons coming ahead). I believe, not knowing about the ‘dead sister’ plot made me more invested in the film.
Anyway, Niranjan is not entirely in touch with his emotions. Because of the hardships he had faced during his teenage, he is money-oriented and is quite distant from others and his feelings. After his sister’s funeral, he is already planning to fly back to Dubai while his parents insist him to stay a while longer. One night he plans to go out for some fresh air and takes out the van. The same van which was frequently used to take Janaki to the hospital and back. But lo-behold, much to his surprise, he finds a girl sleeping in the back of the van. Imagine his shock when he finds out that the girl sleeping in the van is his very own sister. The sister who is supposed to be dead!
At first, Niranjan is just like his usual self – caring yet distant, but as he learns about Janaki’s longings and dreams he begins to change. One of my favourite moments of the film came when Niranjan was frustrated after a fight with Janaki when he gets to see their family photographs. In each of these photographs, Janaki was holding a photograph of Niranjan as well. Niranjan always thought of himself as an outsider in the family but in his family’s hearts and minds he was never an outsider. After looking at these photographs he realises how much Janaki had missed him. Despite not being with his family, he was always in each photograph because of Janaki!
The whole brother-sister dynamic was very endearing. I loved every moment they spent together. There was also a romantic side story of Niranjan which was essential but it felt quite stretched and often distracting from the main storyline.
I also liked the distribution of music in the film. It was not excessive unlike the majority of the Bollywood films. Also, music placement was fitting into the storyline and made the emotional scenes more sentimental and touching.
I am familiar with Atul Kulkarni thanks to some of his Bollywood projects. I have always admired him as an actor. Atul plays the character of Niranjan impeccably. I would have liked less screen-time for Pallavi Subhash’s (Niranjan’s love interest) character and the story arc just become boring; she is also likeable as the romantic interest of Niranjan. However, the highlight of the cast is Priya Bapat. She played Janaki’s character to perfection! It is hard not to like her. Now I am eagerly anticipating to looking forward to more films of her.
Happy Journey is a rare film in my opinion. I cannot name more than a few Indian films that made me genuinely emotional. If you are not too fond of this kind of stories then you may find it mushy but if you like heart-warming stories then this film is ‘the one’ for you. It will make you smile and teary for sure!
You can skip the following paragraph and directly jump to the ratings. Following paragraph is just my ramblings about why this movie pierced my heart.
Personally, ‘Happy Journey’ is relatable in many ways. No, my sister or any other person I love is not dead or dying. In fact, I am blessed with few lovely and healthy people in my life whom I care deeply about. It is more about resemblance with Niranjan’s nature and the way he is living, and his relationship with the people he loves. Sometimes people forget the small essential things like spending time with their loved ones and instead they focus more on the other material aspects of life. No, I am not saying that these things are not important. I mean to say that material things should come at the expense of your loved ones. Here in this film, Niranjan was taken aback when Janaki tells him that she wished that both of them could connect, laugh and talk like normal siblings. She stayed back only for Niranjan so they could live like normal siblings at least once even if it was after her death.
There are many Niranjans in this world. Working too hard for their loved one but they fail to keep in ‘touch’ with them. It is not about the physical distance, it is about the emotional distance. Just like Niranjan, people love and deeply care about their loved ones but are too distant or even scared so they fail to express their feelings and emotions. And let’s be honest, our society (I can only speak for Indian society) does not teach or encourage us (especially males) to express their feelings. ‘Feelings are for the weak’ is a funda way too common in society. Usually, it is too late when they realise that they have made a mistake. Too often people do not realise what they have until it is gone. Too often people fail to invest their time in the right people and end up with many regrets.
Life is short. Grab every opportunity to tell your dear ones how much they mean to you. Life and opportunities are too fragile and can be lost in the blink of an eye but the regrets will last for a long, long time. If you a Niranjan, please spare a moment and try to express your feelings in one way or another. I promise you, you won’t regret it. If you are somewhat like me – someone who wants to but cannot express anything, take baby steps. You do not need to say it. Just try once to do a small deed, a small action like taking some time out to spend with a dear one. Slowly it will open you up.
Have you seen ‘Happy Journey’? If yes, what do you think about this movie? If not, does it sound interesting to you? Comment below!