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Darker Shades of Fame

Pune-based filmmaker Yogesh Jadhav talks about his Marathi film Natee, inspired by the life of Parveen Babi.

Updated: September 6, 2014 12:04:27 am
Ajinkya Deo and Tejaa Deokar in a still from the film Natee. Ajinkya Deo and Tejaa Deokar in a still from the film Natee.

By Sneha Dey

In January 2005, when Hindi film actor Parveen Babi was found dead in her Mumbai apartment, it once again exposed the dark, almost-acknowledged facet of fame. Several Hindi filmmakers in the past have scrutinised the darker shades of limelight, with films such as Fashion (2008), Heroine (2012) and The Dirty Picture (2011). Mahesh Bhatt-produced Woh Lamhe (2006), in fact, was based on Babi’s own life.

However, the subject remained unexplored in Marathi cinema, until Pune-based film director Yogesh Ramesh Jadhav decided to address it through his next, Natee, which releases on September 19.

The film is partly inspired by Babi’s life and narrates the story of Maharashtrian Sulakshana Shinde, who becomes the victim of her own fame. A regular girl, she overcomes many hurdles to become an established star, and adopts the screen name Resham. But she pays the price for chasing the limelight and one by one, her relationships, both within the industry and in her personal life, suffer a strain until she finds herself utterly lonely. As she ages, her charisma fades too and eventually, she dies. “Although the subject isn’t new, it is absolutely untapped in the Marathi film fraternity,” says Jadhav, “We decided to set Natee in a Maharashtrian home to establish a connect with the Marathi audience.”

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While the film is loosely based on Babi’s story, the idea is originally borrowed from Sangte Aika, the autobiography of Marathi stage and screen actor from the ’40s, Hansa Wadkar. The book, which Shyam Benegal adapted as Bhumika, is an account of the actor’s flamboyant and unconventional life as she dabbled with the question of identity. Natee, however, also finds inspiration in the 1959 Hindi classic, Kaagaz Ke Phool. “I met Pune-based producer-director Neeta Deokar to discuss the plot. She was looking for a powerful, woman-centric script for her daughter, actor Tejaa Deokar. Jadhav, and this subject interested her,” says Jadhav.

An alumni of Abasaheb Garware College, Pune, Jadhav graduated in Marathi literature and decided to pursue a career in the film industry as a director soon after. His first stint was as an assistant director for the Marathi soap, Duniyadari, in 2004. He followed it up with another low-budget feature film, Arey! Deva (2006), where he assisted director Hemant Deokar. “The turning point came in 2007 when I got to work as an associate director in the blockbuster film Jau Tithe Khau by Abhay Kirti,” says Jadhav, who also worked as a technical director in this year’s National Award-winning film, Kapus Kondyachi Goshta.

Apart from Tejaa, Natee also has Subodh Bhave and Ajinkya Deo playing key roles. The shoot, says Jadhav, took about a year to complete. Speaking about his experience of working with a strong star cast, the 35-year-old director says, “On a creative level, Natee has been a huge opportunity for me. All the actors are powerhouses of talent, especially Tejaa, who heavily researched her part; it made my work as a director easier.”

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