Nitish Bharadwaj needs no introduction to the people of this country. For Indians, he is the face of Lord Krishna. After passing out as a veterinary surgeon, Bharadwaj had started his acting career with Marathi films. Soon, the actor, in his early twenties at that time, got opportunity to play the most-glamorous and favorite character from Mahabharata in B R Chopra’s epic tele-show during late 80s, and became the most popular face on Indian television. Later he played other mythological roles also and directed a few TV serials. This was followed by a short stint in politics too. Bharadwaj is now returning to cinema; this time by donning the director’s hat for a Marathi film.
In an exclusive chat with Rang Marathi, Nitish Bharadwaj speaks on his directorial debut film Pitruroon, his respect for Marathi language, and he being an object of worship.
You have a pan-India identity, so you could have easily chosen a Hindi film for your directorial debut. Then why a Marathi film?
The first thing is that Marathi is my mother-tongue, so I’m very comfortable with this language.
There was a phase in Marathi cinema when only comedies were being made and filmmakers were doing only mediocre things. But the scene has changed now. Today producers and directors are working on different and interesting subjects and audiences too are responding to it very positively.
The third thing is the film’s subject. Hindi films are on a very different track these days. While the Marathi audience is always in search of something sensible. Pitruroon is a quality and family-oriented film, and I found Marathi audience to be better audience for such kind of content.
Pitruroon is based on Ms Sudha Murthy’s Kannada novel. What was the factor that triggered a thought in you that this could be made into a good film?
It’s originality! While reading the novel, I found that the story has not been told in films so far. Normally, when we watch a film, we find it, or a part of it, similar to some other work. But this was not the case with this novel. Each and every part of it was unique and fresh.
Do you want to convey any message through this film?
No, Pitruroon has no social message. It’s a completely commercial film with a subject that anybody can relate to. The story is about a man, whose father has expired sometime back. Suddenly some unexpected events start to happen that tell him about an unfulfilled wish of his father. The son then struggles hard to fulfill that wish. We all have parents and if we come to know about their any such wish, we will be very happy to fulfill it. Therefore I say anybody can relate to this story.
How IME Motion Pictures decided to produce the film?
Actually, I didn’t have to make much effort to find a producer. I read the novel and developed the screenplay for Pitruroon. Then one day I met Shrirang Godbole in a party. We are very good friends since a long time. That evening he casually asked if I had any idea in mind for a film. I narrated the screenplay and he saw a huge potential in it. I think when something is destined to happen, everything starts falling in place. I directing a Marathi film, Bollywood actress Tanuja acting in it,… Mujhe lagtaa hai ye vidhi ka vidhaan hai! It was all destined to happen this way!
What’s the reason for casting Tanuja in a Marathi film?
There are a lot of good actresses in Marathi and some of them were suitable for this role, but they all are acting regularly in Hindi or Marathi TV serials or plays. I wanted an unpredictable performance for this role. Tanuja is not involved with Marathi films or daily soaps or theatre, therefore the Marathi audience doesn’t know as how she will act in Pitruroon. We wanted this kind of surprise element with the actress for this role.
How was the experience of working with Sachin Khedekar?
It was a very good experience. He is a wonderful actor. While reading the novel, the first name that had cropped up in my mind for this role was that of Sachin Khedekar. He is an apt actor for this role. I enjoyed so much working with him. He works with the director’s vision. He is a very professional and committed man. The same is with Tanuja Ji.
Do you think Marathi cinema is growing as an industry?
As I said earlier, Marathi filmmakers are trying newer and different kind of subjects. We are witnessing this since last few years. And audiences too are accepting this new content. It’s a very good sign for the industry. The passion and participation of audience is must if Marathi cinema needs to grow like Telugu and Tamil film industry in terms of size. I can see this happening gradually. Sachin Khedekar today has become a bankable star. This will steadily bring in the star system and Marathi films will go high-budget. Cinema grows like this only. And I want audience to patronize the growth of Marathi cinema.
Many films are first sent to the festivals and are released for the audience a year later. Isn’t it the audience’s right to first see the film once it’s made?
I will not comment on this. Every producer or director has his or her own approach towards marketing and distribution of film. And there are some festivals, which prefer only unreleased films.
Will you continue to make Marathi films?
I’m developing one more story. It’s of a totally different genre. I will start working on it from January and most probably make it in Marathi.
Any plans for the small screen?
No. I would not like to work for television, which is today confined to daily soaps only. I’m trained in cinema. I can’t handle the pressure of churning out daily soaps one after another. The quality of content suffers badly in such kind of work.
Do you still meet such people, who continue to see a divine soul in you?
Yes! People still identify me as Lord Krishna. And I feel happy that my greatest performance as an actor has so much impact even after 25 years. I respect it.