A 'silent' tribute to Dadasaheb Phalke

A 'silent' tribute to Dadasaheb Phalke

Marathi filmmaker talks about his silent film with Vijay Sethupathi

Director Kishor Pandurang Belekar with Tamil superstar Vijay Sethupathi.

A silent film, directed by Kishor Pandurang Belekar, pays tribute to Gandhi with dark humour.

Kishor, who works primarily in the Marathi film industry, is producing the film in Hindi. Divay Dhamija, known for his work in Hindi serials, is its creative producer. 

Starring Tamil superstar Vijay Sethupathi, the film uses humour to remind us of the significance of Gandhian values. He has released a poster that created a buzz online.

People have forgotten Mahatma Gandhi the philosophical thinker, and are constantly running after currency notes with Gandhi on them, he says.

In a chat with Showtime, Belekar says he has worked on the project for 19 years.

What inspired you to make a silent film?

I always wanted to make a silent film as an ode to the late Dadasaheb Phalke. I am a theatre person. In theatre, reaction speaks louder than action, and in audio-visual media, visuals contribute more to storytelling than sound. By cutting out the audio, the visuals get enhanced. I have used silence as the language of the film.

What made you cast Sethupathi?

I have seen Vijay Sethupathi’s films. Not only is he a phenomenal actor but in each of his films, he tries to break his own image. In Bollywood, people are not experimental. They care a bit too much about their image. I needed a gutsy actor who would take up the challenge of acting in an unconventional film.

How was it to work with him?

He is a simple, down-to-earth person and has a superb working style. Despite being a huge star in the Southern film industry, he is not filmy. He is a powerhouse performer, of course. It is a privilege to direct him and watch him perform.

Does the film render a narrative on Gandhi?

I am an admirer of Gandhi, and I value his thoughts. But this film has nothing to do with Gandhi directly. However, the title of the film is a metaphor to depict the harsh reality of today’s times. Gandhi’s talks before independence caused miracles. Today, Gandhi is present only on our currency. He still talks but unfortunately, today, he is a prime witness of everything that he stood against.

Any roadblocks while the making of the film?

Many. Many disheartening and demoralising interactions happened over the course of making this film. Whenever I spoke to big producers and actors, they laughed at me and didn’t take me seriously. For the last seven to eight years, I struggled with casting. There are absolutely no dialogues in the film. There is a background score, but the verbal language is absent. I struggled in every aspect of making this film.