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The ardour of Nagraj Manjule

A still from Sairat  

It’s a great turn-of-the-year news for Marathi cinema. Young filmmaker Nagraj Manjule’s second feature film, Sairat , has been picked up for Berlinale, aka the Berlin International Film Festival 2016.

Ask Manjule about the film and you realise it’s quite similar to and yet radically different from his multi award-winning, critically acclaimed, hard-hitting debut Fandry , about a much oppressed family of pig catchers living on the very margins of rural Maharashtra.

Like Fandry , it’s a rural setting in Sairat too, a village called Bitter. “I shot it in my own village, Jeur, in Sholapur district,” says Manjule. Much like Fandry , it is also a young film and has young adults as the main protagonists. However, unlike the illustrious predecessor, where love was one of the many elements in the tale, Sairat is a full blown, passionate love story. “Love is such a simple thing but it has turned complicated in these times. It has become difficult to find love, to love somebody,” says Manjule.

The film’s title itself is self-explanatory. Sairat means passion, zeal and ardour. “The word can have both positive and negative connotations,” says Manjule, depending on which side of the coin you’d prefer to look at. “For you, it might imply freedom of thought, liberation and progressive ideas but to another person, it could be mean sheer wildness and recklessness,” says Manjule.

Manjule had started writing Sairat much before Fandry but was not satisfied with the way the script was turning out. “Since I was not getting a hang of how to tell the tale, I decided to keep it aside for a while,” he recollects. Then he began writing it again after the release of Fandry and wrapped up the script in December last year. He shot the film over a 70-day schedule between February and May this year, unusually long for a Marathi film. It’s because it’s a complex film. “There are lots of locations, a huge number of characters and many complicated crowd scenes,” says Manjule.

He claims that he has tried to give the film a fresh visual narrative, a complete break away from Fandry . “I have tried to turn it into very loveable story-telling, there is a new style of narration altogether,” he says. Another radical departure has been the music. There were no songs in Fandry but about 5-6 in Sairat , composed by the popular team of Ajay-Atul. “The music is beautiful. I have been listening to it for a year, at various stages, ever since we have started working on the film. I haven’t yet got tired or bored of the compositions, they are so good,” says Manjule.


In keeping with his personal inclination Manjule has used non-actors in Sairat , who are facing the camera for the first time and has cast himself in the film, “though in a much smaller role than in Fandry ,” he laughs. And what about the caste issues which he anyhow feels strongly about? “Caste is the foundation of our society, discrimination is in the air we breathe. These are our realities,” he says. So how could they not inform his film?

Says he: “I didn’t include them deliberately but could not have avoided them either.” Manjule plans on an all-India release for the film in the first week of April.

The filmmaker says he has tried to give the film a fresh visual narrative, a break away from Fandry

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 9:29:08 PM |

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