He’s been associated with theatre for two decades yet Paresh Mokashi is still surprisedthat the Film Federation of India has zeroed in on his debut film, Harishchandrachi Factory, as India’s official entry for Oscars in the Best Foreign Language category.
A biography on Dadasaheb Phalke triggered off the idea. “I was very inspired by the fact that India’s first feature film was started in 1911 but completed only two years later,” Mokashi says.
Casting as easy. He opted for actors he knew and had seen on stage like Nandu Madhav, Vibhavari Deshpande, Mohit Gokhale and Atharva Karve.
But before he started shooting, Mokashi sourced other articles and audio-visual material from the national film archives on the Father of Indian Cinema and even met with his family. “There are four biographies on Dadasaheb Phalke, I referred to all of them before going on the floors in April 2008. We completed the film in eight months and I screened it for some of Dadasaheb’s relatives,” he says.
Mokashi doesn’t wish to be burdened by expectations. “We didn’t anticipate going to Oscars but not that we are, I’ll treat it as just another competition where the best film wins.”
He admits to his inexperience and hopes to get cues from the Shwaas team and Lagaan director Ashutosh Gowariker. “At the end of the day it is not about me but us,” he smiles.
He is in talks with corporate houses for much-needed funds to promote his film in the U S. “Negotiations are on, in another few days we shall sign the deal,” he says.
The Assembly elections are coming up next month and Mokashi knows there will be offers from political parties but he refuses to align with any of them. “I don’t want to mix politics with cinema,” he concludes.