Amruta Subhash, Anjali Patil fondly remember Sumitra Bhave as Marathi drama Dithee releases
Actors Amruta Subhash and Anjali Patil, who both worked in Sumitra Bhave’s last film Dithee, credit the legendary director for inspiring them to be honest towards their craft while inculcating the love for good cinema.
Sumitra, known for films like Bai, Doghi, Astu - So Be It, Vaastupurush, Kaasav, died on April 19 at the age of 78.
The filmmaker’s final directorial venture, the Marathi-language film Dithee narrates the story of an ironsmith and his journey of undergoing the pain of his son's death and experiencing the principle of non-duality.
Amruta, daughter of actor Jyoti Subhash, said she first met Sumitra while she was in school and the director would often come home for script reading sessions with her mother.
During the premiere of her mother’s film Mukti, Amruta said while she was interacting with Sumitra, Sunil Sukthankar, who co-directed all of Sumitra's movies except Dithee, offered her Chakori.
The short film Chakori marked Subhash’s first collaboration with Sumitra, followed by Devrai, Badha, Nital, Astu: So Be It, for which she received the National award for best supporting actress.
“With Sumitra maushi, it was the longest relationship that I had. I attended my first film festival with her as a child when I did ‘Chakori’. She introduced me to film festivals, to the love of films. She had the passion to watch good films. We would stand in long queues and she would tell us about the film that we would watch, the director’s earlier films or about the actors," Amruta told PTI.
The actor, best known for her roles in Killa, Raman Raghav 2.0, Sacred Games season two, Gully Boy and the series Bombay Begums, said Sumitra "triggered" the love for good cinema in her.+
"And that’s a lifetime precious thing that she gifted to me. I am so attuned to good cinema. That passion is a big gift,” Subhash said, adding that it is still difficult to come to terms with the director's absence.
Anjali, who has worked in films such as Newton and Mirzya, said she doesn’t like to talk about Sumitra in past tense.
“To me, she is like a mentor, girlfriend, grandma, everything. I will think of her every time if I feel I am transgressing from the truth or authenticity or I feel I am not doing something which is 100 per cent honest and authentic and see myself moving away from my personal truth. I know I will hear the voice, ‘Is it the best you can do?” she said.
Amruta said it was odd to be promoting Sumitra's last film Dithee, which coincidently deals with death and grief, without the director.
“There is a divine plan happening. She talks about the loss of a loved one in her last film, which everyone can connect to. It is very difficult because that loss we keep on feeling again and again,” Amruta, 42, said.
“The point of view I am still trying to carry and learn and I hope every one of us takes is the spiritual point of view of looking at death with ‘Dithee’,” she added.
Citing their past collaborations, Amruta said Sumitra made her train with village women walking with grass on their heads for Chakori and asked her to stay with the shepherd community for Badha and made her train with an elephant named Laxmi for a ten-minute role in Astu.
“I wasn’t aware of what I was learning while working with her. Now, when I look back I realize that how much a director can help an actor grow, she gave me everything. Anyone would do good acting after all this. I started with the best in this field. I was fortunate to have her. She always took the best out of me," she added.
Anjali, who first met Sumitra at the age of 17 in a drama school, revealed the director wanted to cast her for a film. She is more than happy to have finally collaborated with Sumitra on Dithee, in which her character of Tulsa, barely has any dialogues.
“It took us good 15 to 16 years to work together. She had called me for ‘Dithee’ and said it is a small role but I see you and that we don’t have a producer. The idea for me was to be around her. I am lucky I got to work on this film. It is a masterpiece,” she said.
In Dithee, Amruta plays Parubai, an emotional yet strong woman.
The film boasts of a talented ensemble cast including Mohan Agashe, Dilip Prabhavalkar, Girish Kulkarni and Kishore Kadam. It released on SonyLIV on Friday.