Marathi cinema has been changing evidently in the last few years. We are making more and more films every year, the cost of production is going up and business equations are also changing accordingly. Filmmakers have started experimenting with unconventional subjects and actors from other film industries are now looking interested in Marathi films. The one thing that is refusing to change in Marathi cinema is its shyness from action films. Rang Marathi talked to a few celebrities to know as why Marathi filmmakers are still maintaining a safe distance from action movies.
Actor Ganesh Yadav, a known face from Bollywood who appeared in some of the recent Marathi films including Rahul Jadhav’s Vijay Aso and Samit Kakkad’s Aayna Ka Bayna, said, “Making action films is a very challenging task. It involves good stories, passionate directors, considerable budget, aggressive marketing and above all, an action hero. Unfortunately, we lack all these factors in Marathi cinema. Action films do well in other languages because they employ good technicians and spend respectably on them. Bollywood is now spending around hundred crores on film production while we make a lot of noise if our films cost a little over three or four crores. So there’s a big gap to be filled. I think producers should take the risk and make some good Marathi action films. In fact, we all need to work in that direction because there is a huge scope for action films.”
So shall we assume that lack of big budget is stopping us from making action films?
“Money is certainly the primary factor. In Marathi, we don’t have the kind of budgets that are needed to make action films,” said Nikhil Mahajan, the young director who made an impressive debut with Marathi film Pune 52 recently. “One more thing is star value. Marathi cinema has very good actors but it doesn’t have the action stars to convincingly do such roles. A few actors like Aniket Vishwasrao and Santosh Juvekar have that macho look, but they are not getting opportunities to do action films. Producers want to play it very safe by putting money on selected genres like drama and comedy or a film that has some social message,” Nikhil observed.
Director Nitin Kamble, whose three films titled Satya, Coffee, and Well Done Bhalyaa will be releasing this year, voiced a similar opinion: “One of the reasons that action films in Marathi don’t perform at the box office is that they are not presented gracefully. Matter was a good film but it didn’t get too much response. Fakt Lakh Mhanaa did quite well but we can’t call it a complete action film. Another reason is that we don’t have a Bollywood-kind-of action hero in Marathi. Producers too are not interested in risking their money on action films due to uncertain recovery. But this must change now. Producers and directors should start making good action films. People will surely respond positively,” Nitin articulated.
When action movies in Hindi and other south Indian languages are grossing enormous figures at the box office, why the producers in Marathi are so scared of this genre?
“There’s a misconception in Marathi film industry that action films don’t work. But the fact is that a good film always gets the audience irrespective of its genre. Marathi industry is producing good films, but most of them are limited to a couple of genres like comedy and social issues. Sometimes it feels repetitive,” asserted actor Santosh Juvekar, who has done action films like Sanjay Jadhav’s Fakt Ladh Mhanaa and Satish Motling’s Matter. “We should now start exploring other genres like action and thrill. We have heroes and they are ready to undergo all sort of training to do justice to such roles. Filmmakers should keep making action films and they will see people coming to cinema halls. People are watching action films in Hindi, English and other languages; they will watch in Marathi also,” Santosh reasoned.
If actors too are interested and starving to play action roles, then why we don’t have angry, dashing and stylish heroes like Bollywood?
“Bollywood has a big canvass and big stars also. People love to see these heroes venting anger and frustration on their behalf and fighting against the evil. In Marathi, we don’t have such stories. Even if we start making action films, I don’t think the canvass will be that larger. In Marathi, we have very good filmmakers, who prefer making issue-based and content-rich films. Therefore we don’t have hardcore action films,” expressed filmmaker Nagraj Manjule, whose Marathi short film Pistulya won the National Award.
“But there is a market for action films. We should try this genre in Marathi and I hope people will like it. The only thing is that the stories should be rooted in our soil, our culture,” Nagraj suggested. His first Marathi feature film Fandry is a love-story and is ready to hit the screens very soon.
Actor-writer-director Chinmay Mandlekar argued that actions films are indeed made in Marathi. “We make action films, though less in numbers. I have done around a dozen films and most of them had action directors in the unit. Actually, action films are very expensive. Bollywood dedicates six-seven days to a single action sequence. We can’t afford to do this in Marathi films and that’s why we don’t have hardcore action films. If the budget is raised, we will see actions films like Bollywood and South Indian cinema in Marathi also. As far as public response is concerned, people always respond positively if a film has good content and is marketed properly,” explained Chinmay, who also acted in Bollywood films Shanghai and Tere Bin Laden besides a number of Marathi films including Zenda, Moraya, and Vijay Aso.
Cinematographer-filmmaker Sanjay Jadhav, who directed Marathi thrillers titled Fakt Lakh Mhanaa, Checkmate, and Ringa Ringa, had an interesting view on the subject. “Marathi audience’s need for action, thrill and romance is fulfilled by Bollywood movies. They get that stuff in other languages. Therefore they look up to Marathi cinema for some sensible content; films based on good literature or important issues,” he claimed. Sanjay Jadhav is currently busy with the post-production work of his multi-starrer film Duniyadari that releases in July this year.