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Floating On Cloud Nine

Actor Swwapnil Joshi is one of the most bankable actors in the Marathi film industry. Joshi has not only acted in the upcoming Marathi film Fugay, he also co-wrote the story with co-actor Subodh Bhave. His next titled Bhikari (a maiden venture of Ganesh Acharya as a producer and director in the Marathi industry), was launched by none other than Amitabh Bachchan. The talented actor speaks to Rohini Nag Madnani about his upcoming films

Fugay has been written by you and your co-star Subodh Bhave. How did you come up with the subject?

Subodh and I had been longing to work with each other for a really long time as we are fans of each other in terms of our work. Since we were unable to find any scripts that would facilitate us working together, we thought it would be a good idea to come up with an idea ourselves. We worked on this idea and gradually the story unfolded. Coming up with a story for the film was thus a natural process. And that is how Fugay was conceived.

 How does the title Fugay justify the content of the film?

‘Fugay’ means ‘balloon’, and when you think of balloons, it immediately brings a smile to your face. For some inexplicable reason, balloons have the ability to make one smile, regardless of age. Metaphorically, the title of the film refers to that kind of smile and happiness. Second, ‘fugay’ also refers to someone who has an air about themselves and needs to be brought down to earth.

The trailers show a really fun, light comedy. Tell us something about the film and your character.

Yes, the film is a very light-hearted comedy. The story follows two best friends. When my character gets engaged to be married, the circumstances change the friendship. That’s what the film showcases. It’s about how an equation between two friends who have been inseparable since childhood changes due to the presence of another person.

I play the character Aditya, who gets engaged, and Subodh plays my best friend, Hrushikesh. When two friends are so close, the friendship changes in many ways when one of them gets into a relationship. Now, time has to be divided and choices made. The film showcases this situation in a fun manner along with many other aspects to the story.

 This kind of comedy encourages a lot of improvisation on the sets.

Yes, there was a lot of improvisation but it is important to make sure that it enhances the story and polishes the narrative. Full credit goes to the writers, Hemant Dhome and Abhijeet Guru, who wrote the screenplay of the film. They injected some brilliant situations and lines. Subodh and I were unstoppable on the sets due to our off-screen camaraderie, so Swapna (Waghmare Joshi) director, had to be really strict with us while shooting. (Laughs)

 Was Swapna your first choice to approach, to direct the film?

Absolutely. I have worked with her and I know how good she is with her work. She has worked in the television industry and built a formidable reputation in a matter of a few years. We thought she would do full justice to a subject like this. When we narrated the story to her, she loved it. Her vision as a director has worked brilliantly in favour of the story.

This is your third film with Swapna Waghmare Joshi. What has your collaboration with her been like?

She is like family to us but that’s not why we approached her for this film. She has done fabulous work in television and started with me in the Marathi industry as well. So, there is a bond, a friendship, between us. Her first film Mitwaa was a love story. Her second was a mystery thriller and this is a comedy. In just three films, she has proved the range of her craft.

Fugay will release in the next few months and we are very excited. Subodh and I have not done a comedy film in recent times, so this has been very enjoyable for us – and Swapna has done a great job. The trailers of the film have been appreciated and garnered a lot of attention from the industry as well as the audience.

 You are one of the top commercial actors in the Marathi industry. What prompts you to sign a project?

The first and foremost reason is the content of the film. The script and the basic thought of the film is what makes me sign a film. The director and producer are secondary. If the content connects with me and impresses me, and I think it will impress the audience as well, I sign a film. We can never judge if the film will or will not do well at the box office but it is our prerogative to present the audience with the best content that we possibly can.

Having said that, there are times when working with a certain director or producer too is a hook. For instance, who would pass up the opportunity to work with names like Sanjay Leela Bhansali or Ganesh Acharya? I generally look for a great story and interesting content but when makers like Sanjay sir and Ganesh sir have approved a story, then all you have do is close your eyes and believe in their vision.

 Like the Hindi film industry, the release window has become important for the Marathi industry too. Do you also have to take into account which Hindi films are releasing during that week?

Yes, we do. We are competing not only with Hindi cinema but Hollywood as well. So we do release our films only after taking note of the other releases, Hindi or Hollywood.

How clued in are you to the box-office numbers of films?

I am as informed about box-office collections as I am informed about Indian politics, just enough to survive. I am not great at it, I am aware of my surroundings but I am not a master of it. Personally, I don’t work for numbers, numbers are a by-product. Some films will work and some films will not, and what we all need to work for is belief in the content we are trying to get to cinemas.

 Recently, the mahurat clap for your film Bhikari was given by Amitabh Bachchan. How did that feel?

It was a surreal feeling and I was speechless. Every actor wants an opportunity to share the stage or screen with the legend Mr Amitabh Bachchan, at least once in a lifetime. I couldn’t believe that I was standing right next to him. It was dreamlike for me, to be honest. We always want God to bless us when we start something new and in our industry, Bachchanji is a God for every one of us. The film has had a blessed start, for sure.

 Tell us something about the film.

In today’s time, everyone is begging for something or the other. Some beg for money, others for a promotion, for love, a job, respect and other things. As the title suggests, the film is based on the lives of such people. Ganesh Acharya has been in the industry for such a long time, and to have him direct me in his Marathi debut as a director is an honour. Ganesh has also produced the film and he is a wonderful man to work with. So, when he approached me with this film, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Not only does the film have a wonderful team, the content is superlative too. The film will release next year.

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