Last year’s film ‘Bal Gandharva’ gave one a glimpse into the world of the ultimate showman of Marathi cinema,Narayan Shripad Rajhans,popularly known as Balgandharva. In February,the film ‘Gola Berij’ by Kshitij Zarapkar opened doors to the life journey of P L Deshpande,the iconic figure associated with the Marathi literature. ‘Sant Tukaram’ will chronicle the life of the 17th century Marathi poet. Ambitious biopics and events associated with them are increasingly finding favour among Marathi film-makers as well as the audience.
While such topics may have the relative advantage of a ready subject,the genre also comes with the challenge of portraying the topic with utmost authenticity,sincerity and accountability. For instance,in the case of ‘Sant Tukaram’,which is slated for a June release,a four century older era had to be cinematically recreated for the audience of the 21st century. All through the shoot,I worked within the boundary of authenticity. When you are dealing with a phenomenon of a subject like Sant Tukaram,there is no room for depicting something which will be misinterpreted by the audience, says director Chandrakant Kulkarni.
To get into the skin of the character of the protagonist for the film ‘Bal Gandharva’ was exceptionally demanding on actor Subodh Bhave. Even though he was playing the role of a legendary theatre personality,there was no possibility of taking any kind of visual reference from Bal Gandharvas work,because there are just a handful of films or videos available in the market. A film by V Shantaram called Dharmatma,and a video in the possession of National Film Archives of India,are the two most well-preserved ones. For almost seven months,I read all the possible books and articles on him. I met people who knew him as a person, says Bhave. ‘Bal Gandharva’ bagged three National Awards this year.
Similarly,the concept of the film ‘Sant Tukaram’ was born after a good four years of research put in by the writer brothers Ajit and Prashant Dalvi. It was followed by one year of pre-production work and then the shoot. The first film on Sant Tukaram was made in 1936 by Prabhat Films. We are exploring the same subject after 76 years. The whole journey of Tukaram,from 1619-1650,had to be recaptured,but with a different treatment, says Kulkarni.
It’s a safe bet when your subjects are known figures or the events surrounding them,” says Kshitij Zarapkar,director of ‘Gola Berij’. The doubt whether the audience will find the character believable or not,is already taken care of. Zarapkar’s ‘Gola Berij’ depicted 32 characters through the eyes of P L (Pu La) Deshpande. I had to show the characters through his writings. Pu La always wrote in first person and I had to film within that frame, says Zarapkar. The film re-releases on May 19 in San Francisco and 12 more shows have been lined up.
Through the recently-released Ha Bharat Majha,made by Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukhtankar,movie buffs relived the anti-graft movement initiated by Anna Hazare. Sukhtankar states that though the film was inspired by Anna Hazares movement,the filmmakers consciously did not take any political stand in the film. It is about a middle class family and how they get affected by the movement while watching it on television. Even though we have used the original television footage and clippings of Annas movement,speeches by him were included nowhere in the film, says Sukhtankar.