Filmmaker Ravi Jadhav was faced with a dilemma last year when his 13-year-old son asked him why the girls who used to play with him earlier chose to stay away from him now. Jadhav understood his sons quandary,but found it difficult to answer it. This and several such instances laid the foundation for his new movie. Balak Palak (abbreviated to BP,which is also a reference to blue prints or pornographic films). Like my son,many other kids ask their parents similar questions. I also realised the need to educate our children about sex at a young age,so that they understand and act accordingly, says Jadhav,who has been invited to show the film at South Asian International Film Festival (SAIFF) in New York this month.
Helping him in his cause is Bollywood actor Riteish Deshmukh who makes his debut as a producer with this film. It was during a casual meeting that Jadhav happened to narrate the films story to Deshmukh,who was blown away with it. The actor promptly decided to take it upon himself to produce this film. I have always believed that we could do more with regional cinema. The fact that it has been chosen to be screened at SAIFF proves that Balak Palak is a story that cuts across boundaries and age groups.
Balak Palak,which talks about the importance of sex education,focusses on how few parents are keen to discuss the sensitive subject with their children. Teen queries on this subject are often dealt with a slap or a shout, says Jadhav. BP is about four teenage friends (Avya,Bhagya,Chiu and Dolly),who overhear that their friend Jyotitai,a resident of their colony,has moved out because she brought disgrace to her family. Having received unsatisfactory explanations from their parents regarding Jyotitais exit,the four take up the challenge to find out what her disgraceful act was.
They end up befriending a schoolmate Vishu,who is older to them and more mature. He introduces them to the world of blue movies and believes that one has to read,watch and,if need be,perform to understand the true meaning of life (read sex).
Jadhav is known to extensively study the subjects of his films. As a result of the efforts, his first two films,Natarang and Balgandharva,won critical acclaim,box office success as well as national awards. His research for Balak Palak was more academic. I went to schools,met principals and teachers. I also met a lot of parents,tried to understand the psyche of the teenager before I got down to writing the script, says Jadhav. The filmmakers biggest concern was to make it entertaining for the audiences. I wanted to string the film together with humour,which,I believe,is the only way to reach out to the youth, says the director,who spent a year writing the film.
Jadhav hopes that the attempt proves to be path-breaking in Marathi cinema since the subject of sex education has rarely been addressed before. There is hope in the success of offbeat Marathi films such as Deool,Harishchandrachi Factory. My aim is to make a difference through my cinema,and to rid the society of clichés.