Bollywood thespians, Nana Patekar and Mahesh Manjrekar recently visited Subhash Ghai’s film institute, Whistling Woods, for an interaction with students regarding the art and technique of film making. Nana and Mahesh had recently joined forces to create the cinematic marvel, Natsamrat.
Mahesh, what is the motivation for coming to an interaction as such?
These students sitting here are the future, which in turns means that they are also my competition. And, I do like to have an edge over my competition.
Mahesh, since you both have worked in regional as well as Hindi cinema, what difference do you observe between these?
The key difference between both kinds of cinema is the kind of content they do. The film industries of Maharashtra and Bengal are blessed with very rich literature. This literature helps cinema and enables people to make sound movies, and as long as you have good script you can fight anything. I recently went to Kolkata, and a lot of people there told me that ‘humari movies chalti nahin hai’, and I said that Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak must be turning in their graves; you guys have such rich culture! Why must you recycle and remake cinema from south, when you have such a rich culture and literature to depend on. Marathi cinema has just realized this, it is not that we have not done bad movies, but we are now changing. I always maintain that any regional industry will become big when you convince people that cinema has no language. An actor or a big name can only drive the movie up to a certain point, in the end, content matters. Today there are big projects being made where you put in two songs, few action scenes and that is it! I have worked on projects like that, but for my kitchen needs. We are currently in a golden zone and have audience who is intelligent and does not accept trashy cinema.
Nana, what change do you see in the industry today?
I have done movies like Natsamrat, and I have also done movies like Welcome. As an actor, you cannot be choosy, you have to do whatever comes to you. Natsamrat will not pay as much as a Welcome does. However, I did not do Welcome just for money, it was to see if I can pull off movies in that genre. You have to keep your brains and common sense away when you are doing films like these. Once a movie like this releases I go and hide so people don’t come to me and tell me that we went to see this movie because of you and wasted time and money. I don’t have to do movies for money like Mahesh because I don’t have that big a kitchen. He has a kitchen where tons of people eat choicest meals every day and stay late because this man is a ‘nisachar’ (people who are awake at night). I am an actor, I follow a set routine, and this man is more of a director. I often tell him that you have let go of yourself and you are such a nice actor! If I were ever to direct I will show how well can he act, because he has it in himself. What is sad that people continue to do hamming because they are paid well for it!
During the release of Natsamrat you guys said that you would want to make Natsamrat in Hindi, are the plans still on?
Nana: NO! Mahesh said that he would want to. I don’t have the bandwidth to go through that kind of struggle again, he takes away a lot from you and is very taxing. I am not up for doing it again, you must ask Mahesh!
Mahesh: After doing it in Marathi and seeing Nana play the character of Natsamrat, I doubt anyone can do it. I mean who you think can play this complex character in Hindi, Amitabh Bachchan? Let us be frank Amitabh Bachchan does not impress me anymore!