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Mahesh Manjrekar believes the story is the king in films
Debarati Palit Singh | Thursday, 16 February 2017 AT 08:00 PM IST
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The actor alongwith director Chandrakant Kulkarni and the star cast of Dhyani Mani visited Sakal Times office to promote their film recently.

Mahesh Manjrekar, whose film Dhyani Mani, released on February 10, calls himself a director’s actor. The actor-filmmaker visited Sakal Times office last week with his co-stars  — Ashwini Bhave, Abhijeet Khandkekar, Mrunmayee Deshpande, director Chandrakant Kulkarni, writer Prashant Dalvi, producer and wife Medha Manjrekar to promote the film.

Mahesh, who has also directed Marathi films, said that he doesn’t like actors sharing inputs with the director. “When I am directing a film, I won’t like it if an actor shares his or her inputs. It’s not because I undermine their inputs, but it’s not their job. If you start accommodating their suggestions, then the film will go haywire,” he said.

The actor-filmmaker goes on to add, “While working on Dhyani Mani, I had doubts about a single character which I shared with Chandrakant. That was so because I have been part of the play since its inception. Chandrakant was the boss. But he and I were on the same page.”

Dhyani Mani is not the first film that has been adapted from a play. Several Hindi,Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati films have been based on theatre productions. Is it because the filmmakers are failing to create fresh content?
To which the director of Kaksparsh replies, “How much content will they create? Look at the number of films that are being made. Sometimes, filmmakers are at a loss. If you ask me, we require good writers. There are not many writers in the Indian film industry because they are not being paid well. Prashant has the most important job in the film but he is not being paid for his job. Half of the filmmakers copy their stories from Tamil and Telugu films. Nowadays, Korean cinema is the new bible.”

At his candid best, Mahesh reveals that when he approaches the actors with scripts, they get bored within 15 minutes. “They are more interested in knowing what they are doing in the film. So I tell them, ‘This is Top Gun kind of film and you are playing the role of Tom Cruise’. If there are less writers today, the problem lies with the heroes. They do not want to listen to good stories. That’s the reason why Marathi films is a great place to be. Here the script is the boss and actors don’t control the Marathi film industry,” he points out.

Is that because the ‘living up to the image’ hasn’t caught the fancy of Marathi film actors, we ask him. “I go to producers with a story and they ask me, ‘Who is the hero’. They calculate the actor’s market value. The best example I give is that of Sairat which is the biggest hit in the history of Marathi films. The actors of Sairat were not even known. It proves a point that the story is the king, followed by the director who interprets the story,” adds Mahesh.

And is that why during a media interaction Mahesh had said, ‘I hope Bollywood actors do not spoil Marathi films’?
Explaining the statement, he says, “Bollywood actors have a superiority complex because they do Rs 200-300 crore films. Now they want to enter in Marathi industry. Why? Not because of the love of Marathi films but because there is a market and an audience. When they enter the Marathi industry, they will claim that ‘We know what makes money at the box-office’. I hope they do not remake their own trash. It’s great that Priyanka Chopra made a film like Ventilator and not a remake of some Hindi film. There’s a grey area where Marathi filmmakers are also trying to remake South Indian films. But we have got enough writers here who want to do great work and do films that are rooted.”

More from the star cast....
Chandrakant Kulkarni’s Dhyani Mani has been receiving positive response at the box-office. The film is an adaption of a play, which was first staged 25 years ago. It is a psychological thriller about a couple and the mother’s obsession with her son. When asked if he’s made any changes to the script, Chandrakant said, “We have made a few changes in story keeping in mind today’s times. But the subject is still relevant.” To this, Mahesh adds, “That’s the beauty of the subject. No matter how much we progress, the mentality towards women still hasn’t changed. The society always points a finger at the woman. The man is never blamed.”

Ashwini Bhave, who was a big name in the ’90s Marathi cinema, and is making a comeback with the film, added that the meaning of the motherhood hasn’t changed. It still gives a sense of completeness to a woman. “It was fantastic working with such a team. Every actor is in search of such roles that challenge the artist within him or her. When you do such roles, it enhances your talent. The story has been written beautifully. There are so many colours added to each character including mine. She is smart and manipulative but at the same time she is trying to tackle a serious problem in her life,” says the actress.

The author can be followed on Twitter @DebaratiPalitSi

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