This writing wasn't a easy one as it took over a month to just think & analyse one scene to the another & I am glad I was able to jot it down at last. This movie is an eye opener as far as darker sides of our society is concerned about the existing disparity between low & high caste on several walks of life.
72 Miles Ek Pravas translates into 72 Miles A Journey. It is a real life incident of a small boy turned into a professional novelist in real life, Ashok Vhatkar. The movie perfectly fits its name, particularly because the boy (Ashok) in his quest to run away from the boarding school at Satara just to be with his parents at home at Kolhapur, in itself is a journey of 72 miles on foot & it is during this Journey he discovers many realities of life that he would have to face during his own lifetime.
Being a naughty child & due to his father's posting in Mumbai, it was a tedious task of the mother to keep the boy under her control hence the parents decides to get the boy admitted in a boarding school against his will. In-spite of recalling the battering & spanking from his father & mother (before being put up in the boarding school) he puts in relentless effort to run away from the boarding school just to be with his parents at home & continue his studies in a day school. This escapade & incidents that unfolds in this Journey of 72 miles of walk back to home from the boarding school, transforms this kids life which he proudly jots down into a novel with the same name as its title "72 Miles Ek Pravas" in Marathi.
The kid belong to a Dalit Caste called Dhor/Kakkayya(considered outside the Hindu ritual ranking system. gets the first wake up call when he is robbed off the pennies left with him by a drunkard while he stops to catch some air after prolonged walking. In continuation to his journey, he then meets a family who offers him a ride in their bullock cart which abruptly ends with disgust & hatred On learning the boy is from a lower caste & as a result he is immediately thrown away from the cart & also beaten up for daring such an act. This act itself sends an alarming signal of our caste system & filthiness that is hidden under our own skin & still we call ourselves as human & so called the most social & cultured animals.
Ashok is left all alone on the middle of the road until a woman "Radhakka" played by Smita Tambe) along with her two daughters & two sons(one milk feeding baby Sundar & another Ranya) who are on their way to Shegaon (to her mother's house who is ill) on foot, finds Ashok lying on the road & takes him along with them & from this moment on the rest of the journey unfolds.
There are many many instances to speak about & probably if jotted down here, I would be compiling the entire movie into another novel of mine, which isn't my intention. Hence I would emphasize on a very sensitive & utterly shocking truth which in itself is nerve wrecking on realizing how truthful is the words spoken by this character "Radhakka" about our society.
They happen to reach a shop close to midnight & being exhausted due to several days of continuous walking without food & water, Radhakka happen to plead the caretaker of the shop for some water & some food for the children. The caretaker quickly offers water but with filthy thoughts in his mind & does not hesitate to stare at the eldest daughter which is strongly opposed by Radhakka with disgust, stating that he stops staring at the girl as she is still a kid. The caretaker then offers food with an alternate choice that she should pay for the food or quench his hunger for the night if the kids must have the food. Under the harsh circumstances of life she at last sacrifices herself to fulfill the hunger of the kids. Post this incidence she makes a statement to Ashok when he asks her as to why did she do it. The reply from Radhakka is that it is this same high caste people who would maintain distance from the lower caste for every walks of life except when they have to quench their thirst for sex taking undue advantage of challenge for survival. I completely applaud the courage of this lady & strongly condemn such thought process be it any caste or creed. Thought of it itself makes me feel disgruntled of such Manhood.
The end is reached when Radhakka with her two daughters only (as the infant Sundar & Ranya both meets their end during this journey. Ashok departs for their respective destination, which is really a heart touching moment. Ashok takes his route. is called upon by Radhakka for one last time before they depart, asking Ashok to sit a while & talk before finally departing. Ashok turns around on being called upon by Radhakka & calls Radhakka "Ayi. they embrace each other both crying uncontrollably.
It is believed Mr. Ashok Vhatkar did try to locate this women & her daughters in real life but was never found, before he jotted down this experience of his into a novel. I am fortunate to have watched an exemplary work of art & I take this as an opportunity to thank those anonymous friends who have recommended this movie for my viewing.