Shame!” Lalit Marathe’s exclaims in response to the question “When will this awesome film release… RGV?” The query was posed by Marathe’s executive producer on Facebook recently. The two were talking about Shabri, Marathe’s directorial debut for producer Ram Gopal Varma.
According to Marathe, Shabri that revolves around a female don, was scheduled to open at the Rome Film Festival in 2006. “We were working on the mixing and the digital intermediate at Yash Raj studio in August. Since then there’s been no progress,” he sighs.
He adds that Italo Spinelli, the director of the festival also called the Asiatica Film Mediale, had seen Shabri during the editing and wanted to screen it in Rome. But Varma refused to enter it. Strangely, Marathe wasn’t even aware that his debut film had been invited to Rome until he received an email from Spinelli.
“For the last three years I’ve been told my film will happen soon. It was completed within budget and the trailer has been playing on youtube for a while. But if you’re looking for a release date from me, I’m clueless,” he says.
Marathe had earlier written Bhoot for Varma. “It was Ramu’s idea that I direct Shabri, though I was reluctant initially. He was very pleased with the first cut,” Marathe recalls.
Interestingly, Shabri was the first film to be made under a completion bond, singed by RGV and Pooja Bedi. “Shiva, the other film made under the completion bond, has come and gone. But there’s no sign of Shabri,” Marathe points out. On his part, he tried to contact Adlabs that has financed the movie, “But no one is responding,” he rues.
The last time Marathe spoke to Varma was before the multiplex strike. He was told that Shabri’s release would be scheduled once the strike ended. “But there has been no word from him since. I’m told that there were issues between Ramu and Adlabs that have to be sorted out. I’ve also heard that Adlabs, reeling from a string of flops, doesn’t think the film is a hot proposition,” says Marathe. “Those who’ve seen the promos on on youtube are interested but between themselves, Ramu and Adlabs have killed my film.”
With no debut to show, life has been pretty tough for Marathe. “I’m still pushing, I’m still trying.. but it’s like making a new start since I don’t have my debut to show to anyone,” says the director who’s trying to move on, having directed a teleseries Raju Ben, presented by Anurag Kashyap for Sony TV.
All said and done, Marathe is certain he will never work with Varma again. “Never. After all that I and my film have gone through, I’ve no inclination to work with Ramu again,” he concludes.