Beyond Bollywood: Zombivli Is A Charming Marathi Film That Combines Humour And Social Commentary, Film Companion

A film about zombies in Dombivli called Zombivli. The idea itself is so sparkling that it deserves applause.

Zombivli is a charming Marathi film which combines humor, a love story, action, life lessons about finding your inner hero and horror. Director Aditya Sarpotdar and writers Sainath Ganuwad, Sidhhesh Purkar, Mahesh Iyer and Yogesh Vinayak Joshi place the undead in the sprawling mini-city on the outskirts of Mumbai. And in the tradition of iconic socially conscious zombie movies like the Night of the Living Dead series, Zombivli also delivers a timely critique of gentrification, class warfare, corruption and greed. Water plays a pivotal role.

Amey Wagh plays Sudhir, an engineer who moves into an airy high-rise apartment in Dombivli with his pregnant wife Seema. Sudhir has a new job at the Aqua Oasis Water Company. But the couple slowly discovers that their upwardly mobile lifestyle isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. The building has an acute water shortage – early on, they are told to bathe every other day and not to keep any plants. And soon enough, there is a zombie outbreak in the nearby Janata Nagar slum.

 

As the zombies multiply, the veneer of the privileged folk cracks. A politician spins the narrative to blame the slum dwellers. The venal water factory owner tries to save his copious cash reserves – in one of the film’s best scenes, he is throwing wads of money at approaching zombies, deluded until the end that being rich will save him. Sudhir’s neighbor tries to use a maid as a human shield. The worst villains here aren’t the bloodthirsty undead but the deeply selfish and mercenary living.

Zombivli reveals these truths with dollops of humor. Sudhir, who is the first one to comprehend what is happening, attempts to explain it to others – they are dead, he says, but they are not dead. Aditya also has fun making the largely Western genre more desi. There is a tragi-comic visual of female zombies huddling around the water tap with pots. It’s what these women had done for most of their lives – even when dead they continue to wait long hours for a few precious drops.

Zombivli also has a feminist heart. Seema might be six months pregnant but she doesn’t let that get in the way. She’s tough and resourceful. The screenplay also finds place for a quiet moment between husband and wife in which Sudhir confronts his own feelings of cowardice. These more serious strains are offset by the comedy around Vishwas, the local slum leader, whose right hand seems to have a mind of its own. So much so that Vishwas has given it a name – Jaggu.

The acting is uniformly good. Amey is literally wide-eyed as Sudhir who transforms into a hero as Dombivli becomes a hellscape. Vaidehi Parashurami as Seema and Lalit Prabhakar as Vishwas also pull off their roles with conviction. And a shout-out to the zombies – these hordes of jerking, twitching, blood-thirsty monsters are solid.

Zombivli has stretches that plod but mostly Aditya keeps the frights, fights and fun coming.

You can watch the film with English subtitles at a theater near you. Please remember to wear a mask.

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