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|February 7, 2000||
'It is always better to work with friends'
At a juncture when audiences preferred fluffy romances like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Hum Saath-Saath Hain, Marathi director Mahesh Manjrekar decided to debut in Hindi with a grimly violent Vaastav. The film, an unexpected albeit much deserved success, reinforced his reputation as a film-maker. And now, Manjrekar is working on his next Hindi release, Astitva.
How would you describe Astitva?
Astitva is all about a woman's search for her identity in a male-dominated world. It is not a feminist kind of approach. Rather, I have tried hold a mirror to the men in our society. I cannot tell you whether her search gets her the required answers, but I can definitely describe it as a positive film.
You have a rather unusual cast in Tabu and Sachin Khedekar.
I don't choose names, I choose actors. For Astitva, I needed actors who were good and committed and could portray the character's growth over a period of time -- from 21 to 47 years. And both Tabu and Sachin have put in sterling performances.
Why did you decide to make Astitva a bilingual, in Hindi and Marathi?
I have been doing Marathi theatre for the past 15 years. The people there are very hardworking, talented and committed. But the state of Marathi cinema is going from bad to worse. There are a few directors who are trying to change that scenario. Since my roots are also in Marathi cinema, I am also trying to do the same.
Why does Namrata Shirodkar feature in most of your films?
She is basically a very good human being and a good actress as well. She has done Astitva for a pittance. The same goes for most other artistes in the film. Whenever there is a role that suits her, I'd like her to be there in my film. It is always better to work with friends.
Astitva, like Vaastav and Nidaan, has a hard-hitting subject. Would you like to make a film on a lighter topic?
Actually, two of my next films are in a lighter vein. Kurukshetra, with Sanjay Dutt, is a light film. Hopefully, it should be released in May. I'm directing a film for Jackie Shroff as well, he is producing it. The film is called Jis Desh Main Ganga Rehta Hai and stars Govinda and Sonali Bendre. Govinda, of course, is Ganga. Two more films are still in the planning stage. So I am making films on a variety of subjects.
Mahesh Manjrekar spoke to Sukanya Verma.
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