Sachin Pilgaonkar talks to Box Office India about his upcoming film Waras, and his long innings in films and television
On Spending More Than Five Decades In The Industry
I started my career in in 1962 and my first film released in 1963. That makes it 54 years in the industry. And my journey is still on, by God’s grace, and I intend to keep it going for a long time. I am very happy that people have grown up watching my work and still remember it.
I am a crazy guy and I love to laugh and make people laugh. That is probably why I find it easy doing comedy, a comic film or television show. It is not easy to make people laugh but I opted for comedy because I did not want to do something that was easy.
From Child Actor To A Hero
Since childhood, I have acted in more than 65 films and then I became a so-called ‘hero’. I say ‘so-called’ because I was 18 years old when Geet Gaata Chal released. Even after that, I was always given roles that had a lot of pathos, like my character in Brahmachari. When I grew up, the films I did were very serious, like Ankhiyon Ke Jharokhon Se and Balika Badhu. They were good films but I was never offered fun roles.
As a child, I always wanted to play a role like ‘Dennis’ from Dennis The Menace but I never got one because people in the industry felt I was innocent and I would be better at making people cry rather than laugh. That’s the kind of impression people had of me.
When I became a director in 1981, I wanted to make a comedy film. But people felt I wouldn’t be able to make a comedy film as it contradicted my image. I was told that the image people had of me was one where I could make people cry. They told me I should make a film that gelled with that image or else people wouldn’t take me seriously. So I made a Marathi film titled Mai Baap, a typical family drama.
My second film was also very serious. It was produced by my father, who passed away while the film was being made. The film did not get a good release and hence it did not do well. But with the third film I made, I put my foot down as a director and made a comedy film. It was called Navri Mile Navryala. The title of the film came true because, in reality too, I got a bride, who was the lead actress opposite me, Supriya. When I did Navri Mile Navryala, my career as an actor was not doing well. Although I signed 10 films after marriage and earned money, my career was stagnant. I was typecast in most of the films I did.
On Making Films
The biggest compliment I have ever received was a call from V Shantaramji. He said he wanted me to direct a film for him – and nobody other than he had directed a film under his own banner. He said I should do the film in my style, not his. He said, ‘People will come to see your film and if I have to make it, then I will make it in my style, and people will come to watch that film.’
I made Ashi Hi Banwa Banwi, which was a super-duper hit. The subject, presentation and humor is very relevant today too. I have never made a comedy without pathos. Comedy that has no emotional undercurrent is taken very lightly by the audience.
Ashi Hi Banwa Banwi was a runaway hit and then I started making films. I made a Hindi film called Prem Deewane with Jackie Shroff, Madhuri Dixit Nene, Pooja Bhatt and Vivek Mushran. Lots of youngsters loved the film at the time but the film was way ahead of its time and that’s why it did about 15 weeks at Metro. It did well and people earned money.
I am also proud of another film I made called Aisi Bhi Kya Jaldi Hai in Hindi for Zee. I kept on making the kind of films I wanted to and also acted in a couple of films. But the ones I acted in didn’t do well. Then, in 2013, I had the privilege of introducing my daughter to the industry. I made a film titled Ekulti Ek with Shriya. The film did well but fell below my expectations but Shriya got seven awards for her performance. As an actor, she had made her mark and was appreciated. Fortunately, I have never lost any money in a film I have made.
On Foraying Into Television
A friend of mine, Shrey Guleri, asked me to make shows for television. I was not willing to do television at all as I thought it was not a medium I would like. But this guy pursued me for six months till I agreed.
He wanted me to make a mega-serial, very rich and with lots of costumes. I said no because, when you make a mega-serial, it leaves no scope to make it bigger. I said I might as well do something small, a comedy between a saas and a bahu. That’s how we made Tu Tu Main Main.
With that, people who had asked me to direct films shied away from me because I had got busy in television. I was really busy. I have a habit of doing everything myself but luckily I got a good writer for Tu Tu Main Main, that was Sajeev Kapoor, who also wrote Aisi Bhi Kya Jaldi Hai for me. We worked well together. People told me a hit serial usually works for around a year and that was my time frame for Tu Tu Main Main. The serial lasted
On Making Navra Mazha Navsacha
I finally decided to make that I had thought of back in 1982. The producers had said back then that it was too expensive and that’s why I had kept it on the back burner. In 2004, I decided to produce the film myself and then I made Navra Mazha Navsacha. Around 70 per cent of the film was a bus journey and the other 30 per cent was a prologue type of thing and ultimately there was the climax. The film was a roaring success. It celebrated a genuine silver jubilee, not in matinee shows but in regular shows as well. It celebrated a silver jubilee in a multiplex in Pune, which is very rare.
On Reality Shows
In July 2005, we got an offer for Nach Baliye. Surpriya was not doing anything then but I had to direct a film in Kannada, which was a remake of Navra Mazha Navsacha. The actor, Vishnuvardhanji, insisted that I direct the film. I suggested that he take the rights and make the film but he insisted on me directing it as he was a big fan of Tu Tu Main Main.
I had committed to making the film in October and then Nach Baliye came our way. I called up the producers and Vishnuji said we could start the shoot in January since Nach Baliye would end in December. I had a feeling that we would win Nach Baliye. I believe we were destined to win it and, on December 15, 2005, we got
We had started the year with the release of Navra Mazha Navsacha and ended the year with the Nach Baliye trophy. So you can imagine what 2005 was like. Then Zee Marathi offered me a dance reality show, where I would be a maha guruwith three judges. Later, the same concept was used to make Dance India Dance. They asked me to produce it as well and I got on board as a producer too. The show became a massive hit and we completed
On Katyar Kaljat Ghusali
In 2014, I received an offer to act in a film based on a legendary play which had been performed about 50 years ago. My friend and co-actor Subodh Bhave dreamt of making it into a feature film titled Katyar Kaljat Ghusali, in which he wanted me to play the central character, Khan sahib.
I was really happy that he wanted to direct a film for the first time but I was surprised when he offered me the role. I am fluent in Urdu. You see, I don’t think in Marathi or Hindi or English but in Urdu. Thanks to Meena (Kumari) aapa. At the age of nine, she made sure I had an interest in the language. Hence I agreed to play the part in his film on the condition that I would speak only in Urdu. I assured them that the audience wouldn’t even know that in a Marathi film I am not speaking Marathi and that I would go with the flow of the narrative.
His only condition was that I look old. After the look test, we arrived at one look, and when Subodh saw me in character, he was stunned and said, ‘Khan sahib.’ There were many who criticised me for being part of the film and posted some nasty things on social media platforms. Some said that the biggest mistake Subodh Bhave had made was to cast Sachin Pilgaonkar in this role. I went on to win an award for my performance in the film. That’s how people’s perception of me changed after so many years, after doing this one film.
On Upcoming Projects
I am doing two Marathi films, of which the first will release soon. The film is titled Waras and it has been directed by Rakesh Sarang. The film has been produced by Joe Rajan, Ratan Jain and Gseams Productions, while Viacom18 Motion Pictures is also involved in the film. I am very happy to be working with my son Swwapnil Joshi. Mine is a very serious role and it is a very serious film. It is a story of a father and a son. Swwapnil was instrumental in making me part of
The other Marathi film I am doing is titled Jawani Janema. It is a comedy about a middle-aged man who wants to feel young. The film is being directed by Manoj Sawant, who is an old associate. The film I will be directing too has been finalised but I am yet to start writing it.