Writer and actor of the year’s first superhit, Mee Shivaji Raje Bhosle Boltoy, dropped in at HT Café for coffee and conversation. Hiren Kotwani records....
How do you react to reports that
Mee Shivaji Raje Bhosle Boltoyis the Marathi version of
Lage Raho Munnabhai?
It was irresponsible reporting on the part of a journalist in a trade magazine. The only similarity is that like
who sees Mahatma Gandhi, Dinkar Rao Bhosle also has an audience with Shivaji Maharaj. So what? In
, Bruce Nolan (Jim Carrey) meets God (Morgan Freeman). So would you say that Lage Raho.. was inspired by
After all that Bhosle goes through, he needed a strong man who had fought for and upheld the Maratha pride, to inspire him. That’s how Shivaji Maharaj comes into the picture. We’ve studied about him in school and connect with him instantly.
Raj Thackeray came for the music release. Are you endorsing his ideologies?
Before we started shooting, I had sounded out Raj. He understood my viewpoint and was very encouraging. And it wasn’t just Raj, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan attended the mahurat too. I’m not endorsing any one party’s views.. but I’d like all parties to endorse Bhosle’s view.
That Mumbai is for the Marathi manoos?
The issue has been simmering since Morarji Desai’s time when he was the CM of Maharashtra. Still, Sindhis, Gujaratis, Bengalis, south Indians and Punjabis, they have all been living in harmony with the Maharashtrians for years. But it’s time to stop more people from coming in to Mumbai.
Bas, bahut ho gaya..
we have been raping the city for years and it can’t take any more. That’s the message I want to propagate. And I don’t think any other community would mind if we had a five per cent reservation of seats for the Marathi manoos to let them stay abreast of the competition.
Yes, the Marathi manoos has been suffering for a long time and it’s his fault considerably. He didn’t work hard enough. Why put up boards saying, “We have no branches?” Be a little enterprising and open more branches.
You plan to get into politics too?
No way, I’m not crooked enough!
So you think our
There are so many regional parties that support national parties to form the government.. then pull out. That’s not done!
There shouldn’t be more than four-five national parties so the government is not held to ransom. And when parties form an alliance, they should mutually agree to a common agenda, before the elections.. not after.. to figure out how best to use their victory. Or we could go the American way.
Have two parties.. and have the whole country voting to elect the Prime Minister.. the way the Americans bring their President to power. But I don’t see that happening in the near future because almost half our population doesn’t vote.
You think qualifications and an age limit should be set for politicians?
Even Class IV employees in the bank need to have passed their higher secondary exam. Yet, there are no educational qualifications for politicians.. or a retirement age. If politicians remain active even at 80-plus, how will the young blood come in?
Another important aspect that needs to be addressed is accountability. Non-performers have to be pulled up.
Do you think a Professional Peoples Party made up of bankers, doctors and journalists can bring the required changes in mainstream politics?
Professionals entering politics is surely a good start. Imagine someone like Ambani becoming the industries minister. He wouldn’t be corrupt because he has it all.
But those with empty pockets will want to fill them first, before thinking of the country. By the time they’re satisfied, it’s time for the next elections.
I intentionally included Bhosle’s speech in the end of the film.. when he talks about a sportsperson becoming the sports minister and an economist the finance minister.
But will such a party stand a chance against the heavy spending power centres?
I agree these independent people would be hard put to match the spending power of the big parties. The money spent by them is vulgar, and that’s an understatement. The way out is to vote and ensure that crooks don’t come into power.
Indirectly, we are electing them by abstaining from voting.
Now that your good friend Sanjay Dutt is the General Secretary of the Samajvadi Party, will you be roped in to campaign for them?
Why just SP? I won’t campaign for any party. And that’s because I don’t believe in any one party’s ideology completely. I may believe in a few issues of one party.. and others of another and so on.
Mee Shivaji Raje.. is the first superhit of the year.. you must be elated?
(Smiles) I wrote it in anger. A Bengali will support another Bengali but a Marathi manoos will never support his brother. From the feedback I’ve been getting, the story has connected, and not just with Maharashtrians. Even non-Maharashtrians are liking the film which reiterates the fact that I’ve got the message across.
Since you wrote the script, why didn’t you direct it yourself?
I wrote it for my brother Sudesh, who wanted to make a film with another assistant, Atul. Earlier,
I had discussed some ideas with my cousin, Santosh, but he’s hard to please. After I completed this script, I thought this would be
ideal for him.
I spoke to Sudesh and Atul, and asked if they had no problems with Santosh doing it. They were okay. All three have been working with me for years. They make films exactly the way I visualise them when writing.
Why are you not directing Hindi films?
Too risky! With a Marathi film you can recover costs, even make a profit, but with a Hindi film that’s doubtful. Also, coordinating star dates, then being coerced to include suggestions and songs. (Shrugs)
, I had to include a song shot in Switzerland. I still refuse to see it. Astitva was the only film I made without any compromises. And Struggler, which I’m working towards releasing it myself.
So no more Hindi films?
was the last one as a director. After that, I was busy with acting assignments. I may direct another Hindi film but it won’t have stars. Meanwhile, I’ve started working on a Marathi movie about the school education system, titled
.. Translated in English, it means: 17 seven’s are. How much is that?
It took you a few seconds to calculate, right? So why do we expect our children to know the answer in a flash.. to know when Mahmood of Ghazni invaded India. We spend years learning such things in school that are of little practical use. Why?
That’s an interesting concept.
So is the series based on the seven colours. I’ve written a couple of these full length feature films. White is about death.. Blue is sadness.. a blind couple in love. Orange is happiness. I want to make films I believe in, without compromises.
Can you recall a recent highpoint in your life?
Playing with Sachin Tendulkar. We were playing a charity cricket match for the Mukti Foundation. I had torn a ligament a day before. But there was no way I would miss out playing with the Master Blaster who has made us proud of being a Marathi manoos.