Viju Mane’s directorial Shikari presents a very substantial subject, but in a humourous manner. The film starring Suvrat Joshi, Neha Khan, Mrunmayee Deshpande, Bhau Kadam, Kashmera Shah and others, is releasing on April 20.
The director who visited Sakal Times office early this week to promote the film along with Suvrat and Neha said, “Shikari is about the way women are sexually exploited in the film industry. There is no denying that boys are also exploited. Though our story is based on the film industry, such incidents can happen anywhere.”
The film is being produced by Vijay Patil and co-produced by Anand Vaidyanathan. It’s being presented by Mahesh Manjrekar.
Stories of actresses, both established and struggling, being exploited in Hollywood, Bollywood and the South Indian film industry are making headlines every day. But Viju says that this particular story was with him for a long time and it’s a coincidence that the film is releasing now. “Exploitation in the industry has been happening for ages. The story was conceived by Maheshji seven years ago and he shared it with me some five years ago. He wanted me to direct this film. When we started shooting the film last year, #MeToo campaign wasn’t there,” said the director.
“Because of the glamour in the entertainment industry, people are at times willing to go to any length to succeed. But we are not preaching anything. Our film is a complete entertainer — you have to read between the lines and subtext of the film.”
Won’t humour dilute the serious subject matter (sexual assault on women)? “I don’t think so because wherever it was needed, we have raised the issue seriously,” said Viju, to which Suvrat added, “I think it’s the other way round. There is more impact if you use humour because the audience cannot predict what’s going to happen. You get entertained and suddenly when the dark part comes, the impact is even more.”
Also, Viju said that the story could have been told in a serious or dramatic manner but he wanted it to reach the masses. “The richness of Marathi cinema lies in its content. But at the same time, while working on the content, we cannot neglect our masses and the content that entertains them. If you want to give a message, why just give it to intellectual audience, why not to the masses? If you really want to do it, give in a way that normal people can understand and take away something from it,” he opined.
And is he worried about how the Marathi film industry will react to the film? “We know such incidents occur and we have to accept that,” Suvrat said, adding, “Such things do not happen with big stars but those who are trying to find their way in the industry. Those who get carried away by the glamour and glitter of the industry are the most vulnerable targets.”
Working in such adult films can be tricky because there is a very thin line between classy and cheap. So how did they approach the characters so that they didn’t end up looking vulgar? “It’s not only an actor’s job — these things were taken into consideration right from the scripting stage. I felt happy while working on the film because Viju sir was very clear from the beginning that jokes which had double meaning should not make you lose grace. Many actors have managed to gracefully pull off such roles. The scenes where we have shown violence against women, have been shot with great restraint,” said Suvrat, to which Neha added, “When I had heard the story, I liked it and I knew how I wanted to approach the role. We haven’t seen anyone play such a character in Marathi films. Mahesh Manjrekar is known for his stories and this production is no exception.”