Buoyed by the honours bagged by the Marathi film ‘Godavari’ at the 52nd International Film Festival of India (IFFI), co-producer and lead actor Jitendra Joshi, who got the Silver Peacock for Best Actor, and director Nikhil Mahajan are already working on their next production ‘Raavsaheb’, produced by Nehha Pendse Bayas and Akshay Bardapurkar.
Mahajan won the IFFI Special Jury Prize for Direction, thereby making ‘Godavari’ the first Marathi film to secure two awards at a leading international film festival
Also on Joshi’s schedule are Vaibhav Khisti’s ‘Thoda Tuza, Thoda Maza’ and ‘Night Duty’ by one of Mahajan’s assistants, Rohit Satpute. Both films, according to Mahajan, are headed for the floors soon and will be ready for an early 2023 release.
Co-produced by Jitendra Joshi, Mitali Joshi, Pavan Malu and Nikhil Mahajan under the Blue Drop Films banner, ‘Godavari’ tells the story of a family living on the banks of the holy river in Nashik. Its other stars playing the lead roles are Neena Kulkarni and Vikram Gokhale.
Joshi and Mahajan spoke with IANS about their film’s big win, the battles they fought to put it together, and the future prospects of Marathi cinema.
Talking about what the Silver Peacock means to him personally, Joshi said: “This comes with a huge responsibility of working even harder and bringing the best stories that we can for the audience both as a producer and as an actor. The credit goes to the entire team and the experience at IFFI has been a memorable one for us.”
Sharing Joshi’s sense of elation, Mahajan said: “This film has been close to my heart since this comes with a reason and I am grateful that my vision has been appreciated. To win an international award for a Marathi film feels like a victory for our industry in these trying times. Regional content has become very important today, especially in the Marathi language, which is getting its due credit.”
The ‘Godavari’ team, Joshi said, was up against several challenges. “The biggest battle our crew won was completing the film in 16 days with senior actors on the sets, despite the first wave of Covid. Maintaining the health of the cast and crew was crucial and we went through it without anyone getting any infection.”
Joshi continued: “There was a little accident on the second day of the shoot. Our director of photography slipped and fractured his tail bone. It became difficult after that. There was a struggle we faced every day. Everyone went above and beyond their responsibilities to help finish the film one time. Everyone felt it was their film.”
Describing the film’s journey from inception to its win at IFFI, Mahajan said: “It is nothing short of a dream. Jitendra and I started ‘Godavari’ with the pure intent of making a film in the memory of our friend, Mr Nishikant Kamat. We worked with a very small budget and against a crazy production schedule in the middle of a pandemic to make this happen. So, while we were just very content with having made the film we wanted to make, to win such prestigious awards in an international competition is tremendously humbling.”
When asked about how he intends to use the boost of this win to push the boundaries in upcoming projects, Joshi said: “It makes me believe in the power of the stories I really want to tell. I plan to use it as motivation to keep telling stories I truly believe in and not the content which is driven by market demands.”
Talking about how the turn of a new decade would impact Marathi cinema in the hyper-connected world of the Internet, Joshi said: “Marathi cinema has always been ahead of the curve in terms of storytelling and content. Thanks to social media and the rise of OTTs, the distribution challenges that arise because of regional content are being overcome. I see Marathi cinema rising and shining in the years to come.”