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Monday, August 02, 2021

Girish Kulkarni: Hindi film industry typecasts you immediately, they don’t want to explore

Actor Girish Kulkarni started his acting career with theatre where he was noticed by late Marathi filmmaker Sumitra Bhave who cast him in a short film. She later became a mentor for the actor.

By: PTI | New Delhi |
June 25, 2021 8:41:10 pm
girish kulkarniGirish Kulkarni in a still from ZEE5 series Sunflower. (Photo: ZEE5/Instagram)

Every film is a journey into the unknown and that’s what makes it special, says actor-filmmaker Girish Kulkarni, who was already an important name in the Marathi cinema before Anurag Kashyap’s Ugly and Netflix series Sacred Games brought him to the attention of the Hindi audiences.

Kulkarni started his acting career with theatre where he was noticed by late Marathi filmmaker Sumitra Bhave who cast him in a short film. She later became a mentor for the actor, who features in her last directorial venture Dithee.

The actor, best known for his Marathi and Hindi films such as Gabhricha Paus, Gandha, Masala, Postcard, Pune 52, Highway, Faster Fene, Dangal, Fanney Khan and Firebrand, said cinema and writing for him have always been means to understand and explore something new.

“When I did my first film, I did not know anything about filmmaking but I had this determination and eventually I did my first film, then my second and third. With every film, we were determined to do something new, something unexplored and unknown, something that we did not understand but wanted to,” the 43-year-old actor told PTI in an interview.

“The pandemic has taught us that we can’t think too much into the future so it would be better to live in the present,” he added.

This is why, the actor said, he likes to take time out to explore and experience life as most of his films, be it the critically-acclaimed Vihir or Deool, come from his personal experiences. These movies were directed by his brother Umesh Kulkarni.

“I am not that busy an actor as I am very selective with my acting assignments because I need to live life to experience it. Whatever movies I have written, they have been inspired somewhere from some aspect of my life,” he said.

After Ugly, in which he essayed the role of a police officer, Kulkarni remembers getting multiple offers to play a similar part.

He said he turned down everything except Rakesh Roshan’s Kaabil as he could not say no to the veteran director. “The Hindi film industry typecasts you immediately. People try to typecast you by giving you similar work and then it becomes boring. They don’t want to explore because they don’t have the time to invest in you. The reason to work in Marathi is that one can work in one’s language and give it time. I keep taking time out to do Marathi movies or to learn something new,” he said.

In Dithee, which is currently streaming on Sony LIV, the actor plays a villager who has a childlike curiosity about life. The film revolves around the life of a humble ironsmith Ramji, who is dealing with the loss of his young son.

Kulkarni vividly remembers the time he spent shooting the film in a remote village with the late director, who died in April this year at the age of 78 due to lung ailments.

She was, he said, like a great banyan tree for emerging as well as established filmmakers and actors in Marathi cinema.

“It’s very hard to cope with the fact that she’s no longer with us. She gave me my first opportunity to face the movie camera. She had watched one of my plays, and she loved my acting. And so she called up and said, ‘I’m doing this Hindi film on AIDS and there will be Om Puri sahab and all these people. Can you do a scene for me?’ She was a phenomenon, a learned person, sort of like a great banyan tree. Like all my contemporaries, I also thrived to be like her,” he said.

According to the actor, Bhave, fondly known in the Marathi cinema community as ‘Mausi’ (aunt), was always eager to engage with society and accept it in all its forms and varieties.

“She was very curious about certain behaviour patterns of society, certain traditions, and in general the very constitution of society. She was always intrigued by that and searching to establish a dialogue with the person and society. The relationship between these two was an intriguing aspect for her,” he mused.

Kulkarni said working on Dithee was a “joyride”.

“I remember it was pouring cats and dogs. We were in a small village and all the roads were full of mud. We would be covered in mud while travelling from the shooting area to where we used to stay. But it was such fun. Mausi was everywhere, from advising the caterer to taking care of the finest of the aspects of filmmaking. She would get involved in all the little facets of life because for her filmmaking was like that, a way to understand life.”

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