Umesh Kulkarni: Trying to reach out to non-Marathi audience
From releasing his Marathi movies with subtitles to promoting them via non-vernacular mediums -- National Award winning filmmaker Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni, who is awaiting the release of his new project "Highway" -- is making an effort "to reach out to non-Marathi" audiences and believes that platforms should be built to promote regional cinema across India.
"We are trying to reach out to a non-Marathi audience. There should be some kind of platform to promote these films. For Marathi cinema, every Friday there are two-three films releasing but at the same time there are several jewels which are not able to shine. This has to change. The government needs to take it forward. At least 10 regional films should be shown in every city," Kulkarni told IANS.
The director of award-winning Marathi films such as "Valu", "Vihir" and "Deeol" struggles to fathom why regional films are unable to reach "newer audiences".
"I'm struggling with the idea of why regional films are not able to reach newer audiences. I make it a point to release my films with subtitles. This time, I am trying to promote our film via non-vernacular avenues. We can't afford to compete with the kind of budget the Hindi films have. We can't reach out to the people otherwise," he added.
An alumnus of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, Kulkari also says that the reach of Marathi cinema will improve if the films are released in the major cities of India.
"Films should be releasing in the major cities like Delhi, Kolkata and others. That will also eventually change the way we look at regional films. There are lots of good things in each language. Also, the number of film festivals, especially Indian film festivals, have to increase," he added.
The unprecedented success of S.S. Rajamouli's magnum opus "Baahubali - The Beginning, which became the fastest Indian film to enter the Rs.100 crore club, is a testament to the fact that regional cinema indeed has a potential to make an indelible impact on the country's film fraternity.
Released in four languages -- Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi -- simultaneously, the film has surprisingly performed extremely well in all the languages.
In context of Marathi cinema, per se, the involvement of big names from Bollywood has also helped in spreading awareness of the industry among the consumers of Hindi cinema, says Kulkarni.
"My film 'Valu (The Wild Bull)' was distributed by Subhash Ghai's Mukta Arts, whereas 'Vihir (The Well)' was produced by megastar Amitabh Bachchan's AB Corp Limited. So, thanks to these names, my films got good promotion and reached more people," he said.
The involvement of B-town actors like Akshay Kumar -- whose production house Grazing Goat Pictures announced a Marathi film in 2016 -- Riteish Deshmukh and Manoj Bajpayee in regional cinema is helping the industry grow, says Kulkarni.
"It is easier when the Hindi film actors come and talk about these films. But for them to come and watch the films is another thing altogether. They talk a lot about the films, and it will help Marathi films to grow," he added.
Kulkarni's "Highway", not to be confused with the similarly-titled Hindi movie, is releasing on July 24.