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Language no bar
Text by Sona Bahadur
Published: Volume 17, Issue 11, November, 2009

Two little big regional films create an international stir: Marathi biopic Harishchandrachi Factory, based on the making of Indiaís first motion picture by Dadasaheb Phalke, and Konkani film The Man Beyond the Bridge. Sona Bahadur in conversation with the directors

Paresh Mokashi, Harishchandrachi Factory, Indiaís entry to the Oscars

How does it feel to make a debut film on your own terms and be in the running for the Oscars?
Good. Just getting selected is bigger than the Oscars Ė we all know how tough it is to compete with 15 other solid languages in one country. They all produce good cinema. Iím pleasantly surprised. But ultimately itís a competition. Letís not get too involved in it emotionally.

Your film has tapped into a non-Maharashtrian audience. Do you see that as a major triumph for Marathi cinema?
Any good cinema goes beyond language. Many Marathi films in the past have done that. Many will do that. Iím simply happy I achieved it.

How do you describe your film-making style?

Whatís your take on the original Harishchandra film and on Phalke?
Phalkeís ideas and innovations strike us. Do you remember the pea plant clip he made? What an idea! Perhaps the only one who has shown the power of films at its fullest. Unfortunately only 40 per cent of Raja Harishchandra remains. Still it shows the unique skills of a first time film-maker.

How do you plan to get the Oscar buzz going?
Doing my homework right now. With many friends and guides by our side, we will come up with our plan soon.

Best compliment youíve got?
Non-Marathi persons saying, Ďplease dub the film in our language.í

Laxmikant Shetgoankar, The Man Beyond The Bridge, Toronto Film Festival award-winner

Your film chronicles the relationship between a mad woman and a lonely forest officer. What prompted such a unique theme?
A man meets an insane woman, develops a relationship with her and struggles to incorporate her into mainstream society Ė the entire act is heroic, especially in rural India where misconceptions about insanity are so strong. One man defies the rules. I thought the story needed to be told. The film is about loneliness, about insanity and how it is connected to our social upbringing.

What is of central importance to you as a film-maker?
A film should be honest and transparent. I strongly believe itís a medium of transformation. The transformation may not come as fast as a pizza. Often it takes months and years.

Is concern for the environment a strong theme in the film?
The Man Beyond the Bridge is like a Haiku, very simple. Itís primarily the story of love between a man and an insane woman but it opens up a world of perspectives. More than the storytelling, I strive to bring forth the deeper realities that make up the story.

Which film-makers have influenced you?
Many. Abbas Kiarostami, Jiri Menzel and Satyajit Ray among others.

Howís life looking post the triumph at Toronto Film Festival?
A prize at Toronto is a moral boost. Itís an honour that an international panel of critics has recognised an Indian film.

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