Updated: January 22, 2021 11:19:35 am
One of the films that is a part of the Indian Panorama section of the 51st edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), being held in Goa and online till January 24, is about a fictional “last joint family of Pune”.
Titled Karkhanisanchi Waari (Ashes on a Road Trip), it is by Mangesh Joshi, famous for the critically acclaimed 2016 Marathi film Lathe Joshi, and features several members of the Karkhanis clan, which is packed into a Maruti Omni on a road trip from Pune to Pandharpur to fulfill the late patriarch’s dying wish.
“An elderly relative, from my extended family, passed away in 2016 a day before the Waari procession was to start, when lakhs of people walk from all over Maharashtra to Pandharpur. The man had been suffering from several health complications so his passing was not a surprise, but the Waari added to the complication of his last rites. While the family discussed the funeral, I began thinking of the story. The writer, Archana Borhade, and I began to write a screenplay, based on real characters from my family put into fictional setting. How would they react to various situations? Gradually, a black comedy emerged and we could begin shoot in August 2019,” says Joshi, who grew up in a wada in the old part of Pune.
Why did he feel the need to make a joint family the subject of the film? “There are hardly any joint families left in Pune. I have seen so many large families split due to a lack of space and privacy. Globalisation brought the notions of commerce even in relationships. Earlier, the houses may have been smaller but hearts were large. Today, houses and hearts seem to have become small,” he says. The car that is a character by itself in the film symbolises the “family car” that was once the pride of joint families.
Karkhanisanchi Waari is among the six powerful Marathi films — three feature and three non-feature— that have been selected for the Indian Panorama. Though the coronavirus pandemic was far away when Joshi made the film, it opens in a world scarred by death and devastation. Joshi has spent the pandemic months, when he wasn’t finishing post-production on Karkhanisanchi Waari, thinking of another story which also takes a comic look at death.
“I have begun to feel that, maybe, it is not the dead but the living who should be pitied,” he says. The film has been produced by Nine Archers Picture Company and ABP Studios is a Co-producer.
Karkhanisanchi Waari has tackled adversity from the beginning. The film unfolds on the road in places such as Pune, Dehu, Pandharpur and Paltan, among others. Joshi says shooting on the road was “very difficult”, especially as he had wanted a “monsoon feel” to the film and scheduled filming in August, when the state experienced heavy rainfall and flooding.
Ever so often, Joshi would receive news that a site, where he was to shoot, was submerged. “We used to think, ‘Let’s keep going because we can’t cancel the shoot. We have a limited budget and no luxury of cancelling. Most often, by the time we reached a place, the water level would have gone down and we could continue filming,” he says.
Born into a family of film buffs, Joshi watched regional films on Doordarshan as a child. When he could not understand the English subtitles, he used to try guessing the storyline and character motivations. After engineering college, he joined a prestigious research organisation and found himself spending the night shift in his isolated laboratory, writing stories.
When he went to his superior to put in his papers because he wanted to make films, most people thought he was joking. Since then, Joshi has made He…, a Bhojpuri film produced by NFDC, Lathe Joshi and Karkhanisanchi Waari, and he is gearing up to tell more stories.
“I have a million stories to tell and I don’t think my lifetime will be sufficient,” he says.
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