For Mahesh Manjrekar, friendship occupies a special status in his life. His close friend Sachin Khedekar and he not only started their careers together, the actor also plays the lead role in the filmmaker’s forthcoming Marathi project.
In fact, it was Khedekar’s idea to make this film in the first place. Speaking of their 25-year-old friendship, Manjrekar nostalgically says, “When we started out in theatre, we faced difficult days. Finding work was next to impossible since we both didn’t have any godfather in the industry. He turned to TV and I continued doing plays.”
‘Salman’s a true friend’
Speaking about his other 4 am friends from the industry, the director refers to Salman Khan and Sanjay Gupta rather fondly.
Mahesh calls Salman a ‘true friend’ and also the most misunderstood person by the media. “He’s one of those guys who will come to your rescue no matter what. In this industry, he redefines the concept of friendship. I feel lucky,” he says.
A tale of two Sanjays
Director Sanjay Gupta is another close friend. “Even if he calls me in the middle of the night to do a film, I won’t say no.” But his tone changes when former buddy Sanjay Dutt’s name is mentioned. “We haven’t spoken to each other in more than two years now,” he gravely adds.
Cause for celebration
Elaborating on his forthcoming film where Khedekar plays lead, Manjrekar refers to it as ‘the best film of my life till date’. According to him, this film completes the trilogy, with Astitva and Me Shivajiraje Bhosale Boltoy being the first two installations (both featured Khedekar).
Incidentally, the film is due to release tomorrow, with today marking the centenary of Indian cinema (Dada Saheb Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra released this day, exactly 100 years ago).
Speaking about the choice of his release date, Mahesh says, “It was pre-planned, yes. But it’s also a tribute to experiments that are taking place in the Marathi film industry. As of now, regional cinema is where originality lies.”
On the other hand, he’s vocally critical of Bollywood. He blames the creative vacuum on self-imposed regression. “Earlier, Hindi filmmakers used to look at the West for ‘inspiration’ and steal blindly. Nowadays, they are busy picking up scripts from South India. In some cases, it’s a remake of a remake! How worse can it get?”