‘Or as a result of I get a s**tload of cash.’
IMAGE: Vikram Gokhale, Jitendra Joshi, Saniya Bhandare, Neena Kulkarni and Sanjay Mone in Nikhil Mahajan’s Godavari.
He was floating on air, actually, when the National Awards have been introduced. As quickly as his flight from Nagpur landed in Mumbai, his cell phone stirred to life. Preoccupied with getting off, he did not take any of the calls.
But his govt producer, Swapnil Bhangale, who was travelling with him, monitoring the awards, noticed the information on YouTube and knowledgeable Nikhil Mahajan on the airport that he had bagged the Swarna Kamal: The Best Direction for Godavari.
Humbled by the love that has been coming his method since, Nikhil tells Rediff.com Senior Contributor Roshmila Bhattacharya, “My mother and father are over the moon. Detached from the movie business, they do not perceive the pressures of present enterprise, and seeing the ups and down in my profession, they have been understandably nervous. I’m joyful I used to be capable of give them this massive second.”
Having gained the Filmfare Award for Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor (Critics), have been you anticipating the nationwide honour for Godavari?
No, the Filmfare Awards have been for Marathi movies solely whereas the National Awards are throughout all cinemas and languages making them the largest awards within the nation.
I’m stuffed with gratitude.
My mother and father are over the moon; they’ve been flooded with calls since they have been introduced.
Detached from the movie business, they do not perceive the pressures of present enterprise, and seeing the ups and down in my profession, they have been understandably nervous.
So this award is a validation in a method.
I’m joyful I used to be capable of give them this massive second.
IMAGE: Director Nikhil Mahajan with Vikram Gokhale on the units of Godavari. Photograph: Kind courtesy Nikhil Mahajan/Instagram
Did Godavari develop out of private expertise?
Then, we misplaced Nishi sir (actor-film-maker Nishikant Kamat) on August 17, 2020, and Jeetu, who was very near him, was heartbroken.
We have been all shaken by Nishi sir’s premature demise and Jeetu and I made a decision to make this movie as a tribute to a film-maker we admired.
We had the primary screening for his collaborators and buddies relatively than our personal households on his first loss of life anniversary.
Though Godavari has nothing to do with him apart from Jeetu’s character being named Nishikant, we felt his presence at that screening.
Even in the course of the capturing — we shot the movie in 16 days as a result of we had no cash — we felt him guiding and blessing us.
Nishi sir was my function mannequin whose Mumbai Meri Jaan I had seen once I was not even an aspiring film-maker.
So profitable the Swarna Kamal appears like a lovely completion of a circle.
Two film-makers, intrinsically related by a movie; it is a surreal feeling that solely I can expertise with such depth.
How did the son of two academicians, who was finding out engineering, turn into a film-maker?
I come from a Maharashtrian household and grew up in Aurangabad with no reference to movies and even the humanities.
My uncle had a video library and I watched a lot of movies.
When the Internet increase began, many pirated movies have been circulated in our hostel and that is how I received to observe a lot of worldwide cinema, Hollywood and even obscure Korean movies which piqued my curiosity.
But it was Ashu (film-maker Ashutosh Gowariker) sir’s 2004 movie Swades, which I watched once I was in my second 12 months of engineering, that sparked this compelling want to inform tales of my very own within the audio-visual format.
Nishi sir’s Mumbai Meri Jaan 4 years later fortified this curiosity and I started to noticeably consider making movies.
I’ve motive to be grateful to our grandparents and fogeys due to whom I had the posh of claiming I didn’t wish to be an engineer.
I had the liberty to decide on what I needed to do figuring out my mother and father have been there to help me within the early years of battle.
It would have been unattainable for my father to be a poet even when he have been artistically inclined, even much less so for the era earlier than him, who having simply come into an impartial nation, have been struggling to outlive.
When you might be centered on how one can put meals on the desk, you possibly can’t be a free thinker.
For our mother and father’ era, survival was not the issue, however they needed to transcend making ends meet, purchase sure comforts, which made monetary safety necessary.
IMAGE: Girish Kulkarni and Sai Tamhankar in Pune 52.
After a documentary in 2011, Half A Billion Dreams, your first characteristic movie, which was launched two years later, was Pune-52.
When we speak of interval movies, we often discuss with big-budget historicals and biopics however on condition that Pune-52 is a neo-noir thriller set in 1992, it should have had its personal challenges?
Yes, it was a troublesome movie to make as a result of I had not assisted anyone.
I went to movie college in Sydney, returned and wrote this script set within the ’90s and dived straight in.
What’s the importance of 1992?
That was the 12 months when monetary reforms have been launched by the ruling Congress authorities that gave start to the Indian center class as we all know it at the moment.
Before that, our aspirations have been very completely different, however submit 1992, the market opened up and we needed to personal materialistic issues.
A color TV was abruptly simply obtainable.
It’s an attention-grabbing section in our historical past, however we do not speak about it a lot, maybe as a result of it is more moderen.
Pune-52 has a detective, a femme fatale and an indignant spouse, all of the elements of a basic noir thriller, one thing we had not seen in Marathi movies earlier than this.
IMAGE: Siddharth Menon and Nehha Pendse in June.
June, a more moderen movie which you’ve written, is a coming-of-age drama of two troubled souls who heal one another. Is it semi-autobiographical?
Not actually, despite the fact that we shot it within the colony the place I grew up in and is once more, like Godavari, rooted within the center class.
It is a story of my observations of individuals I’ve seen rising up.
Since I belong to that world, a lot of my private experiences have gone into June, however they didn’t occur to me per se.
Also, it is set in Aurangabad.
Most Marathi movies are both set in city cities like Mumbai or Pune or in distant rural areas and a few in picturesque Konkan.
But Maharashtra is so huge and numerous, with completely different sub-cultures, and even variations in the best way the language is spoken.
With June, I travelled to locations we had not seen on display screen earlier than, telling tales rooted in that tradition.
I began with Aurangabad as a result of it is the place I do know greatest.
And Godavari took you to Nashik…
Yes, and with my upcoming movie Raavsaheb, I might be travelling to Chandrapur which is referred to as ‘Black Gold City’ due to its coal seams.
It’s simply 5 hours from Mumbai, however you will not imagine it is in Maharashtra.
The concept is to interrupt new floor, discover completely different areas, sub-cultures and genres.
IMAGE: Amruta Khanvilkar and Shreyas Talpade in Baji.
When we consider a superhero vigilante movie, we go straight to Hollywood, then Bollywood. But in 2015, you made Baji, with Shreyas Talpade in the primary function taking it upon himself to guard the widespread man from oppression and injustice.
Baji was a big problem as a result of nobody had considered doing something like this again then in Marathi cinema.
Today, once you watch it, it is within the Pushpa zone, an over-the-top, massy entertainer.
In 2015, it was, like all my movies, a little forward of its time.
It was a business failure, however none of us connected to the movie regretted making it.
We had genuinely tried to make one thing completely different and opened up the potential of one thing like this being tried in Marathi cinema, so we did our job.
It’s secure to make a love story or a household drama, however a style like Baji is a dangerous proposition.
So was Betaal, a 2020 Netflix sequence set in a distant village, revolving round a curse, an undead officer of the East India Company and his battalion of zombie troopers.
Betaal was not my mind baby, I simply directed half of it, so I am unable to take credit score for it.
It was conceptualised, written and directed by Patrick Graham, who was the showrunner of the sequence.
I used to be to direct a sci-fi horror movie for Phantom Studios, to be co-produced by Blumhouse Television and Ivanhoe Pictures.
That movie did not occur, however once they wanted a second director for Betaal, which was collectively produced by Red Chillies Entertainment, Blumhouse Television and SK Global Entertainment, they approached me.
There was a sure consolation stage.
Also, I had been working with the identical style.
And once I met Patrick, we appreciated one another immediately as a result of we’re each horror nerds.
IMAGE: Jitendra Joshi in Godavari.
As I discussed, Raavsaheb, a Marathi thriller, which ought to take off hopefully this 12 months.
There’s additionally a Hindi movie within the pipeline, and an attention-grabbing sequence.
These tasks will maintain me busy for the following couple of years.
I’m not concerned with Hollywood movies, however I wish to work in different Indian languages, moreover Marathi and Hindi movies.
A Malayalam movie perhaps, since they’ve phenomenal expertise there.
And a massy Tamil movie, who would not need that!
I’ve determined I cannot direct greater than 12 movies in my lifetime.
I’ve completed 4, I’ve simply eight left so I’ve to be very positive of what I wish to do.
Why solely 12 movies?
Film-making is a soul-sapping career and I do not suppose I’ve greater than 10-12 movies in me.
It will not excite me to do the identical factor repeatedly.
Also, it takes me a very long time to make a movie.
Pune-52 got here in 2012, Baji in 2015, Godavari in 2021.
I’ve been engaged on Raavsaheb for two-and-a-half years and it will not be launched earlier than 2024-2025.
IMAGE: Director Nikhil Mahajan with Vikram Gokhale and Jitendra Joshi on the units of Godavari. Photograph: Kind courtesy Nikhil Mahajan/Instagram
What if one thing actually thrilling got here up after these dozen movies? You nonetheless would not wish to direct it?
Never say by no means, however I do not suppose I might.
Quentin Tarantino (American actor, author, producer and director) has additionally stated he won’t make greater than 10 movies.
He’s on his final movie and he is on the peak of his profession.
It’s okay for a film-maker to fail as a result of nobody units out to intentionally make a dangerous movie.
But it’s important to be enthusiastic about sitting along with your writers and actors, your composers and different technicians, day by day, day after day, about working 20 hours a day.
I’m afraid of shedding my curiosity of the medium.
When you’re employed lengthy sufficient, after a level, issues can turn into mechanical and day by day feels the identical.
I do not wish to make a movie for the heck of constructing it.
Or as a result of I get a s**tload of cash.
Not even as a result of a top-ranking actor needs to work with me.
I like movies an excessive amount of for that.
I might relatively do one thing else.
I may write a e book.
Run a restaurant.
Anything that feeds my curiosity.
When you cease being curious, there isn’t any level in residing.