A meaningful approach

Veteran actor

Popular as Nana Phadnavis in the Marathi play Ghashiram Kotwal, actor, theatre artiste and doctor, Mohan Agashe wears many hats. Not many can fuse passion and profession but Mohan Agashe is one of those who has been able to successfully translate his expertise in psychiatry into a love for films.

The actor, who was in the City to showcase his short film festival ‘The Way We Live’, which is based on disability, says “I was a member of the jury in the ‘International Short Film Festival’ on disability in 2001. When I saw those films, they really touched me. I thought there is a huge gap in India for these kind of films and we need to fill it.”
Agashe was the one who introduced GRIPS theatre in India and today, the group performs across the country on hard-hitting subjects which affect children. “We don’t choose subjects which portray fantasy, we choose subjects which affect children like lack of playgrounds, drugs etc. The digital media has made the art of making movies a very inexpensive affair and today you might not have a pen, but you will definitely have a phone and a camera. If one has a good idea, one can shoot a movie on the mobile phone. The audio-visual medium has made inroads into our lives to a great extent,” he details.

He adds that films are a good way to smuggle information and good story-telling can be done with image and sound. “What was interesting in these short films on disability was that they had a very fresh take on the subject. They portrayed disability in a very normal space. I had visited a school which had hearing and speech-impaired children.        They seemed to be leading a very normal life, playing with each other, joking and sharing stories. I felt as if I was the odd one out there,” he notes.
“The education system in our country is biased towards cognitive development. We learn to read and write but the tradition of oral learning that was very popular earlier, has completely vanished. This has had an effect on the Indian cinema as well when it came to portraying intense emotions. Earlier, we either turned away or expressed the emotions by breaking into songs. Today, we almost lunge at each other when it comes to portraying these emotions. It is important to sub-text emotions as the Indian community is by and large very emotional. Bollywood films today are like opium which preserve our social sleep,” he explains.

Ask him about the audience in Bangalore and he says that they are very mature and it is quite a rich city when it comes to culture. “The rich cultural and folk traditions that are found here can be compared to Maharashtra and these two states have had parallel growths in theatre,” he says.

   Though he is appreciative about the young crop of directors in Bollywood, he says that they are very few who are doing good work and it has always been like that. For now, he is all set to create waves with his short-film
festival.

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