Marathi cinema is unquestionably going through its best phase ever. The industry is churning out world-class films and is also witnessing emergence of new breed of filmmakers, who are determined to make content-driven films. Recently, Nagraj Manjule, with his Fandry, placed himself on the list of such filmmakers. Nilesh Navalakha and Vivek Kajaria, who produced Fandry, are now coming up with yet another impressive creation titled Chaurya and a promising talent named Sameer Asha Patil.
Chaurya is among the best 20 films (12 fiction and eight non-fiction), recommended by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) at the latest Film Bazaar in Goa. In an exclusive chat with Rang Marathi, writer-director Sameer Asha Patil speaks about his debut feature film Chaurya, the struggle behind it and why he is not nervous at this point of time.
From an idea to a film; how it all happened?
I was working as an assistant director for ad films. And when I wanted to make a film, I had this crazy idea of Chaurya. I wrote the script and approached a number of producers but none of them responded. They were sure that the story won’t work in Marathi.
But we as a team had full faith in the story and wanted to the film. So we ourselves collected funds and completed its first schedule at Chambal in Rajasthan. But when we returned from Rajasthan, we realized our funds had dried up. We had no money to move further. We were back at square one and again started meeting people and showed them the footage, but still nobody was interested.
How Navalakha Arts and Holy Basil Production (NAHB) came in the picture?
I met Nilesh Navalakha and discussed the concept with him. He saw rushes of the first schedule and heard the complete script. He just loved it, and gave his nod to produce Chaurya. While working with NAHB, we realized as what the backing of a good producer can do to a good film. We then completed our second schedule and the film is in its post-production stage. During this exercise, we also learned that very few people have the quality to recognize and respect different and innovative works.
Nilesh Navalakha is a very creative producer. He immerses himself in the project and shares interesting suggestions and ideas, which sometimes even we can’t think of.
What is Chaurya about?
We have a place called Shani Shingnapur in Maharashtra. All the houses there are without doors and still there has never been the threat of theft or loot. This is what our tradition and values were. But today, the first thing we think about is our security. We have to install CCTV cameras and other gadgets to protect our places. This questions our claims of having developed as a society.
One day, I read in a newspaper that a person was murdered over a petty dispute for only 30 rupees. I was surprised and shocked. How can someone be killed for such a small amount? There are scams worth lakhs and crores of rupees everywhere. Even religious places have become the centres of corruption and black money transactions in the name of donations, but no one cares about it and nobody dares to raid such places…. I found these things appealing enough to tell a story.
From the first promo, we guess the film has guns, action and some conspiracy, which is not common in Marathi films. Wasn’t it a risk to work on this subject?
Commercially, every film is a risk. But the audience always responds positively to something that is creatively different and better. Marathi audience is very sensible and I’m confident they will love to watch a genuine story, which is rooted in the soil and is told in a different style. Plus, Chaurya is very entertaining with its thrilling story, interesting characters and rusty dialogues, which are normally not seen in Marathi films.
Where did the shooting take place?
We shot at Chambal in Rajasthan and at different places in Nashik, including Shani Shingnapur.
Do you feel any pressure after the overwhelming response to Fandry?
To be very true, I feel very relaxed to see the success Fandry got. When I first saw Fandry, I was surprised to see such an abrupt and realistic film. Now, I’m very relaxed and confident because Fandry’s success has proved that the audience is ready for such exceptional films. Both the films are different in terms of genre and structure; but since people have loved Fandry, I’m sure they will love Chaurya also.
Do you think you are in the Marathi film industry at the right time?
Definitely! I think it started with films like Shwaas and Dombivli Fast. Later, filmmakers like Umesh Kulkarni and Mangesh Hadawale took it to the international stage and introduced us to the world cinema. Marathi films have appeared prominently in the National Awards in the last three-four years. Today we know if we make good films, we can go to the Oscars also. Such conditions motivate new filmmakers as well as the audiences also.
This is certainly a good time when I have platforms available for interacting with other like-minded and passionate filmmakers. And we will see what contribution we can make to the industry.
What's the release date?
We have not finalized the release date yet. First we will be taking Chaurya to film festivals in home and abroad. Later on, Nilesh Navalakha and Vivek Kajaria will decide upon its release.
What’s next in the pipeline?
I’ve a few scripts. I work on only those stories, which stay with me for a longer period. And when I complete the script, I become very impatient…. I will start pitching the stories probably after everything related to Chaurya is done.