Mahesh Manjrekar returns to direction after a long gap with “City of Gold”, which is based on the woes of Mumbai's mill workers
Mahesh Manjrekar is a busy man nowadays and, for a change, it's not his acting assignments that are keeping him on his toes. The National Award winning director (“Astitva” and “Vaastav”) has taken a sabbatical from donning the grease paint and is back to doing what he loves most — directing. After a long, four-year gap, he is shooting for “City Of Gold”, a real-life drama based on the woes of Mumbai's mill workers who have been waging a silent war to get back their means of livelihood with zero per cent success. As is common knowledge, a lot of mill land in the city has been replaced by high-end residential buildings, malls and multiplexes. “It's been 28 long years now and we haven't bothered to even give the mill workers a second look. I've been itching to do a film on this issue for a long time,” says Mahesh.
DAR Media Private Limited (DAR Media), the Mumbai-based subsidiary of investment advisory and private equity firm, DAR Capital Group, has backed the project as part of a three-film deal with Mahesh.
“City Of Gold”, whose cast is under wraps for now but reportedly includes a coterie of acclaimed theatre actors, is an incident-driven two-hour feature. Explaining his affinity to the subject, Mahesh says, “I grew up in Wadala (central Mumbai) where Bombay Dyeing Mills and Spring Mills were located. My friends were children of mill workers who lived their lives through those initial days of extreme turbulence. I saw them coming to terms with their situation even as their lives came crumbling down.” In 1995, when he saw a Marathi play titled “Adhantar” (‘In limbo') on the same issue by playwright Jayant Pawar, Mahesh was stirred to make a movie on it in association with Jayant. “Jayant had lived this life. He was once a mill worker who became a journalis and playwright later. He agreed to the idea,” tells Mahesh.
But had it not been for DAR Media, the idea would've remained just that. “I have been around for three years with this subject. But only about six months ago, when DAR Media approached me with the idea of doing another film, I bounced this one to them and they readily agreed.”
Besides “City Of Gold”, Mahesh is beginning a musical about the growing up years titled “FU”. “Scandalous as it may sound, I named my film so because that's the only expression that 16-17 year olds seem to know. They may say it without meaning to say it, but it is about possessing an opinionated attitude.” The subject of the third film with DAR Media is yet to be decided.
Mahesh is also writing the script for a series of films he intends to make based on various colours — White, Green and Blue. “My first, White, will be a woman-oriented theme. Each colour signifies some emotion. White is going to be about purity, serenity, death and peace. If no one else is ready to produce it, my own production house will do it,” he says with determination.