Renuka Shahane gets rolling!

After making her directorial debut with Rita in 2009, the actress-turned-director is now keen on foraying into Bollywood alongside independent cinema. Her debut script is one of the eight stories to be shortlisted by Sundance this year. Juggling motherhood with her passion for writing and directing, Renuka tells CS that she hopes to stay behind the camera.

Renuka Shahane
Who: Renuka Shahane
What: Talking about her foray into direction 
PIC/ Kiran Bhalerao

Lights, camera, AD!
Back in 1988, while doing my Masters in clinical psychology, I was working as an assistant director for a television show. At that time, I was keen on becoming a director someday. However when I took a break for my PhD, the TV serial Circus came my way and I couldn’t say no to it. One thing led to another and my passion for direction took a backseat. During Hum Aapke Hain Koun, I told Soorajji (Barjatya) that I’d love to go to FTII and take some classes in direction, but he advised me to learn on the job.

A long hiatus?
Not at all, actually. Yes, I took a semi-retirement because I wanted to be close to my kids — Shouryaman (10) and Satyendra (8). In an ideal world, I’d be having 10 hands and 48 hours a day to keep up with them! Jokes apart, I didn’t want to miss their first word or steps while they were growing up. So it was a personal choice to cut down on work.

Directorial decision
It was only after getting married, I could sit down and write the kind of stories I want to share. That eventually led to my Marathi film Rita, which marked my directorial debut. When I was working on it, there were people who were warning the producers against touching my script. They feared it would result in financial losses but it didn’t. When we took the film to the Munich film festival, even audiences there liked it.

Bye, bye TV
I’ve hosted some Marathi reality shows but that’s it. Compared to my earlier days, there has been a sea change in television now. I don’t really fit in anywhere but I’m not unhappy about the way things are. I’m an actress and that part of me will never die. It just needs a good character to wake up to and I’ll be back in front of the camera. In the meantime, I’d love to pursue direction.

Cinematic influences
Shaji Karun, Girish Kasaravalli and Aparna Sen are my favourites. But my passion for films stems from those who drew me towards filmmaking with their timeless classics: Ritwik Ghatak, Guru Dutt, Raj Kapoor, Orson Welles and Stanley Kubrick.

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