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Son-ny Side Up

He has only a few films in his portfolio in the Marathi film industry but has already hit the bull’s eye with his latest release Zapatlela 2. Hailing from a film family, Adinath Kothare had some pretty big shoes to fill – that of his visionary director, actor, producer father Mahesh Kothare’s. In a tete-a-tete with Sagorika Dasgupta, Jr Kothare talks about the Marathi film industry and his journey to stardom

Your latest film Zapatlela 2 is a smashing hit. How does that make you feel?

It is a hugely satisfying feeling. I am on top of the world! I am really glad that all the hard work paid off. This is the happiest feeling an actor can ever have!

What kind of response have you received for the film?

I was very eager to gauge the audience reaction and so, the day the film released, I went with a camera to cinemas and met with members of the audience during the interval. The response was overwhelming and I was humbled by the appreciation I received for the film. It’s the most genuine response I have ever got. Audience opinion is the best report card for any film. And with Zapatlela 2, they said they were in love with my character. It was one of the best moments of my life.

How has the industry responded to the film?

Very positively. I have received a pat on my back from most Marathi filmmakers. Dad got a lot of appreciation too. Mahesh Manjrekar called up my father and congratulated him. The Marathi film industry is very close knit and we are like a family. So every time a film does well, everyone appreciates the work that went into it.

How will the success of Zapatlela 2 impact the Marathi film industry on the whole?

The film has done roaring business of more than Rs 10 crore. So it is a big boost for all of us. I think Zapatlela 2 is this year’s second successful Marathi film after Riteish Deshmukh’s Balak Palak became a hit earlier this year. I hope there are more successes because not only is it a boost to our respective careers, it benefits the Marathi film industry as a whole.

Was there a lot of pressure to portray the lead role, since there was a lot riding on the film?

Oh yes! It was the first time Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Moving Pictures were trying their hand at Marathi films. So, yes, a lot was riding on this film. It was a very daring attempt too, because my father was directing the first-ever 3D Marathi film. The moment you make a 3D film, the costs double and shooting is complicated. So, definitely, there was a lot of pressure on me.

Now I feel relieved because the film has done so well. We have achieved great returns on our investment. But the most satisfying bit is the business the film has generated even though it is a Marathi film. There are probably only a handful of 3D Hindi films that have done the kind of business our film has.

We hear that you’re now considered a hunk in the Marathi film industry and are also sporting the customary ‘six-pack’?

(Laughs) Yes, I do have a six-pack but it was for my role in Zapatlela 2. They wanted me to look lean and lose some weight since I had to look like I was in my late teens. While I am not very far from that age, I did have to work out. So, while sweating away those calories, I decided to go the whole hog. Too bad, I didn’t get a chance to flaunt my six-pack in the film!

But due to that, are there a lot of offers coming your way now?

Yes. A few directors saw my pictures and have offered me some great roles!

What films do you have in your kitty?

I am doing another film with Moving Pictures called Sata Lota. It’s a comedy. It is directed by Shrabani Deodhar who is a very senior Marathi film director and she is directing after a long time. I also have a film with Rahul Jadhav and another one, which is still on paper, with Rajiv Patil.

Are you also getting offers from Hindi filmmakers?

I am meeting quite a few people, actually. But to be honest, I don’t see a difference between the two industries as language is not a barrier for me. As long as it’s good work, I would do any film whether English, Hindi, Tamil or Telugu. I have done two Hindi films so far, Standby and a film by Eros International called Satrangi.

What have your experiences been like in the two film industries – Hindi and Marathi?

Marathi films have a niche market while Hindi films reach out to a broader audience. But Marathi filmmakers experiment more with subjects. They are open to different genres and take a lot of risks with their themes. This is mainly because there are hardly any films that are driven by star. Instead, the star of the film is its content.

Since content drives these films, directors are fearless when it comes to trying new and edgy themes. That’s why the Marathi film industry has produced 12 to 13 innovative films over the last couple of years. The fact that these films are doing well is encouraging them to stretch their creativity to new horizons.

Budgets for Hindi films are humongous but they are soaring for Marathi films too. This is because the audience for Marathi films is increasing and there is a huge potential waiting to be explored. Zapatlela 2 made Rs 2 crore during its first weekend. This kind of business from a Marathi film was unheard of a few years ago. That is why producers are daring to invest bigger sums into Marathi films.

Your father has been a trend-setter who has introduced technologies like cinemascope, Dolby, sci-fi and now 3D to Marathi cinema.

(Cuts in) He is a visionary and I idolise him. If I have inherited even 10 per cent of his talent, I would consider myself lucky. He is one of the main pillars on whose works the Marathi film industry is resting.

Is it daunting to be Mahesh Kothare’s son? And did you have a lot of expectations to live up to?

Not really. My parents never let me feel that way. They always nurtured me to have a mind of my own. Maybe some people had expectations of me but I never looked at it that way. I was never here to do something great and out-of-the-box. I am here to enjoy the process of my life and career and be happy about it. My parents also never expected me to prove myself at the cost of my peace of mind.

Since you were a popular child artiste and subsequently an actor too, did acting come naturally to you?

You can say that, more than acting, films were a natural progression for me. I was actually more interested in direction and assisted my father from a young age. I did play a role as a child artiste as well in my father’s film Majha Chakula and I had won the State award for best child actor for it. So I guess I inherited the germ of acting.

Professional choices are not genetic, of course but one’s surroundings do impact one’s career choices. I developed a passion for direction first and made two short films. I am fortunate that I grew up in a family where films were a passion and this influenced me a lot.

You have also done theatre. Was that a deliberate decision to hone your acting skills?

Mahesh Manjrekar offered me a role in his play All The Best. It is a famous Marathi play and has been running since 1993. Stage was a great experience and it definitely sharpened my acting skills. But acting in films is very different. You perform for a live audience and the response is immediate. You also have to emote loudly and modulate your voice in such a manner that it reaches the last person in the 100th row. Film acting is more controlled but, sure, theatre is like net practice. It is a must for every actor.

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