Upcoming Marathi film Kanha salutes the indomitable spirit of the Govindas during the Dahi Handi festival. Director Avadhoot Gupte, co-producers Joe Rajan and Purvesh Sarnaik, and actors Vaibbhav Tatwawdi, Gashmeer Mahajani and Gauri Nalawade tell us about their wholesome entertainer and how it will change the perception of the festival forever
BOI: What made you produce a Marathi film after your debut as producer-director of a Hindi film (Luv U Soniyo)?
Joe Rajan (JR): Since I’ve been a part of Bollywood, it was a very rare thing for me to produce a Marathi film but Pratap Sarnaik and I share a great rapport. He came up with three very good ideas, one of which was based on the festival of Dahi Handi and today it is considered as one of the biggest festivals of Maharasthra and Pratap Sarnaik is the organiser of one of the biggest Dahi Handi mandals in Mumbai.
We discussed it and when we met on Suresh Wadkar’s birthday, we suddenly felt we had to do this with Avadhoot, who is also a master in that segment of cinema since he has made Zenda and Morya. That’s why we decided that Avadhoot must come aboard this project as director. When we told Avadhoot we were doing this subject, he started to pen the story and that’s how the entire project started.
I was interested in the project because it had a very interesting subject; next because Sarnaik was involved and; third, because Avadhoot was directing this film. It was a very good package for me to be associated with this project. Then Pratap’s son Purvesh (Sarnaik) came into the picture and we worked together as a team. His inputs and my knowledge of cinema came together and we took it forward and finished it very quickly because the festival of Dahi Handi is coming up and we have to release it at that time.
BOI: Purvesh, what was your experience like?
Purvesh Sarnaik (PS): My background included hospitality and I have also worked in a political party for the youth. All of a sudden, I realised I wanted to get into the film industry and that’s when I met Joe. He has been very supportive in terms of introducing me to the industry. We also organise the biggest Dahi Handi. Obviously, my father is the coordinator but the event organiser is me.
I have learnt a lot, all good things about the industry. It was a very good experience and I never thought I would continue. As soon as we finished Kanha, I asked when we would start working for the other film.
BOI: Avadhoot, what was your reaction when they approached to you for this film?
Avadhoot Gupte (AG): There is a back story. In 2009, I was working on my second film Morya and it has a song Aala daha tharancha Govinda. Thar matlab levels ek ke upar ek toh maine gaana banaya tha Dus thar ka Govinda, Daha tharancha Govinda. Last year, there was a world record registered in Dahi Handi. I was thinking about it and it was my guru Sureshji’s (Wadkar) birthday and we had a bash at Purvesh’s place.
There, Pratapji declared that he wanted to make a film on Dahi Handi and that I would be directing it. So things clicked. That night, after I got home, I started writing the story and wrote three pages by morning. I showed Pratapji what I had written and things started rolling from there.
It was August last year because Sureshji’s birthday is on August 7 and, last year, Dahi Handi was at the end of August. We put up cameras and shot the crowd scenes right then, and all the grandeur you see in Kanha is real. Then we started working on the final script.
BOI: Can you share some details about the casting?
AG: It’s basically two mandals competing against each other, one is established and the other is the underdog. I wanted both Gashmeer and Vaibbhav as they are six feet tall and the girls are crazy about them. They belong to the new generation and it’s very difficult to get their dates. After I got these two, we began searching for the lead actress and we found Gauri. Both Gashmeer and Vaibbhav have a different kind of energy. Gashmeer is very cool and Vaibbhav is very hot. You will enjoy the chemistry on screen.
BOI: Vaibbhav, would you like to add anything to that?
Vaibbhav Tatwawdi (VT): When he approached me with the script, I was a tad sceptical because I was doing films as a solo lead and this one has an ensemble cast. The most important factor was Avadhoot Gupte because, at that time, I didn’t know the Sarnaik family. I was also wondering about this being a two-hero film. I knew that Gashmeer was a very good actor, he was an acquaintance, and then the others came into the picture and I really loved the team.
As Joe said, it’s a package deal, the script is nice, the way the film has been shot and the songs are very good, plus we have a presenter like ZEE. So it was a very tempting offer for an actor. I think I took the right decision. When I see the film today, I am very happy to see how my character has shaped up. I am very excited for August 26 and for the audience to watch the film.