BOI: Gashmeer, how were you approached for the film?
Gashmeer Mahajani (GM): Actually, Avadhoot and I had been planning to work together for four to five years but wasn’t able to find a script that would be apt for me. My character’s name is Raghu Mhatre, who comes across as a very arrogant and slightly socially inept kind of person but with a heart of gold. He is a true-blue Govinda of Dahi Handi. I am the leader of one of the two groups in the film and my group is the alpha among the other groups.
The other group is led by Vaibbhav, and the film follows the conflict between two groups that are competing against each other. But, for me, the film is the personal journey of my character. I say so because my character considers himself an athlete and is a pro at Dahi Handi, but he gets dragged into the politics of the festival. So there is an arc of realisation and revenge for my character.
Frankly, I had a few doubts about doing this role but, as I said, the character I play comes across as arrogant. But Avadhoot said that in Marathi cinema right now, I am the only actor who can pull off this character. So, as a selfish and self-centered actor, I looked at the film from Raghu’s point of view even though there are two parallel tracks unfolding and a large part of the film also unfolds from Vaibbhav’s character’s point of view. Having said that, the high point of the film is its climax. And when we sat down for the script reading, it was the climax that assured me that I had to be part of this film.
BOI: It’s not easy to be part of a human pyramid for Dahi Handi. Did you undergo any physical training?
VT: In the film, I am the head of the group, so I am not really physically involved in it as I am the one who guides them. My character has a back story. I never actually got involved but we visited places where these people practice and closely observed them. After that, my perception of the game changed. For us, it’s just a one-day game, the day people watch these guys make a pyramid and then fall apart. It’s fun for us but these people actually work like sportsmen. It’s a sport but it is not respected like other sports.
GM: Nowadays, the use of a harness is a must even in the real Dahi Handi festivals. But I think Gauri climbed up a few levels of the pyramid. There is a lot of raw action. In fact, a couple of action sequences were not even choreographed by the action director or the stunt team. We were just thrown on the streets by Avadhoot and he said we could use whatever we could find on the streets to fight. The location was the slums of Thane and the things lying around can be really lethal. I suffered a lot of injuries.
BOI: How was your experience of working with the producers of this film?
GM: I had never interacted with Joe sir before this film or even when we got on board. We recently met and Joe sir said that he initially thought I would have a lot of attitude. He explained that he meant it in a positive way and that was the characteristic they were looking for in my role. That’s what I love about him, his conviction as a producer is bang on.
As far as Purvesh goes, I am very happy that this film has got me a lifelong friend in Purvesh. He doesn’t behave like a producer as he is one of the most chilled out and calm people I have ever met.
BOI: Gauri, tell us about your character.
PS: That’s why she was sceptical (Laughs). She is making up for that during the promotions and putting on a lot of make-up now!
GN: I was sceptical because of two heroes also. My first film also had two heroes but that was a typical romantic film, a girl-next-door, sober and simple character. What interested me about this character was the no-make-up clause and, secondly, I actually underwent training for the film and reached the fifth level by getting trained with the Vile Parle girls. They trained me really well and I could shoot without the help of a dummy.
I enjoyed those days because my character is a very raw and active girl who reacts very quickly. She doesn’t think twice, whether about love, hatred or love for the game. When I read the script and realised that this was both difficult and different from my previous character, it was a challenge for me because I had to act opposite Gashmeer and Vaibbhav who have a huge image in the industry, and Avadhoot sir, who has a tremendous fan following too. It was difficult but I think I have done 100 per cent justice to my role.
BOI: Purvesh and Joe, this is your first Marathi film together in association with ZEE who previously did Sairat. How did the deal come about and how does it feel to be associated with ZEE?
JR: When we initially thought of doing this film, it was not with the intention of getting a corporate involved. We just wanted to make a good movie. Once we were confident that we had a good film, that’s when we spoke to ZEE. We asked them to watch the film and join hands with us if they liked it. It took us three to four days to convince them and we did different screenings for them and they finally agreed to go ahead with
It was a big deal for us, also because it was the next release after Sairat and a big challenge because Sairat did exceptionally well. We are very happy that we had a partner like ZEE because the release and the promotion will be very different.