Lalit Marathe wields the megaphone for a tale of an intense woman rebel

Writer Lalit Marathe knew he would direct one day but didn't know that the opportunity would come calling so early. His debut project Shabri starring Isha Koppikar , about a female crime lord is all set to hit the theatres on the August 26. “Ramgopal Varma is a fascinating technician and he has a knack of identifying talent. I had written for Bhoot and Sarkar earlier and when I started working on this script and parts of it were taking shape, he suggested that I handle it. I too felt I should deal with it, because of the intensity of the character but for someone like me who's never directed a shot earlier, this did come as a surprise,” says Lalit who is from Mumbai. Earlier, Marathe had done a lot of television writing, translating plays of Vijay Tendulkar from Marathi to English before eventually landing his maiden writing project with Ashustosh Gowarikar for Swades.

The plot for Shabri is about a girl from a slum simply taking care of her family until her brother lands in trouble. When her innocent brother gets into bad company and falls into police custody, accused of crime and later found lying dead on a road, she chooses to avenge the injustice.However the main story begins when a series of incidents leads her into becoming the matka underworld don . Lalit denounces the talk that it bears similarities with Godmother; matka was explored in Arjun and Ankush but no other film had dealt it the way that he did.

One also hears that Isha Koppikar was given a deglamorised look in the film and the director explains the reason: “The thought triggered from mythology. When Shabri tasted the fruit to feed Ram, she was trying to protect him from the bitterness. Similarly Iesha is taking in life's bitterness.”

A lot of people would identify with this story feels Lalit and recollects a person from Hyderabad telling him, after seeing the trailers, that the film would be a sure shot hit in Andhra Pradesh as they welcomed Rakta Charitra too. He adds, “Women will root for her meanness as they start connecting with her, it will be liberating. You will discover layers in her character ...sensitive, caring, a compassionate sister and a responsible lover. All my female assistants wanted to grab guns during the shoot. It's a personal story of a woman who needs to express herself – at times raising her voice or reaching the Shabri moment i.e. resorting to violence.