After working for 25 years in the Marathi film industry, Sanjay Jadhavhas climbed his way to the top, slowly and steadily. His last release Duniyadari was a textbook example of how to effectively market Marathi films. Now Jadhav is all set to present his latest release, Pyaar Vali Love Story during Diwali. In a candid chat with Sagorika Dasgupta, he tells us what’s in store with his new film
The title of your film is very unusual for a Marathi film.
Yes, I know. Actually, when I was making my previous film, Duniyadari, there was a song in the film, which had a line in it that went ‘Pyaar vali love story’. Since this film is a love story too, I felt it was an apt title. Hindi films titles too are becoming quirkier and since Marathi cinema is undergoing a sea change, even our film titles are getting interesting.
This is a musical love story about a Hindu-Muslim couple and their trials and tribulations. This is a concept that has not been explored before in the Marathi cinema space and the audience has shown quite a positive response towards the trailer and the songs.
Speaking about the music of the film… a lot of music videos of your film are available online. What is that all about?
We are hoping the music of the film will be a big draw and so I thought of adding a little twist to it. Every time a film promotes its songs before its release, they use visuals from the film. What happens is the audience is exposed to the same visuals over and over again, when the promos play on TV. So we decided to shoot a separate music video for every song and release them on all media platforms. That way, when the audience watches the film in cinemas, they are exposed to absolutely fresh content. We have garnered a lot of hits online so I think we are moving in the right direction.
Your last film Duniyadari was a huge hit. Are you nervous about how this film will fare?
Absolutely! I am getting nightmares! I am not Sachin Tendulkar to score a century every time I release a film. There is a lot of pressure on me since I have set a benchmark with Duniyadari. No filmmaker makes a bad film deliberately. Filmmaking is an arduous task and it requires a lot of effort. We have given this film our best effort and the rest is up to the audience.
Actors like Ritesh Deshmukh and Shreyas Talpade, who are actively involved in Marathi cinema, cite Duniyadari as an example of unique marketing in Marathi cinema. Back then, you had roped in B-School students to come up with a case study on how to promote Marathi films. What are your marketing plans for this film?
Yes, the industry praised our effort when we marketed Duniyadari, and with Pyaar Vali Love Story, we plan to take our marketing a notch higher. So we began a thematic publicity campaign using the film’s merchandise. The lead pair in the film, Swapnil Joshi and Sai Tamhankar, wears a friendship band and a heart-shaped pendant respectively, so we used these two items, calling them ‘Pyaar Vala band’ and ‘Pyaar vala pendant’ to promote the film. These items are becoming increasingly popular across several cities in Maharashtra, especially among the youth, which is our core target audience. We are using traditional media like TV to hammer our promos, songs and the music videos I spoke about earlier. We have contests running on radio stations, with Radio City as our partners running a ‘super singer contest’ that will be judged by the lead cast of our film.
But the best part is that, thanks to the stir caused by Duniyadari’s campaign and the success of that film at the box office, a lot of newer brands have come forth to collaborate with us. So for instance, the famous jewellery brand Vaman Hari Pethe has associated with our film to create a unique range of ‘Pyaar vala jewellery’.
Future Group has also tied up with us, and under this partnership, our promos will be aired all through October on the TV screens at their flagship stores Big Bazaar. I am very excited about this tie-up as October is the time when families do their Diwali shopping at Big Bazaar. From tomorrow, we will be engaging into a big outdoor activity, where the entire team of the film, especially the cast, will be travelling across the length and breadth of Maharashtra, in a ‘Pyaar Vala bus’, to spread awareness about the film to meet-and-greet fans.
What made you cast the lead pair, Swapnil Joshi and Sai Tamhankar?
Swapnil has been a part of almost every film of mine. More than a friend, he is like family to me. Sai also is a great friend and, by God’s grace, they are both very popular in Marathi films these days. They fit the characters to the ‘T’ and, more importantly, I like to work with people who are like-minded. I believe that a film’s success comes when the shooting is smooth and like a joyride. There were no two ways about whom to cast in the lead roles.
Were there any challenges you faced while making this film?
The biggest challenge was staying grounded. I had to be conscious about not letting my last film’s success go to my head. I want to prove to the audience that Duniyadari was not a fluke and I am capable of much more.
What can the audience expect from the film?
Grandeur! I am very proud of how the film has been mounted. Right from the storyline, the actors, music and production values, we have gone all out to make sure that we give the audience the best. It’s a proper holiday film, which will appeal to the family audience, teens and the youth. I was fortunate to get a good story to tell but the execution is even better. Also, I would like to emphasise that this film is not a sequel to Duniyadari. The budget is twice as high as those of my earlier films. The marketing is also more spread out. We had special sets created for the film. It’s quite a visual treat.
Your film will release during Diwali, when Shah Rukh Khan is also releasing his much-hyped Happy New Year. Are you worried that it will eat into your film’s business?
This happens when there are two big-budget Hindi films releasing on Diwali, as has been the case for many years. Regional cinema definitely takes a beating then because both films claw at each other for screen space, and the smaller film invariably suffers. Fortunately, this year, there’s just one big release on Diwali. The problem is that Mumbai is the largest and most important territory for both Marathi and Hindi films. Our audiences get divided. I didn’t want to clash with an SRK film. I respect him a lot and he is my idol, but my film was delayed. It was earlier to release on October 2 and then the Lok Sabha elections and Vidhan Sabha elections rolled around. That’s why we postponed the release date.
The only saving grace is that there is no other big Hindi film releasing during the week after Diwali, so we might have a clear run the next week. Had we postponed it further, we would have clashed with other biggies like PK Last year too, Duniyadari’s release coincided with Chennai Express. So I think SRK is more a lucky charm for me than a threat! (Laughs)
The last time I interviewed you, you said you would make your Hindi directorial debut if a big production house backed you. Are you ready to take the plunge?
I have spent 25 years in the Marathi film industry. First, as a cinematographer and now as a director, and I am very happy with the recognition I have got so far. My last few films have put me in a league where I don’t have to hanker behind top stars. I have proved my mettle at the box office and so actors and technicians are willing to work with me.
I am in no hurry to jump into Bollywood. I just want to make films in peace. I have built a reputation through sheer hard work. If I make the move to Hindi films, I will have to build my reputation from scratch. I want to enjoy more acclaim in Marathi cinema right now. Slow and steady wins the race and I choose quality over quantity.