Mahendra Kadam, the creator of the successful Marathi reality shows Home Minister and Hasya Samraat, is stepping into filmdom with his debut Marathi feature Superstar.
“Like any director who steps into showbiz, my goal was to direct a feature film,” said Kadam. “But I wanted to wait it out until I had a good story in place.”
But he had finalised the lead actors even before he got the story in place.
“For a debutant director, the comfort level with his crew is extremely important,” he said. “Having worked with Paddy Kamble and Siddharth Jadhav in the past, I knew these were my actors.”
Both actors are known for their comic timing and Kadam was convinced that they would make an interesting pair.
“The idea for the film came from my experience of working with talented stage actors in villages during Hasya Samraat,” he said.
“Naturally talented stage actors would get very conscious when they faced the camera, which got me thinking about how a change in the medium affects performers.”
Superstar revolves around two friends who are Tamashaa artistes, Baja and Ranga, and explores how their relationship gets affected by success and failure.
“We have all seen how the dynamics of jodis change in the film industry. At some point, prejudices and complexes complicate things,” he said.
Doesn’t this sound a tad serious for a Siddharth-Paddy film?
“The film is not at all an out-and-out comedy,” explained Kadam. “The audience might find some laughter inducing moments, but they won’t see Paddy or Siddharth trying hard to make them laugh.”
He, however, admitted that the comedy in his film has shades of Children of Heaven and Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights.
“The audience might find some scenes comical in spite of a melancholic undercurrent,” he said, adding that he has made a sincere effort to let each character grow and evolve during the course of the film.
He said every strand of comedy, drama and performance has been woven together to create an enjoyable film. “We struggled to cut our promos because each scene is so deeply intertwined with the other!” he said.
He has also roped in Nikhil Ratnaparkhi, a choosy yet versatile actor, to play a film director.
“All my television work so far has been rather frivolous because that’s what TV as a medium demands,” he said. “Since Nikhil is choosy, I was a bit worried if he would want to work on our film. But he did. A film is not about a fabulous director or fabulous stars or fabulous stories. It is about a fabulous mix of performance, direction and story. Here is an honest story, a stellar cast in a sincere effort to entertain.”
At the same time, Kadam does not believe in totally serious films or mindless comedies, a trend Marathi cinema has been suffering from but is slowly changing.
“Working in reality television taught me that human beings don’t always laugh or always cry,” he said. “Similarly, cinema should have a mix of both. And to expect the audience to keep their brain aside while watching a film is just not right.”
Kadam, who comes from a theatre background and naturally tends to weave together reality with fiction, has a Hindi film script ready.
“I wanted to make my first film without any compromises,” he said. “Basically, the amount that funds a small-budget Hindi film can fund a big-budget Marathi film. And you’re catering to smaller yet niche audience when you’re making regional cinema. My focus is to progress towards Hindi cinema and not rush.”
Superstar releases on 27 May, 2011.