Filmmaker Ravi Jadhav has an innate power of transforming bold themes into dynamic cinema. If his 2013 film Balak Palak won acclaim for its focus on adolescents watching porn films, his recent short film Mitraa on homosexuality has won awards in two categories at Kashish 2014 – Mumbai International Queer Film Festival.
Declared the Best Indian Narrative Short, and Special Mention for its lead actor Veena Jamkar, the script melds a poem and a short story. “Through each film, I educate myself. People find the themes of my films bold but I feel they deal with subjects that are close to reality,” says Jadhav.
Mitraa is one of the four short films that form the Marathi film Bioscope, scheduled to release in August. The screenplay fuses Marathi poet Sandip Khare’s poem Udaasit Ya Konta Rang Aahe and Vijay Tendulkar’s book Mitrachi Goshta. “Poetry, as an art form, is difficult to understand and with this thought, I with three filmmakers, Gajendra Ahire, Girish Mohite and Viju Mane, set out to make a short film each, based on the work of a poet of our choice,” says Jadhav.
Last year, he came across Khare’s Udaasit Ya… The poem was written by Khare when he had graduated from college and had to make a choice between engineering and poetry. “The poem reveals his ‘blurriness’ of thought that he experienced then. They say, while a poet may have penned his work with a certain thought, it is interpreted subjectively by people. In my case, I could connect the poem to Section 377, a topic much discussed last year. As far as the rights of the LGBT community are concerned, there is a lot of ambiguity,” he says.
After finalising the film’s theme, Jadhav found Tendulkar’s Mitrachi Goshta apt, as it complimented Khare’s work. “Tendulkar wrote this story in 1974. It was conceived in 1946 when he had watched a drama that had an element of homosexuality,” he says.
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Shot in Pune, Mitraa revolves around a young boy and a girl. While the boy is deeply in love with the girl, the girl is indifferent. In the end, he finds out that she is a lesbian. Mitraa is deliberately made as a black-and-white film. “When I was writing the screenplay and thinking about people who are affected by Section 377, everything was colourless. In real life too, these people may appear happy but internally, they are displeased by society’s insensitive attitude towards them,” says Jadhav.
Shooting in black-and-white was challenging, he says. “Every department needed detailing — make-up, costumes, music, sound and light. Since it is set in the pre-Independence era, the dialogues are heavy and have pauses, the sound is low-pitched and the music, piano-based,” he says.
Jadhav’s penchant for bringing out the best in his films comes from his time as a creative director with Mumbai-based ad agency Draft Fcb Ulka, where he worked from 1995 to 2008. He was the driving force behind popular ad campaigns such as Amul, Nerolac, Ceat and Voltas. His first film Natarang (2010) won the National Award for Best Marathi film, while Balgandharva (2011) went on to win National Awards in three categories. Time Pass, Jadhav’s 2014 release, broke all Marathi film box-office records when it collected Rs 310 million in three weeks.