Directed by Rohan Deshpande and produced by Vidhi Kasliwal, Marathi film Pipsi, which releases on July 27, deals with grave matters related to life and death, fiction and myth, friendship and hope and leaves it to two incredibly determined eight-year-olds to make sense of them. The two children, portrayed brilliantly by Maithili Patwardhan and Sahil Joshi, will take the movie to another level.
It is easier to get a bottle of Pipsi, a local cola drink, than water in the drought-hit village of Rakh in eastern Maharashtra. And yet, eight-year-old Chaani and her friend Baalu, manage to store some of the precious liquid in a bottle to grow a fish. The streams in eastern Maharashtra have all dried up but that does not keep these kids from finding a fish.
Pipsi is a story of hope and finding joys in the little possibilities around us, and also of friendship.
The doctor in their village has pronounced that Chaani’s mother will live only for the next three months. After listening to the story of King Satyavrat and the fish from the Mahabharata, Chaani and Balu are convinced that a fish alone will save Chaani’s dying mother. They are determined to find it and manage to do that. They name it after their favourite drink, Pipsi. So is Chaani’s mother saved in the end? To know the answer, you have to watch the film.
Talking about the inspiration behind the intriguing story, Sourabh Bhave, the writer of the film, says that he has been very close to the movie’s director Rohan right from their school days. He further adds, “The story first came to us at a tea stall at Borivali and we thought how would it be if some girl really felt that the soul of a person is stuck in a fish’s body?”
He explains that initially, the story that they had thought of was about a mother, a daughter and a fish that the daughter wants to use, to save her mother but gradually a few layers were added -- friendship and the issues of adults and how the life in eastern Maharashtra has been impacted. “But we were very sure we wanted to keep it from the point of view of children and how they are oblivious to certain things,” he adds.
The experience of drought is central to movie. The cracked and parched terrain on which the two children grapple with farmer suicides, agricultural distress and debt is very impact-making but the movie, shot at Arni, a village in Yavatmal district, is much more than that.
Producer Vidhi says that she is so glad that she could be a part of the movie because the storyline is completely different from a conventional movie plot. “It touches you on so many levels and every person can learn a different story from it, be it of hope, friendship or happiness,” Kasliwal says. The innocence that both the children bring to the screen amidst the tragedies is remarkable and is something that makes the movie stand out, adds she.
“We were lucky that the first children we auditioned were Sahil and Maithili,” Vidhi says. “When you give children a script, they take everything so sincerely. These two knew each other’s lines as well. They would come up with a lot of nuances or actions they needed to do. They brought their naturalness to the characters. They became great friends as well, entertaining each other between shots.”
Although the movie has a serious undertone, it did not deter the children from having fun on the sets. “Being from Mumbai, I initially found it difficult to adjust to the harsh climatic conditions in the village but once I was involved in the scenes, I was okay,” Maithali says, adding that she and Sahil had a blast playing on the set, with each other and even with the director and the crew. “But once the shot was ready, we would immediately become serious and get into our characters,”says Sahil.
Recalling an incident from the shooting days, Vidhi says that Maithali was not only scared of the dog but also of the fish but she carried off the scenes so well and convincingly that it is hard to believe. Both the writer and the producer agree that they do not think anybody other than Maithali and Sahil would have pulled off the roles better.