Larger than life stories

Uttung Thakur, producer of the recently - released Marathi film Yellow talks about the challenges of a real life personality playing herself

Mumbai | Updated: April 10, 2014 12:06 pm

Yellow is the first Marathi movie to have a real life person playing herself in the movie. When Mahesh, Ritiesh( Deshmukh, co-producer ) and I were looking for an appropriate script , we chanced upon an article which had a photo Gauri Gadgil, a Down Syndrome child, holding a silver medal for swimming. We were impressed by her achievement and the attitude she carried, so we went to meet her and borrowed some interesting elements from her life. For a movie of this kind, which was a sort of biopic, we felt it was not right to have a known face play her character and so Gauri became our first and only choice. Luckily, Gauri’s parents also did not have any objection to her acting in a film.
Making a film with a real life character is a task in itself. A lot of patience is required when dealing with a specially abled character and when the director spoke to the other actors in the film about Gauri acting in the film there was a lot of resentment. But after meeting her and getting to know her the crew became comfortable. Since the film is based on Gauri’s life we did not have to give her any acting sessions as it was thought that the more naturally she reacts to a situation the better it will appear on the screen. A swimming champion in real life she barely had to take any swimming training. Gauri is very friendly in real life and so is her character in the film so it came easy to her. Personally I feel if a non-actor has to act herself or himself in a film it is easier than an actor doing the role. Learning the mannerisms and behaving like the person or training another child to play the part would have been difficult, but acting as oneself is comparatively easy.
Still, there were certain aspects to be worked on. Like Gauri had a tough time with the dialogues as she had difficulty in memorising them, and Mahesh in making her memorise them and understanding the scene. Also adding to the challenge was her voice, which was very incoherent and only her family members could understand what she was trying to convey, so her voice could not be captured in the mike. In the entire movie, she has spoken about five dialogues and the voice that is audible is a voice-over by another child. Gauri had to be herself and react naturally. If the same were to be played by a star, then it would not have been so convincing.
Intensive research is required when a director plans to make a biopic which is based on a specially abled child. Our research for the film was visiting schools and collaborating with teachers, principals and the parents of the kids to understand them.
Planning the promotional activities of a film becomes tough if you are not having a star or an actor. While handling the production of our film, Ritiesh in his capacity as the co-producer and working on the publicity of the film, looked after the campaigning and advertisements in the newspapers. It was a big high for us that many Bollywood celebrities watched and gave their positive responses to our film and applauded us for attempting such a sensitive subject. In a publicity bid, the film ‘s poster were also displayed on Tab Cabs in Mumbai, besides the unit traveling in yellow colored cabs for promotions in Pune, Nashik and Nagpur among others. TV and radio promotions also were a part of the deal. I guess all this helped our film to reach out to wider audience. To conclude, I would like to add that acting is not everyone’s cup of tea and for an individual to act as herself is even more difficult. But, Gauri as an artist has a great calibre and working with her was truly a different experience.
I salute her spirit and attitude towards work.

As told to Dhwani Mody

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