In the climactic scene of the newly-released Marathi feature film Police Line, the prodigal son, who returns to his family home after twenty years, is seated in a chauffeur-driven Mercedez and he concludes that nothing will ever change for personnel of the Mumbai Police.
Exceptions notwithstanding, the man being driven around in the fast car in the last few minutes of the film could very well have been Constable Deepak Pawar, whose one-sentence story pitch released as a two-hour film across 128 theatres in Maharashtra on Friday.
Pawar, 39, who grew up at the GRP quarters in Ghatkopar, returned there almost ten years later last year when the filming began in May.
“We shot 80 per cent of the film there,” Pawar said, referring to the crumbling structure that has stayed upright since 1965 in spite of numerous occasions when slabs from the ceiling have collapsed — sometimes on the heads of unfortunate residents.
Just like Pawar, posted currently at the Bandra railway police station, the film’s protagonist Balkrushna ‘Bala’ Desai, played by Santosh Juvekar, leaves the quarters permanently to prosper elsewhere. But unlike in Pawar’s case, Juvekar’s character does not follow his father’s footsteps and enroll in the police.
Pawar had left the quarters after he and his brother, who runs a cable business, saved up enough to buy an apartment in Nahur.
The film chronicles the ups and downs in the lives of a group of young men whose fathers serve in the police. Each of them is faced with a choice — throw away your dreams and join the police or risk losing your home.
Along the way, the film makes damning observations about life in the police force, and repercussions it has on the offspring of the policemen. The first of many motivations that drive Bala out of the quarters is when the father (Pradip Pathwardhan) of his girlfriend Divya Deshmukh (debutant Sayali Sanjeev), dismissing the police as corrupt, declares he will not allow his daughter to live in a “4×4 room”.
With a brief story idea in his head in 2012, Pawar first approached Amar Parkhe, now cinematographer who had grown up with him at the quarters. Parkhe put Pawar in touch with Raju Parsekar, who eventually directed the film.
“I told him only one sentence, of all the things I had seen growing up in the quarters. He really liked and thought it could send a great social message,” Pawar said.
Juvekar was similarly persuaded to come on board.
Throughout Sunday, Pawar fielded phone calls from colleagues and collaborators with news that his film has sold out at several theaters. On Friday, he visited a couple of theaters and listened as audiences filed out after the show. “I heard some people say that they goosebumps during one scene,” he said.
Pawar will wait a week before celebrating its success, for there are creditors he has to answer to. “I didn’t have enough money when work on the film began. So a few friends in the police force helped out financially.,” he said.
Irrespective of how the film fairs, Pawar, who is in his 21st year in service, has resolved to direct some percentages of the profits to the Maharashtra Police Welfare Fund.