In the last 15 years, Marathi filmmaker Sandeep Manohar Navre has made nearly a dozen Marathi films. However, he says the experience of making one documentary surpasses all his past experiences of film-making. And the reason, he says, is that the documentary deals with a man larger than life — Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar — a social reformer, politician and economist whose 125th birth anniversary is celebrated on April 14.
The documentary titled Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar… A Man of the Century was screened at the UN Conference held in New York on April 13. The event was organised by the Permanent Mission of India to the UN in association with the Kalpana Saroj Foundation and Foundation For Human Horizon.
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“There’s a lot of difference when one is dealing with a commercial film that is fictional and a documentary that deals with a real figure, a famous personality. One can take a lot of creative liberty in commercial films but documentary has to stick to facts. Therefore, the genre is very challenging,” says Navre, who hails from Pune and whose past Marathi films include Langar, Gadad Jambhal, Karar, Pakada-Pakadi, among others.
Navre says that while the documentary is 28-minute long, just a 10-minute footage was screened at the event in New York in order to fit in the timings assigned to all the programmes scheduled on the day.
The documentary, he says, chronicles Ambedkar’s ideologies and his contribution to the Indian society. “The project came to me around one-and-a-half month ago. In the limited time span, I had to do my research work. I read a few books that dealt with him and his ideologies. Then I interviewed a few people that included his relatives as well. Besides, through Kalpana Saroj Foundation, I managed to procure a few archives and footages from Film Division of India,” says Navre, adding that while the first draft was ready roughly a month back, he completed the final project only a week ago.
In future, Navre plans to approach the state government to showcase the film in schools, colleges, as well as social and cultural events.
Talking about his personal views on Ambedkar’s ideologies and his understanding of the subject, the film-maker says, “He (Ambedkar) was against the entire caste system. However, in order to suit their own motives, politicians over the past few decades started connecting his ideologies with the ‘SC/ST’ issue. I personally feel that while reservation is required for the downtrodden, those who have risen in their status in the society through reservation should give it (reservation) up. Why do their second generation require a reservation?”
The film, he says, came to him at a time when he was busy with another project that dealt with Lord Buddha with a different production company.
“On one hand, I was working with a film on Buddha. On the other, I was offered to work on a documentary on the man who spearheaded the Dalit Buddhist Movement. It was my destiny that brought me close to this project. Otherwise, there are so many talented film-makers in the industry,” says Navre.