Interview By: DRISHTI PANDEY
Director Ravi Jadhav now seems to have decided to conquer Hindi cinema, after wooing the viewers with his Marathi films. His Hindi directorial debut ‘Banjo’ has just hit the screens and here the director speaks about his experience in Hindi cinema and journey so far…
“I go by stories. I don't want to be someone making one kind of genre.”
What was the starting point for ‘Banjo’?
In India I’ve seen, in different states they have their own street music and youngsters in any functions like the wedding, election rally or any occasions come and play music with these instruments like dhol, banjo, etc. It’s been seen everywhere like in Gujarat, Bengal, I’ve seen in U.P, Bihar and in Maharashtra. But I thought to myself that street music is getting a stage worldwide for example hip hop is come from street and even rap music has come from street; and they are getting the stage but unfortunately in India the street musicians who need to get that respect, haven’t got a stage. We see them taking money from their mouth or people throw money on them but as an artist they don’t get that respect as they should be receiving. So the journey of writing on this concept started from there and now the film has released.
What was your sensibility while writing the script? Was Riteish Deshmukh always your first choice for the character? And what about your other characters?
Yes from day one he was in my mind for this particular character, I noticed him in 2010 and was sure about him. I knew that if Riteish will be in this movie then it will be fun. So in 2013, when we made the ‘Balak Palak’ which Riteish had produced; that time I had narrated him the script to him. I felt that he knows all these languages and he will do justice to this character. He is an awesome actor and a fantastic human being. It’s like if he gets a good script, he works amazingly on it. For example in ‘Ek Villian’ the character he played was so good and he has a very good timing of humor, he is also very good with emotional scenes. So I was sure he will do justice to this ‘Taraat’ character and Nargis’ character is more like herself in the film since she’s from New York. She’s come here to work in films so the way she felt when she first came to Mumbai; it’s the exactly character she had to play in this film. A girl names Christina who comes from New York to Mumbai in search for these people and what all struggle she has to face throughout to reach them. She’s been exactly the same as she is in real life; she didn’t use anything fake as a wig or something, she doesn’t need to wear any traditional wear because she just had to be the way she is, so both have looked really natural in the film. I had seen Dhamesh’s work in ‘ABCD 2’ and also seen him in ‘DID.’ I was his fan since then. He is an awesome dancer, so I thought if he doesn’t dance what will happen? So in this film he isn’t dancing but his performance is really good. Aditya kumar we have seen him as a perpendicular in ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ he had played Nawazuddin younger brother’s role which he played really good. So I feel, the star cast in the film is natural if the audience will watch the film they will relate to these characters which they witness around them.
What was the initial step to write this story and how long did it take you to write the script?
When I did the Marathi film ‘Natarang’ in which I received national award, that story was based on an artist and how he struggles for his art so that moment I was in that zone of artist and how they have to struggle to show their talent, to the audience. That time I had started writing but the final draft I wrote in 2015. So about four and a half years I was just thinking and doing research and I was meeting a lot of banjo players across India; talking about their life, understanding what is their struggle, knowing their struggle, what are their life dreams and expression value; so it all took time and while all this the film draft was being prepared before shooting, in between all this I did my Marathi film ‘Balak Palak’, then a short film called ‘Mitraa’ which also received national award.
How different is it to direct and write for Hindi cinema?
One major difference I found that in Marathi films is that, my primary target audience is my Marathi audience and their sensibilities, what they like and dislike and if many people have liked the film and has travelled a lot to festivals so then definitely worldwide audiences watch it and bollywood audience to watch it. ‘Balak Palak’ was very popular and ‘Time Pass’ was famous all over India so much so that PM Modi sir had used it’s dialogue in one of his speech. So my primary audience in my Marathi films are Marathi audiences but when I think about a Hindi film and go to see it and of course this is time first attempt in Hindi cinema so now I have to think about all the audience may it be a man from calculate, U.P., Bihar audience, or Gujarat audience. I have to think over all and it’s a big responsibility on me that every state of India’s audience should feel the film is appealing and they should relate to the film so that’s a big challenge in Hindi cinema is what I personally feel. And since the time I started writing ‘Banjo’ and started knowing things about them, I had to travel all around India and I tried to understand what kind of films they like, what kind of visual quality they like, so that was also one change that I found. Usually Marathi film budgets are low which is a advantage also for us but in Hindi, the visuals become big and songs are shot well so these are the basic things but major thing is to connect with larger audience and to understand their sensibilities.
How attached are you to music because as we see you’ve directed a music video for pentagram and also a Marathi single and now again a musical backdrop?
I love music. When I use to do ads also I use to write jingles which use to get famous. I love music like in my films ‘Natarang’, ‘Balgandharva’, ‘Time Pass’ were musical. So basically I love music and the whole process of it. ‘Banjo’ has a different kind of music which is honest and portrays live music, it is to see how will it be seen in the big screens for that it had to be recorded in that way. I think Vishal-Shekhar has done a fantastic job they have done a very good melody keeping in mind the sense as to how the real banjo people play it and have been true to them also. Plus the music is universal appealing though they only play it in functions but this music of ‘Banjo’ is made to play in all modes of life; they have done a fantastic job. Like we have Hero’s in our films similarly music field Heros are Vishal-Shekhar and also Ajay-Atul have done great work some of their work that we have seen in ‘ Singham’ ‘Agneepath’. Ajay has first time sung for any other music director in the film; he sang a song which I feel is brilliantly sung. So I feel over all this album has come out really well. The rating the music has got is really good.
How was it shooting in Mumbai?? I mean the remote areas of Mumbai which you have showcased in your film, were there any difficulties shooting in such areas?
I love shooting in Mumbai I know it’s difficult but I love shooting in Mumbai. It’s a beautiful city and I love to portray my Mumbai as a beautiful city I don’t want to show it a dirty city. I want people to see it beautifully even if it has some flaws we need to show it in a way which looks beautiful and showcases life in it I like to show things in a very good manner. Thanks to my DOP Manoj lobo who has done a fantastic job of shooting Mumbai differently.
How was your collaboration with Riteish as an actor, as we have seen you before collaborating with him as a producer for ‘Balak Palak?’
He is a very good person and very cooperative. He understands and gets into the role, he will always think about his character. I love artists who gets involved in the process and give their 100%. It was a fun atmosphere at shoot, Genelia use to get food from home and come with their son. This is my first Hindi film and he is done so many films still he made me very comfortable and he told me the very first day only that ‘you’re the debutante director in Hindi cinema but I would say you are the most experienced debutante director’ which was very kind of him to say; so he made me very comfortable from day one.
Any future projects with Riteish?
I’m going to direct ‘Chhatrapati Shivaji’ and Riteish is the producer. It’s a very ambitious project and a big responsibility; making such a film about a king which has love and respect. Research is on and we will take time. We don’t want to do anything in hurry we want to do thorough research and want to make it in a very big scale so work is in process let’s see how it works. We will do each and every detailing, so it will take time.
There are so many big releases this month, like ‘Raaz Reboot’, ‘Pink’, and ‘M.S.Dhoni’ coming up so are you apprehensive in any manner?
I think it’s life now and I’m not apprehensive about it. Every week there will be big movies releasing and not only Hindi movies but in television also there is something coming up. There is a huge choice for audience, besides movies there is theatre, television, malls to go to and it’s a good thing. But if your movie is good it will definitely work.
Tell us something about the title and how did you come up with it?
The instrument is called banjo, it’s a Spanish instrument. It’s a five thread instrument. People even call it bulbul tarang. But here these banjo parties which has a group we don’t call it a band but a banjo party. So I thought banjo is very cooler name than banjo party. Some people think it’s an abusive word but it isn’t (laughs) and also that I like short names basically, hence ‘Banjo.’
Any particular genre you wish to make?
If one will see my journey till date I have always given surprises. After ‘Natarang’, ‘Balgandharva’ was totally different. ‘Natarang’ was nothing similar to ‘Balgandharva’. And after ‘Balgandharva’ which was about a very famous Marathi artist I made ‘Balak Palak’ which is about sex education which was completely in contrast. Then came ‘Time Pass’ which is again different from the previous one. After that I did ‘Mitraa’ which was about homosexuality. And now I’m doing ‘Banjo’ which is again completely different of what I did before and now I’m working on ‘Chhtrapati Shivaji’ which is biographical film and in between all this I’m doing a short Marathi film called ‘Nude’. So I go by stories, I don’t want to be someone making one kind of genre. I will do comedy, I will do action films, I will do romantic films as I will write I will keep making different films.
Which process of film making do you enjoy the most?
I love writing and I think if the director has written the film it is easier for him to shoot the film. Because the screenplay is in your mind since day one and I actually love the journey of writing. I’m originally a graphic designer, I passed out from JJ school of arts so I’m actually a graphic designer then I started writing for ads and then directing for ads. I love writing and have written countless things till now. Most of my films are written by me and developing a screenplay is very important so I was 100% sure about how I’m going to shoot it. So directing and writing is a hand and hand process and one more process I love is music process.