started his career as a singer and is best known for the song Aika Dajibabut he soon turned director and delivered his first hit Zenda, after which he also made Morya, Jai Maharashtra Dhaba, Bhatinda andEk Tara. Now he is all set to helm another film, Dahi Handi, which he says is the third instalment in his trilogy, also comprising Zenda and Morya
You are all set to start your next film Dahi Handi. Why are you calling it a trilogy, along with your first two films Zenda and Morya?
I am first a singer-composer, so I always first create the music of anything that comes to mind. When the story of Zenda occurred to me, it was initially done in music and then I felt there was a story. I tried to write the story and it finally turned out to be the screenplay ofZenda. Then, when I was shooting the film, there was some talk about how society creates restlessness in you.
And then there were discussions about Ganeshotsav… so that story developed as Morya, which revolves around the politics of Ganesh mandals. Morya has a song on dahi handi, and both festivals come one after the other, first dahi handi and then Ganeshotsav. So the mandals (team members) are largely the same. The Dahi Handi subject occurred to me at that time and though it didn’t work out then, it stayed with me.
Marathi cinema rarely explores subjects like these.
Yes, Zenda, Morya or Dahi Handi are purely ‘Mumbai’ in spirit. Zenda was based on Mumbai’s political scenario; Morya was based on Mumbai’s Ganeshotsav; and even Dahi Handi is widely celebrated only in Mumbai. The rest of the Maharashtra doesn’t celebrate the festival in the way Mumbai does.
I have an advertising background and almost all the political parties in Maharashtra have been my clients, so I know every one of them inside out. I know my Maharashtra very well, whether Mumbai, Pune, Satara or Kolhapur. I know the soil very well, how political parties are connected to the youth and how it effects the youth.
What does Dahi Handi talk about?
When you go back 10-20 years, and I am talking about dahi handi in the ’1990s and ’2000s, the prizes used to be around Rs 5,000. But, today, it’s as much as Rs 1 crore. Can you believe it? Although no one has won that amount yet, that prize is still up for grabs. In between these two eras, the sum was Rs 25-30 lakh. So the moment money enters politics, the repercussions are fights and discord in the mandals. When you watch the film, you will realise that we never thought of it this way.
Between Morya and Dahi Handi, you made two more films, Jai Maharashtra Dhaba, Bhatinda, and Ek Tara and both were of different genres.
Yes, once I completed Morya, I was looking to do something I had not touched upon before and that’s how Jai Maharashtra… happened. Ek Tara is closer to me because the film tells the story of a musician, which was my story. But now that I am back to Dahi Handi, it feels like I am in my zone.
Those two films also did well. In terms of genre, which was more difficult tomake?
Zenda, Morya and Dahi Handi have macro subjects, whereas Jai Maharashtra Dhaba, Bhatinda and Ek Tara are micro subjects. Zenda and Morya were more about people. I have to be true to whatever I do and I cannot take sides. I have to be true to the facts and get my information right, especially for subjects like these. Whereas when I made Ek Tara, it was my story, so I could make whatever I wanted to make. So each genre has its pros and cons but Dahi Handi feels like I have entered my own territory.
You made your debut in 2010. Looking back, how much has the Marathi film industry evolved?
A lot. In terms of structure, budget, audience… everything has changed. With Marathi films, there was a time when the audience accepted only comedy films made by Dada Kondke and some others. Then, stories about the common man started working, and that’s when a film like Shwaas was highly accepted. The audience started connecting with the stories.
I believe that this the best time for Marathi cinema, when all kinds of genres are being appreciated by the same Marathi audience. That’s why films like Time Pass, Natsamrat, Class Mates and Tu Hi Re, Killa, Court…are all working. Today, we are handling different genres and the number of films being made has increased as has the number of films that are working at the box office.
Multiplexes have brought in change and, unlike earlier, Marathi films get good slots and a good number of screens. That’s why a film like Natsamrat runs for so long. Movie-goers across India are demanding good content, so even the non-Marathi speaking audience is walking in to watch a good Marathi film. It is an extremely positive sign.
What can the audience expect from Dahi Handi?
More drama. One can sit back and think, achcha yeh bhi hota hai. And when Dahi Handi is celebrated throughout Maharashtra, my film will bring out that fun even more. Dahi Handi is more of a masculine film. I say ‘masculine’ because there are 300-400 boys and there will be violence and also a lot of conversation between male friends.