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Hitting The Big Notes

The lead actors of the Marathi film Tu Tithe Asave, Bhushan Pradhan and Pallavi Patil, in conversation with
Padma Iyer about the film, working together and more

What is Tu Tithe Asave all about?

Bhushan Pradhan (BP): Actors and musicians belong to the same industry. I know what an actor goes through or what an actor’s story is, but I have also felt for musicians. I have seen playback singers, who sing scratch versions. Even these versions are sung and recorded very professionally. But, then, a well-known singer’s voice is recorded over it and that is the one we hear.

I have always wondered what a singer must feel, someone who has just sung a scratch version. They must be so happy that they have recorded for a film, only to later find out that someone else’s is the final voice. I am a bad singer but this film allowed me to be a singer and explore their struggles.

Pallavi Patil (PP): An artiste is an artiste. All they require is talent. In our industry, people prefer to work with singers who are well known. But there is amazing new talent out there which remains untapped. So, through this film, we are saying the same thing: don’t look at the language or background of the artiste; let the focus be only on the talent.

Bhushan, how did you prepare for your role as a singer in this film?

BP: I took singing classes, not because I wanted to sing, but as an actor it is necessary to understand singing as well. It helps with the pitch and different intonations. I did this before I was a part of this film, and that helped. Apart from that, I began to observe the body language of singers when they performed. So, I watched videos of live performances online. Earlier, when I used to watch music videos, it was to listen to the songs and enjoy them, but this time it was to see how they performed, study their expressions and movements. I also have many singer friends, so it was easier to learn from them.

There are two instances in the film, one where I sing on screen and the singer had to emulate my style through his singing. I am sure it wasn’t easy for him. He would have had to lower his standards to match me. But, in another instance, I had to lip sync to a song which had a lot of sargams. It was the climax of the film. At first, I thought the director would use some camera cheat shots to cover up, but later I found out that I had to learn the sargams, which was pretty difficult. But I was happy that I could do it.

Pallavi, tell us something about your character in the film.

PP: My character is called Gauri. I think every woman will connect with her because she is close to the women we have in our lives, whether our mother or our sister, who generally look out for us. They are prepared to make any sacrifices for the well-being of their loved ones and they do not expect anything in return. Gauri is like that. She wants to do everything for Malhar so that he achieves success in his music career. She is the support we all need in our lives, that person who at the end of a hard day will tell us, ‘Don’t worry, things will be better tomorrow’.

What was it like working with each other? How did you work on your on-screen chemistry?

BP: This is not our first film together. We have done one other film, which is yet to release. But we are not paired opposite each other in that film. So when this film came about, I was, like, okay, I know Pallavi, so it should be fine. We are friends.

PP: He thought we were friends, but for me, I was not yet there. We had a common friend and that was how we connected.

BP: Yes, it was shocking for me, especially. During that film we didn’t get the chance to interact much and also Pallavi is a little reserved. So before we started on this film, she called me and said, ‘This is a very romantic film and I haven’t done such a role before’. So, she wanted to meet once so that we could get to know each other better. But I was surprised, especially because we had worked together and we were friends. Plus, I was a little busy at the time. But I assured her that it would all be fine.

PP: Actually, I felt maybe I was being a little rude about approaching him directly. But then I was not sure. However, he was confident that our chemistry would work out.

BP: When we shot the song Dara gharat mazya, the montages in the song came out so well, that even she was surprised…

PP: (Cuts In) That I did so well (Laughs).

BP: The chemistry is basically action-reaction. So if that is not there, it fails and it shows on the screen as well. At the time, we were friends but not as much as we are now. Still, the chemistry between us came out really well in that song. It surprised not only us but also the producers.

Just as the chemistry between the actors is important, the chemistry between the director and the actors is equally important. What was it like working with Santosh Gaikwad?

PP: You are absolutely right. Not just the director, but you need to be comfortable with everyone involved with the film. Whenever we would shoot a scene, we would make suggestions to Santosh sir about improving it. We would all sit together, Bhushan, Santosh sir, our writer and I, and work on it. Some people insist on doing a particular scene exactly as it is written and conceived, but we had the liberty to make changes if we felt like it.

BP: At times, a director is very open about changes but the writer can be reluctant. But, in this case, they readily accepted the feedback and suggestions that I offered during the first few meetings that we had. Also, there were some instances which I felt were a little over the top, so we sat together and reworked them.

Besides the director, the DoP also contributes immensely to a film and thankfully we had an amazing understanding with him. He would offer suggestions and it worked out really well. Bashalalji (Sayyed) is known for his lighting and he has made us look excellent.

Since this is a film about a musician, music is obviously an important part of the film. What can you tell us about the music?

PP: My favourite songs in the film are the title track and Dara gharat mazya. I love how the song has been picturised. The montages are beautifully shot and we look like a real-life couple in that song.

BP: My favourites are Dara gharat mazya and Ya mere khuda. Even though this is a musical film, it is not like the music that we get to listen these days. It is melodious and while also showing the growth in music over the years. That’s why some of the tracks may feel like they belong to a bygone era. That was the intention. So it is like time travelling, of not just Malhar but also of music.

The film boasts a stellar supporting cast. What was it like to work with such senior actors?

PP: Mohan Joshi plays my father in the film. We don’t have many scenes together, but it was always my dream to work with him. Age has not slowed him and he still has an active career. That is something I got to learn from him. I don’t know if I will be as active as he is at his age, but his energy level and passion for work is inspiring.

BP: I had worked with most of the actors earlier, so I was already comfortable with them. But I always make it a point to know their story, not their personal stories, but their struggles as actors. They share their experiences and there are lessons to be learnt from them.

What do you want the audience to take away from the film?

PP: The film was to release on December 14, but now it is releasing on December 7 as there are other films releasing on the other date. But we have so much faith in our Marathi audience, that they will watch our films irrespective of when they release. And this film will not disappoint you.

BP: Everyone has worked sincerely on this film and I am sure that will come across to the audience. Also, there is a lot to learn from Malhar’s story, his ups and downs. And it is not just his story but also Gauri’s and her dreams for her husband. This film is about supporting and helping each other and we hope that sentiment reaches the audience as well.

What are your future projects?

PP: I have three films releasing in 2019, Grey, Basta and another film whose title I cannot share at this point. Thankfully, my character in each of these films is very different from the others.

BP: I will have had three releases this year: Amhi Doghi, Re Raya and now Tu Tithe Asave. In 2019, I have Shimga, which will hit cinemas in February or March. Then there is my Hindi film debut with Raima Sen. The first schedule is complete. And there is a film I have done with Pallavi, which is yet to release. The title is yet to be finalised.


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