Renuka Shahane, the actress we remember for her smile, is back but this time as a director. Shahane recently visited Film Bazaar to pitch her film. Here’s a tête tête with her.
On turning director
When I started my career, my second serial was Lifeline on Doordarshan. This was back in 1988. I was the fourth assistant director and I loved that job. I thought it was the best job ever. The director is the captain of the ship, and whether you receive bouquets or bricksback, it is the director who takes responsibility. So I have always loved being the person who has taken charge of all aspects of the creative process. Later, when my acting career took off, I suddenly became very popular and it became very difficult to getting extract from what was happening. And my actual passion got blurred.
Writing happened and that brought me creative satisfaction. But once I started enjoying so much. There came a time when I had had enough of acting on television; I would see myself on TV every day. Then I got married and had children and I was happy in that zone. Then, one day my, husband gently reminded me that I should not waste my talent. When I said I was not interested in what was happening on television, he said, ‘What about writing?’
So, I picked up one of my mother’s (Shanta Gokhale) novels which she had written in 1993, called Rita Welingker. It had a very strong female protagonist and I decided to convert it into screenplay. When I finished, I narrated it to my mother and she loved it, and that’s how I got the confidence to pitch it to others. And that’s how I made my first film in Marathi which released in 2009.
On her next film
My next film is called Tribhanga. It’s a very arthouse script, so I sent it to the Mumbai Sundance Scriptwriters Lab and it was selected. In 2013, I was mentored in that lab by some writers. I felt, more and more, that writing was a part of me DNA as my mother is a writer. After I was mentored, it took me a long time to arrive at the final draft. When I thought, yes, this could be the perfect draft, I sent it to the co-production market and it was selected.
It’s an English film but the characters are from a Marathi family. It’s got a little bit of Marathi in it. In urban India, English is spoken freely, and that’s why I decided to make the film in English. So I am here looking for producers and also sending feelers to actors.
Story of her film
It’s about three powerful women from the same family. All three women are very high achievers, like the grandmother is a critically acclaimed author and has won the Sahitya award and she is a Padmabhushan. Her daughter is an Odissi dancer and a Padmashree. And her daughter is a housewife. So it’s about the relationship between these women but spiked with wit.
My characters will not speak Marathi; there is an authenticity about speaking English. The kind of language we have used will do justice to the film. And they are very upper class, elite women who have toured the world and have had relationships with men who are not from their country. That’s why I chose English.