Sophomore helmer Ravindra Harishchandra Jadhav can’t transcend the episodic nature of the biopic format with his musical “Sound of Heaven: The Story of Bal Gandharva.” A standard-issue take on the life of influential Marathi performer Narayan Rajhans, known as Bal Gandharva (“little singer from heaven”), the pic is considerably hampered by wooden lensing and an unfortunate lack of charisma. Rajhans became famous in women’s roles in the early 20th century, at a time when only men could go onstage; the topic may intrigue, but offshore auds will have difficulty connecting.
Abhiram Bhadkamkar’s uninspired script is largely to blame for the lack of dramatic trajectory, consisting of static, often repetitive scenes. Rajhans (Subodh Bhave, valiant) is frugal with himself and put-upon wife Laxmi (Vibhavari Deshpande), but ultra-extravagant with his theater pieces, leading to constant bankruptcy despite high-profile patrons. Bad luck plagued him throughout his career, and as theater styles changed, he was considered old-fashioned. Art direction (by producer Nitin Chandrakant Desai) and costumes are attractive, but the idea of sumptuousness is more discussed than shown. Viewers unfamiliar with traditional Marathi music will find it hard to judge the musical impact.