Films inspired by true stories aren’t a new concept. Take for instance, the biopic Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. But what if the protagonist and the subject are the same person? Actor-producer Riteish Deshmukh, Uttung Hitendra Thakur and Mahesh Limaye — the crew for Balak Palak — sat for hours in a coffee shop in Mumbai to discuss this idea. The meeting ended with Limaye reassuring them that he could pull it off. A year later, they have announced the release of their upcoming Marathi film Yellow. “The interesting feature of the film is that the girl who plays the protagonist is the one who has inspired the film,” says Limaye. It is the story of how Gauri Gadgil, who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome at birth, overcomes her limitations to do something extraordinary.
Limaye found Gadgil’s story in a newspaper and followed up with the publication for her coordinates. He stayed at her home along with the crew to observe her habits, lifestyle and get acquainted with her; her parents were only happy to help. The crew’s research included sending questionnaires to schools for special students. “We noticed they are so full of energy that it rubs off on other children,” says Limaye.
To play a younger Gadgil, Limaye found Sanjana, another cheerful girl with Down Syndrome. They also changed scenes according to the girls’ convenience, which eventually made the film richer.
Limaye’s work as Director of Photography includes Natrang (2010), Corporate (2006), Fashion (2008), Dabangg (2010) and its sequel in 2012. “As a DoP, I often advise the director. I was writing a love story when Riteish and Uttung came to me with the idea of something on special children. This was a challenge for me, and I learnt a lot, both professionally and personally,” he says.