After watching Kaaka Muttai, a 2015 Tamil film about two brothers from a slum and their quest to taste pizza, Samit Kakkad realised it was a story that would translate seamlessly to Marathi cinema. Maharashtra, says Kakkad, has 11 million people living in slums, one the highest populations in India. Moreover, Kaaka Muttai’s message was universal. “It is a film about desire,” says Kakkad. “Language is not a barrier in this story.”
For 36-year-old Kakkad, remaking Kaaka Muttai, a National Award-winning and highly acclaimed film, did not require many changes. “I have not played with the soul of the original,” says Kakkad about the film that released on July 22. Having grown up in Mumbai, he has added details that are singular to the city. The trailer of the film goes to great lengths to show this, interspersing shots of the local trains with seaside dockyards. The movie is set in the slums of Darukhana and Koyla Bunder in the Reay Road and Cotton Green areas of Mumbai. “I wanted to make the location a character in itself,” he says.
The choice of slums is also personal. It was where his grandfather grew up; his mother used to tell him stories of her childhood there. “Part of making this film was going back to my roots,” says Kakkad. “I realised there’s nothing more important than remembering where you come from.”
It was important to Kakkad that the film should not be stereotypical, teeming with shots of poverty, misery and uncleanliness that people associate with the slums and their dwellers. “For the kids in the slums, Mumbai is their playground. They are street-smart and tough, and just like other children, they fool around and have fun. Their families care deeply about one another. There is beauty in the slums too.” Fox Star Studios, which co-produced Kakka Muttai with Dhanush, is distributing Half Ticket.
Kaddad, who made his directorial debut with the Marathi film Aayna Ka Bayna in 2012, says that the nature of the city makes it impossible to forget the more disadvantaged; the rich and poor live side by side. “People are connected,” he says, “but we simply don’t have the time to care. I want to show better-off Mumbaikers that, look, this is your city too.”