Marathi cinema is going through an interesting phase. And Sachin Kundalkar is part of it. The Pune-born director, who made three feature films in his mother tongue is thrilled about entering Bollywood. But he still feels the Hindi film industry isn’t the ultimate place to be. The National Award-winning filmmaker’s forthcoming debut Hindi movie Aiyyaa, starring Rani Mukherji and South Indian actor Prithviraj, actually goes back to 2009 when Anurag Kashyap saw Sachin’s Marathi feature Gandh. They started working on the script a year later. Sachin talks about his love for cinema, upcoming film and political views.
When it comes to filmmaking, who do you look up to in Bollywood?
I like the kind of work my contemporaries such as Zoya (Akhtar), Anurag (Kashyap) and Dibakar (Banerjee) are doing. I’d love to do something in a similar vein.
Anurag is co-producing your film too. How was the experience of working with him?
Anurag is a dream producer! He’s very director-friendly. Once he trusts your vision, he helps the film in the best possible way. The endeavour would have been impossible without him. Despite being a director, he never interfered. He never even visited the sets.
What’s the best and the most challenging part about being a Bollywood director?
It’s a mix of both worlds because Bollywood allows you to work with some of the finest actors in the country. Your film gets a nationwide spread — something that’s difficult to achieve with regional cinema — and sometimes it even crosses the international milieu. On the downside, you’re constantly under pressure to deliver.
Describe your journey.
As a filmmaker, everybody’s journey is different. Besides, Bollywood isn’t exactly a newcomer’s territory. It’s way too cruel to invite someone without a definite backing. Having said that, I won’t do a Hindi film just for the sake of it. Marathi cinema is far richer when it comes to basics like storytelling. I made Aiyaa keeping in mind the
In what way did your FTII background lend itself to your vision?
Not much, really. I walked out of FTII in the first year though I had enrolled for three years. The place just didn’t suit me. NFAI, on the other hand, enriched me thanks to their huge movie collection. I have been a member since my youth.
Was it difficult to convince Rani to do Aiyyaa?
In one way, yes, because she’s such a perfectionist! And given her past experience and the command she has in front of the camera, you’re compelled to up your level. I’m just glad she agreed to do the film.
How was the experience working with her?
I have always been a huge fan of hers. She has this intense persona and is so energetic on the sets. I wish I had five per cent of that kind of energy. Also, she wasn’t just the first choice for my film but also the only choice. Rani was a constant companion while the film was being written too. I think she should write a script in the near future.
You’ve shot a major part of the film in Pune. Why so?
The film follows the story of a Maharashtrian middle-class Brahmin girl and I couldn’t think of any other location. We wanted to create an environment that went with the plot. Secondly, it’s my hometown so I know it like the back of my hand.
Your film deals with the West-South cultural clash. What’s your personal opinion on regional identity?
I’m happy being a Maharashtrian in Mumbai — a city that has managed to mélange possibly everybody in.
I love my language, my literature, cinema and my roots. I’m saying this not just for a quote but I truly feel that way. In other words, I feel like a complete Indian here. No other city can make me feel as Indian as Mumbai does.
Can we expect a more politically-grave film from you in the future?
Of course. But I won’t compromise on creativity to deliver a political punch. I’m not a man who would shout at the top of his voice to make a point. I’d rather make a film that will speak for itself.