Bhau Kadam and Kushal Badrike’s camaraderie is the highlight of Pandu

ByGary B. Cooks

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The late Dada Kondke has inspired an entire generation of viewers, filmmakers and actors in Maharashtra, and Pandu is a testimony of that. No, it’s not a remake or sequel of Dada Kondke’s iconic Pandu Hawaldar, but a tribute to Dada Kondke.

Pandu doesn’t make tall claims; it stays true to the essence of Dada Kondke’s films, with one sole purpose – that of entertaining the masses. And who better to do that than two of the most well known comedians from the industry?

Bhau Kadam and Kushal Badrike team up for this comedy, making it the first time for the two to be acting together on the big screen. The film begins with the Bhau (Pandu) and Kushal (Mhadu) performing at a programme in honour of politician Babasaheb Pathare (Pravin Tarde). Happy with their performance, Babasaheb fulfils their wish of doing a job for livelihood and gets them inducted as Hawaldars in the Mumbai police force. What follows is a comedy of errors, twists and turns, and a hatke climax.

Comedy with double meaning jokes is a tricky area. It needs to have just the right balance; a little less can make it drab, and a little more can make it crass. Director Viju Mane manages to strike a balance, making you laugh with just the right tadka.

The acting department is full of known names and they deliver what’s expected of them. Anyone else in place of Bhau Kadam for this role may not have hit the mark, but the ace comedian nails every punch line while retaining a certain level of innocence. Kushal as Mhadu is the perfect companion to Bhau’s Pandu and delivers an equally good performance. Neither of these two overpowers each other. Sonalee looks beautiful no doubt, and she also gets to pack a punch (literally) as Usha. The actress’s part is pivotal to Pandu’s plot. Pravin Tarde commands the screen as Babasaheb Pathare while Prajakta Mali emerges as a surprise package in this equation as Babasaheb’s daughter.

As entertaining as Pandu’s first half is, the film loses pace in the second half. Though the climax earns some brownie points, the film doesn’t make a complete turnaround. There are some supporting characters added for comic relief, but doing away with some of them wouldn’t really have made much of a difference. Hemangi Kavi, for example, doesn’t have much to do besides establishing Mhadu’s married life, nor does Shahbaz Khan.

All said and done, Bhau Kadam and Kushal Badrike’s camaraderie is the highlight of the film. That’s also what most people would go to watch the film for. The two don’t disappoint. The same cannot be said about the film as a whole though.