Team Rampaat – actors Abhinay Berde and Kashmira Pardeshi along with Mangesh Kulkarni, Business Head, Zee Studios Marathi – talk to Padma Iyer about the film, working with director Ravi Jadhav, their expectations from the film and more
Kashmira, this is your debut Marathi film and Abhinay, your second film with Zee Studios. How did you become a part of Rampaat?
Kashmira Pardeshi (KP): It is a very interesting story. December 2018 was the deadline my family had given me. I was a design student and had graduated two years earlier. But I wanted to try my hand at films. There is no one in my family who works in the film industry. My dad is a cop. There was a little tension. But then I had done well in my studies and had kept that little window open for this opportunity. So they gave me one year. I came to Bombay, did theatre workshops and some projects in the South.
As my deadline approached, I was all set to pack my bags. But then I got a call from Rohan Mapuskar, the casting director. I was just back from a shoot and very tired. He asked me to meet him, which I reluctantly did. He asked me to say a few lines in Kolhapuri, which he recorded. After he sent the video, he told me it was for a Ravi Jadhav film! Luckily, I got a call from Ravi sir and auditioned for three hours. Later, I got a call back for a look-test. Even then I was not sure if I was part of the film. Then when Abhinay (Berde) came in, Ravi sir introduced me as ‘He aapli Munni’, that is when I knew I was in the film!
Then this is a Zee Studios film. When I got to know that, I was very happy.
Abhinay Berde (AB): My association with Zee Studios is very old. With regard to Ravi sir, he saw me at an awards function. Then we met, he liked me and I got the film. I share a certain comfort level with Zee; they introduced me to this industry and made me feel very comfortable. Besides, the entire process of making Rampaat was wonderful.
I play Mithun, who is vibrant and colourful just like me. He is a filmy keeda. I am not a filmy person, but I am a filmy actor.
Mangesh, what made Zee Studios become part of Rampaat?
Mangesh Kulkarni (MK): First and foremost, the question was: does it live up to our name? Rampaat also comes on the back of two successful films – Naal and Anandi Gopal, both very different films. So it was a task to cast the next one. We always work with a very good slate of films. So having done Naal, which is about the emotional world of a six-year-old boy, and Anandi Gopal, which was about India’s first woman doctor set in the 1880s, we needed to infuse a breath of fresh air. We also wanted to cater to the lightness of the summer vacation. So we decided to opt for something entertaining. Of course, none of our films is without a message and neither do Ravi’s films lack a message. There is the right combination of entertainment, a message and something the entire family can sit together and watch.
The good thing is, Ravi is a very sensible filmmaker and he has the entire film in his head. Writing Rampaat took at least a year to 18 months and we kept jamming. A film, to my mind, happens on paper much before the first shot is taken. So it took longer than usual for us to crack the right idea. But once the two-hour script was done, these guys came board and everything fell in place.
Abhinay, this is the first time you are working with you mother. How did she become part of Rampaat?
AB: My favourite performances of my mother are in Jogva and Natarang. I used to tell my mother that she had to work with Ravi sir again. She would always say that it would happen when it was meant to happen.
When Kaalubai came along, I felt it had been written for my mother. She was the most appropriate person for the role. I knew there was no one else but she who could do it. It is such a fun and interesting role. And she has done an amazing job! She is extremely filmy. She has 40 years of experience in acting and I have learnt so much from her. She has a good command over Marathi and used to correct me whenever I made mistakes. She gets angry when I get the grammar wrong.
But when it came to the performance, Ravi sir was there to guide us. I enjoyed working with her. Actually, I didn’t want to work with her so early in my career. But this script was amazing and there was no way we could refuse.
Kaalubai views her dreams through her son, and my mom did the same. My mother wanted to see her son on the 70mm screen and Kaalubai had the same dream. The settings may be different but the dreams are the same.
As a banner, Zee has been associated with a wide variety of films. Is the kind of slate you have a conscious decision?
MK: It is always a very deliberate decision. At the risk of sounding immodest, we are THE studio in Marathi. We have been at the helm of what I call the ‘revival of Marathi cinema’ and that has happened due to the kinds of subjects we have picked. If you look at our line-up, no one movie is like the others. We are blessed with so many good writers and directors, who are willing to tell their stories and tell them differently.
One thing we have also ensured is not following any formula; that is a sure-shot way to not get it right. The only thing we have tried to do with the subject is, whether budgeting, casting or marketing, is does it suit our brand, is it Marathi enough, and something that people will be proud to see? For us, the few crore rupees we have invested may be less than the 100-rupee ticket that the cinema-goer will spend. We are equally emotionally invested in the film as is the man on the street.
Were there any challenges that you faced as actors, was there anything that surprised you as well?
KP: The biggest challenge was getting the dialect right, because I have a very Puneri accent. The nuances are different. So during the workshop, Abhinay, the writers and Ravi sir worked on it. But the real flavour came in when we started shooting in Kolhapur. I have lived in there for three years. So listening to the local people helped me get the dialect right.
And there was the wrestling, which was great! I had to practise there with state-level and national-level players.
There was also a lot of guerrilla shooting for this film. We shot at the Dadar flower market at 7.30 in the morning. I was selling gajras there, a bus suddenly stopped in front of me and I could hear someone call out, saying I had dropped a ten-rupee note. At that moment, I froze, I didn’t know if I should pick up the note or ignore it. But I realised if I was really selling gajras, I would have picked up the money. Then I started selling the gajras and people actually bought some from me. Ravi sir even signed a ten-rupee note that I had ‘earned’. I have framed it in my house.
AB: I had to perform a soliloquy written by Satyadev Dubey. It is very inspiring for young, upcoming actors. It was difficult for me as it was in Hindustani, the Hindi you usually hear from Bachchan saab and Gulzar saab. It was very refined. So the first major challenge was to learn it by rote and the second was to emote it, to pause in the right places. When people hear it, they should feel the urge to clap. It was challenging, but I loved doing it. Ravi sir taught me the right pronunciation and where to pause, and it came out really well.
As producers, how do you decide how much to promote a film?
MK: We are known for our promotions. And Marathi cinema does need a lot of it since there is an overlap with Hindi. So it is a task to pull movie-goers away from Hindi films. We also need to pull them away from English. So sometimes we end up spending as much as the CoP on the promotions.
Also, during on-ground promotions, if we can make sure our stars are called by their characters’ names – in this case ‘Mithun’ and ‘Munni’ – a week before the film’s release, then our job is done. That is our litmus test.
What are your expectations from the film and what can the audience expect?
KP: Coincidentally, my character and I share the same dream. So Rampaat, rather Munni, gave me my dream. So when you see Munni, the audience will relate with her journey. It is a fun film.
AB: I am anxious as well as excited for the audience to watch the film. And experiencing both these emotions is very tricky. But I have confidence in Rampaat and in Mithun and Munni. The audience will be entertained. In his signature style, Ravi sir has a message as well.
MK: We are already blessed with the success of our earlier films, which this follows. This is our fifth film with Ravi. We have Natarang, Timepass 1 and 2, Nude and now Rampaat. All along, we have been blessed with success and we wish the trend continues and the magic happens again.