Gautam steps into the room and when asked what he would like to have, he says, Chaha! Punyatla chaha mhanje amruttulya (The tea made in Pune is nectar). To his fans, this is music to the ears. The quintessential Puneri, Gautam always has a quip or two about how Pune aces it better than Mumbai. With Gauri in tow, he settles down to sip the brew and talk about the latest happenings in their life.
“We are expecting a guest in our lives,” he announces formally. Their fans, who have been with them throughout their ‘getting to know each other’ phase, and marriage, are understandably kicked about it.
“We have had lots of requests from people to know what’s happening in our lives; people wanted to know ‘Who is Mumbai?’ ‘Who is Pune?’ And, so in Mumbai Pune Mumbai 2, we introduced ourselves, our families and our journey towards matrimony. And, now, after 2-3 years of marriage, well, we have a little one joining us,” says Swwapnil Joshi, who played, Gautam, the ever so popular character in recent times.
Mukta Barve, aka Gauri adds, “When Satish (Rajwade) made the film, it wasn’t called Mumbai Pune Mumbai 1. We had no idea that the film would be so popular or that people would start linking their lives with our onscreen lives.”
“It’s the love from people that we and the film received which resulted in the sequel. But, yes, Satish took five years to work on taking the story forward. It was not solely a commercial decision, else the sequel would have been announced much earlier. Again, he took a two year break, before coming back with the third part. With this, Mumbai Pune Mumbai becomes the first Marathi film to have three sequels,” adds Swwapnil, who is known for his work in Duniyadari.
The third in the series, which releases today, also ticks off a few interesting milestones for Swwapnil and his character, Gautam. “We started shooting last year on December 7; that was the day, when Swwapnil’s youngest son, Raghav was born. The film releases on his first birthday!,” chirps Mukta.
“Also, as an actor, I had lots to learn from Swwapnil. He had been with Leena through her pregnancy and I used to badger him with questions like, ‘Can I sit with my legs crossed?’, ‘Is it okay if I sleep on my side?’. I had lots of questions for Satish and Pallavi (Rajwade) too. Pallavi has also co-written the script and I took some time internalising that Gauri could have mood swings. I would ask Swwapnil, and Satish, ‘Isn’t she (Gauri) over-reacting? She was okay a minute ago, why does she suddenly become cranky?’ Swwapnil would say, ‘There is no logic to this. If a pregnant woman feels like eating an ice cream at two in the night, get her one. Enjoy the moment’,” Mukta recalls.
Talking about the shooting, Mukta, who has acted in Jogwa and Ek Daav Dhobi Pacchad, says, “At one level, it was all very surreal. When I returned to shooting the sequel, it felt like I had come back to my family. There is a lot of warmth and understanding. Plus Prashant Damle, Savita Prabhune, Vijay Kenkre, Mangal Kenkre are all seasoned actors. Rohini Hattangadi is another stellar actor joining us in this film.”
Swwapnil echoes the feeling of attachment with the film and adds, “We have had the same team and crew working with us on all three parts, which is a rarity. It testifies how this film has managed to touch everyone’s heart.”
The actors narrate another incident which explains the audience’s connect with the film. “We have revisited a few areas of the city which were shown in the first part. So we were shooting at Sarasbaug and then the word spread and a mob of about 40-45,000 people gathered. Those who were there in the front whipped out their phones and started shooting us. Satish got worried on many counts - for our safety, for the film, if it was leaked. So he stood up on a chair and requested the people to not upload what they had shot. He said it would adversely affect the film. Later, we checked with cyber teams and asked them to pull down the leaked portions of the film if they surfaced online. But to our surprise and joy, not one scene was leaked. This shows how much people are involved with the film and the makers, actors,” informs Swwapnil.
One reason for the love and affection that the film and its sequel has garnered is that the story and the protagonists are real and their concerns and dilemmas are not exaggerated. Says Swwapnil, “There is nothing in this film or in the previous outings which might feel out of place or sudden. The story moves ahead gradually, showcasing all that happens in a couple’s life.” Mukta adds to it, “In this sequel too, the film’s scope has increased, there are more people, but nothing that would take the audience by surprise. Yes, there are some twists, but that would happen in a regular couple’s life too.”
She then goes on to add, “The best part about working with Satish is that he wants his team to be toned and natural. As an actor, it’s very difficult to ‘act or emote but not seem like acting’. He doesn’t want anything calculated or constructed from his actors. At times when we tried to ‘act’ a bit, he would make us do another take. I would say that, Satish’s heroines are very forward looking. We were shooting for Mumbai Pune Mumbai in 2008, and 10 years ago, he showed his heroine as someone who made a trip to turn down a guy’s proposal. In the next part, he showed Gauri as someone who took her time in deciding if she wanted to marry Gautam. Gautam, on his part, allowed her time to take the decision. He was prepared for Gauri’s rejection. Here, again he has shown her moods. His protagonists are all very real.”