It’s a dance film in Marathi—and it has nothing to do with lavni.
Instead, Aayna Ka Bayna is packed with locking, popping and krumping. The hip hop dance movie showcases an omnibus performative style that has been gaining popularity in recent years through street performances, contests and television shows. Directed by Samit Kakkad, the movie follows a group of nine male dancers who resolve to remind their rivals that “aayna ka bayna, ghetlya shivay rahi naa”—a Marathi phrase that loosely translates into, “We’re not leaving without taking what’s rightfully ours.”
The trailer and songs are made up of shards of shots edited to a dizzying rhythm typically found in music videos, indicating that the storytelling style is as energetic as the dance style that inspired it. “The trailer had to have pace and invite people to watch the film,” says Kakkad, who’s a fan of dance movies like Step Up, Dirty Dancing and West Side Story. “In fact, when I got a credit card some years ago, the first thing I ordered from Amazon was West Side Story,” he says.
Aayna Ka Bayna is targeting a late October release, and Kakkad hopes to dub his 100-minute movie into Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. “We originally wanted to make the film in Hindi, but there is a big divide between Marathi and Hindi as far as budgets are concerned,” he says about his Rs.2 crore production.
Proof of Kakkad’s ambitions to expand the scope of his second movie (he has previously directed Huppa Huiyya) beyond Marathi-speaking audiences lies in the slickness of the songs and the finale which, as in any dance movie, ends with an extended display of dancing skills. Aayna Ka Bayna’s title track has been shot across Mumbai, including Dhobi Ghat, the Worli Fort and container storage yards in Panvel. “The title song alone took four days to shoot,” Kakkad says. “We did overspend, but the results will be on film forever.”
Another song required five cameras and 650 lights—a logistical challenge for a producer but a dream for the film’s cinematographer, Sanjay Jadhav. He describes his approach to Aayna Ka Bayna as being consistent with the plot. “The film is about breaking barriers, so accordingly, I decided my language,” says Jadhav, who has previously shot Jogwa. “Neither the lighting, framing, shot-taking and camera movements nor the cutting pattern is conventional.”
Kakkad and Jadhav have aimed for in vogue grunginess. “The movie starts with a grungy, desaturated look, and the colours deepen as the story progresses,” Jadhav says. He claims that Aayna Ka Bayna will be a “cult film” for Marathi audiences who are better acquainted with realist dramas and comedies. “This type of experiment has not happened in Marathi cinema,” Jadhav says. The eight songs are integrated into the storyline, Kakkad adds. “The songs are organic to the story, they are matter of fact and to the point,” he says.
The cast includes seasoned actors like Sachin Khedekar and Amruta Khanvilkar but the focus is on a bunch of young men, some of whom have displayed their moves on the talent hunt shows Dance India Dance and Boogie Woogie. The diversity of the ensemble indicates the geographical spread of hip hop in Maharashtra.
The suburb of Nalasopara is one of the leading nurseries of hip hop talent in Mumbai, having produced choreographer Rohan Rokade’s Rohan and Group and the Fictitious Dance Company. Rokade is one of two choreographers on Aayna Ka Bayna, and his nephew, Amit Rokade, a Boogie Woogie winner, appears in the movie, as does Siddesh Pai, a finalist on Dance India Dance. Two of the dancers are from Karad and Ahmednagar, respectively. “I call them my nine wonder boys,” Kakkad says. The boys were enrolled in a 20-day acting workshop to enhance their acting skills.
“What works in the end is not the technique, it’s the story,” Kakkad says.