He made his directorial debut with Aakrosh (1980) that bagged the National Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi and the Golden Peacock at the International Film Festival of India. It was based on a play by Vijay Tendukar, a dark satire supposedly inspired by a Page 7 incident about the victimisation of the have-nots and the corruption in our judiciary.
Thirty-two years later, Govind Nihalani is planning a Marathi film on another Tendulkar play, Jhala Anant Hanumant . “It’s a contemporary urban fantasy, a searing satire on the commercialisation of everything including human beings who are being sold in the market as products. It’s the ‘ultimate’ marketing gimmick and something that doesn’t seem impossible in today’s scenario,” he explains.
The Tendulkar-Nihalani connection dates back to 1971, when the latter co-produced a Marathi film with Satyadev Dubey, based on a Tendulkar play. Shantata! Court Chalu Aahe, directed by Dubey, with Nihalani debuting as full-fledged cinematographer, was Tendulkar’s first screenplay.
He went on to write several landmark films, including Shyam Benegal’s Nishant (1975), Jabbar Patel’s Umbartha (1982) and Nihalani’s own Aakrosh (1980) and Ardh Satya (1983). “Jhala Anant Hanumant hasn’t been adapted on screen before because it requires expensive production inputs. The costs would be pretty high, but I’m planning big.
My film will incorporate animation, music and a huge amount of special effects. I have my fingers crossed,” says the filmmaker, adding that the project should go on the floors soon and he plans to release it this year itself.