His directorial debut, Dombivli Fast, portraying an individual’s fight against the system and corruption, was screened at the London Film Festival, which ended on Thursday. He talks to DNA about the success of his film and its response in the international arena.
How did the idea of the film come about?
Having been born and brought up in Mumbai, it was easy for me to relate to the problems of the city. I wanted to make a film, which would identify the universal middle-class set-up, irrespective of the city or country. I had this fantasy where somebody would retaliate against injustice and that’s how the idea of Dombivli Fast came about.
Tell us about the budget and getting finance for the film.
The budget was like that of any other Marathi film — 50 to 60 lakhs. We completed shooting in 32 days but post-production took four months. I met nearly 10 producers with the script. They felt it did not have commercial sensibility. Finally we got a producer and managed to make the film.
The film has been screened at the London film festival. How does it feel?
It is a fantastic honour. There are very few Indian films that are selected, so I am happy that my film belongs to the top bracket.
What has been the international reaction to the film?
They had a packed show at the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. The goras cried while watching my film with popcorn and alcohol in their hands. There was a question-answer session after the screening, which lasted for 90 minutes.
They had so many questions, how is Mumbai, how are the trains, etc. When I told them that I was inspired by Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and Joel Schumacher’s Falling Down, they said, “No, don’t say that. This is your film about your city.”
It was the only film, which was forced to have a repeat screening by the audience. A 400-capacity theatre filled quickly and half the crowd had to go back. They were forced to have a second screening on the last day. I got a similar response in Dubai and Italy. In Stuttgart, Germany, the film got a standing ovation. There are also several blogs talking about the film.
Did you expect such a response?
I made a film without trying to create history. The response that I go worldwide made me realise that language is not a barrier. I just made an honest film and never thought it would become such a big hit. The set of problems might be different in different countries, but society and the common man remain the same.
Do you believe Marathi cinema is going global?
I believe you are on the world cinema scene if you are at film festivals in Berlin, Cannes or Venice. The effort has certainly begun. People realise we exist, but we haven’t created our own space as yet. We don’t have an audience.
It finally boils down to numbers and business. It would be wrong to portray that we are going global.
Any future plans?
I am planning on directing a few Hindi films. After winning 32 awards at all levels for Dombivli Fast, I am over the excitement.