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Paresh Mokashi- Indian under Spotlight

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Beneath the surface with Paresh Mokashi & his film- Harishchandrachi Factory- India's official entry for Oscars 2010.

 

Paresh- Mokashi

Harishchandrachi Factory is a period film set in British India of 1911. While India was still a few decades from gaining its independence, the cinematic medium was restricted to colonial Europeans and Indian elites. Almost by chance, an Indian printer made India's first feature film. That's where the seeds of Indian Cinema were sown. This Indian was Dhundiraj Phalke, known popularly as Dadasaheb Phalke. The film chronicles Phalke's voyage to make 'Raja Harishchandra'- India's first feature film.

A few words with the writer-director Paresh Mokashi on 'Harischandrachi Factory' and its selection as India's official entry for Oscars 2010.

 

A still from HCF

 

  • IIP: What prompted you to choose a subject like Dadasaheb Phalke? Were you a bit surprised with your own inspiration since no one has ever done a full length film on him?
    PM: All the stories I had been hearing since childhood and Bapu Watawe's biography on Phalke were the source of my inspiration. While reading it, I decided to make a film on the subject. I am not surprised but in a way pleased that I would be the first one to do a film of dadasaheb !

  • IIP: How did your view of Dadasaheb changed as your movie progressed and how did it affect you as a film maker?
    PM: When I read the biographies and researched on him, Phalke for me emerged as an eccentric, a scientist and the one who gives importance to work and not emotions. this view has not change till this date.

  • IIP: Did you set any criterion for your lead actors - a certain discipline/ background/ homework/ workshop to get the period look/accents etc.for example ?
    PM: No. Nandu Madhav and Vibhawari Deshpande, who portray the Phalke couple, are by nature very dedicated and disciplined. Most importantly, they are good actors who fitted in my characterization.

  • IIP: Many congratulations on the selection of your film as Indian official entry for Oscars. Did you expect your film to be selected? What was your first reaction on being told that it had been selected?
    PM: I did not expect the film to be selected. I was pleasantly surprised!

  • IIP: Now that one milestone is achieved, what next? We can imagine that Indian films other than big budget glossy Bollywood products may have small publicity budget especially to build an anticipation for Oscars. Do you have any strategy planned or do you believe that the goodness of your output will speak for itself and that itself is a big achievement ?
    PM: Our next step is spreading awareness of this film by a big commercial release worldwide. We are doing our homework for the Oscars. UTV and Paprika media are supporting us now so there is no problem on the money front. Yes, of course, all this happened because the film stood out on its own merit without any big names attached to it.

  • What are some other projects that you are working on?
    PM: I come from theater. So I will go back to theater to do a couple of plays. Then again, I will do films as I have a few subjects in head.

Paresh Mokashi, the debutant director of the film, started his career as an actor with the well known theater group- Theatre Academy in Pune. Twenty years since, he has been involved in Marathi drama, Theatre Academy's co-production for children as well as with the Grip Theatre of Berlin. He is involved in writing and directing his plays and has enjoyed critical and commercial success. Some of his plays such as Sangeet Debunchya Muli, Mukkampost Bombilwadi and lagnakallol have been greatly appreciated. His other interests include research in ancient Indian scriptures such as the Vedas, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. HCF still


Even though Marathi theater occupies an important place in western India, there are not many Marathi films that have been felicitated with prestigious awards. A national award winner, the last Marathi film to have gone as India's entry to Oscars was Shwaas (2004), directed by Sandeep Sawant. It starred Arun Nalawade, Ashwin Chitale and Sandeep Kulkarni among others. It dealt with a sensitive subject of a child afflicted with cancer and the message of hope amidst despair.

 

The only other Marathi film to have made it to the national award was Shyamchi Aai (1953), directed by Prahlad Keshav Atre. The film was an adaptation of a famous Marathi novel written by Sane Guruji. At times like these, when audience is opening up to atypical subjects, the time might just be right for film makers to express themselves by making films that are closest to their hearts and sensibilities. As audience, we can only hope, wait and watch!

 

Harishchandrachi Factory

 

Official website of Harishchandrachi Factory

Attend the avant-premiere of Harishchandrachi Factory at Musée Guimet