With the changing times, Marathi cinema is witnessing a breed of new filmmakers, who are exploring innovative styles of story-telling. But most of the filmmakers are still sticking to the age-old formulas. It seems that they are unaware of the fact as people of which age-group form the larger section of today’s audience. When a lot of films in other languages are focused on the youth, there is a huge shortage of Marathi films for the Youngistan. Rang Marathi tried to know the reasons behind this from some of the industry people.
Vibhawari Deshpande, the writer, theatre artist and actor, who appeared in popular films like Harishchandrachi Factory, Natarang, Balgandharva, Deool and Tuhya Dharma Koncha, said: “Sometimes I too think as why we don’t have youth-centric films in Marathi despite having a huge audience in that class. But it must be having a genuine reason. First, Maharashtra has a scattered audience whereas the audience is very focused in the south. Then, we lack Bollywood kind of fan-following in Marathi. Moreover, there is very poor acceptance of new concepts and experiments in Marathi films. So producers hesitate to put money into such ventures. But we can’t ignore the fact that there is a huge scope for youth-centric films in Marathi. We have enough material in the form of literature and plays for such films. It will be good to see more and more films focusing on the youth audience,” she stated.
Looking at the other film industries in India, it can be said that Bollywood and South Indian filmmakers understand the potential of youth-centric films. They continue to make films for youth and the audience responds to such films equally well. So, why this can’t happen in Marathi?
Vishal Inamdar, director of recently released Marathi film Sanshay Kallol, observed, “Like every other language, Marathi also has its own and different identity. Even if we start following other film industries, we can’t make a Rs 40 Crore film because the market is smaller and a Marathi film can’t recover that much amount. The point is Marathi cinema shall not lose its identity. Now Bollywood has also started appreciating the content of Marathi films. And, I personally feel, there is only a good or a bad film. There is no scope for more categories like a youth film. If a film is good, audiences of all age groups enjoy the film. Kaaksparsh and BP are the latest examples,” Vishal cited.
If there will be no difference between films and TV serials, why should people pay to watch such content in cinema halls. If filmmakers can’t give something fresh and interesting, they should not cry when the audiences distance themselves from their films.
Vivek Kajaria, producer at Holy Basil Productions, said, “Marathi films have a very confined area of business. Moreover, Marathi youth likes to watch Hindi movies. We have a very limited audience from this section. Therefore, practically, it is not possible to make films for this small-size audience. In-state audience is very important for any regional cinema. Though, things are changing since last couple of years. People have started coming to cinema halls to watch Marathi films. And if this trend continues, the number of films for youth will also rise,” Vivek expressed. Holy Basil Productions, in association with Navalakha Arts, has produced forthcoming Marathi film Fandry and are the presenters of the much-acclaimed Anumati.
Most of the Marathi filmmakers are still making either mindless comedies or very serious and emotional stuff. Love-stories, romance, action and thrill, the ingredients that youth loves to watch, are missing from the Marathi cinema.
Filmmaker Satish Motling, who made Agarbam and Matter, had a very candid observation on the topic. “Yes, we don’t have enough films for youth. Marathi films are usually made around the traditional Marathi Maanus. But today’s youth like to watch films that have pace, action, thrill and style. We are not creating such content and therefore Marathi youth is getting it from other languages. It takes a lot of courage to make such films. Marathi directors are too scared to work in these genres, and they always cite low budgets as an excuse. But the audience has nothing to do with your budgets,” Satish Motling said.
Actor Sushant Shelar had a pretty interesting view on the topic. He said, “Who says we don’t have youth-centric films? Matter was for youth. We have films for youth but we don’t have audience. Our youth loves to watch Bollywood stars only. They don’t have respect for Marathi stars because we are easily available. If a Marathi actor comes across a young couple and the girl looks at him, her boyfriend doesn’t like this. But if Salman Khan comes, the same guy will allow his girlfriend to kiss Salman. This mentality of the Marathi audience should change. Other regional cinema is rich because people in other states are committed to films in their languages. They are mad about their stars and therefore go to the extent of building their temples also. If Marathi youth start giving more response, more films will be made for them,” Sushant commented.