Monday, August 07, 2006

Getting hold of a new medium

Permission to reproduce this article has to be obtained from Hindustan Times

A dentist is the producer of a hit Marathi film

Shevlin Sebastian

The last thing on Dr Uday Tamankar’s mind as he talks in his dental clinic at Lokhandwala is teeth. Instead, he is talking films. It is easy to understand his enthusiasm: His first Marathi film, as a producer, Kya Dyacha Bola, directed by Chandrakant Kulkarni, has celebrated its silver jubilee. In fact, it is in its 28th week at Pune. In Mumbai, it ran for 13 weeks. “If a Marathi film runs for four weeks in Mumbai, it is considered a hit,” says Tamankar. So not only has the first-time producer recovered his investment, but he has made a profit.
Tamankar has been a dentist for the past 23 years and has built a successful practice. He wanted to make movies ever since he was a teenager but his parents insisted he become a doctor. So he became a dentist but then “one day I realised 15 years had gone past,” he says. So, he decided to fulfill his dream of producing a Marathi film. It needed an investment of Rs 40 lakh and he decided he would invest his savings, instead of taking a loan. “I know of many Marathi film producers who took loans and made movies and it flopped and they fell into a deeper hole,” he says.
Tamankar could also have fallen into a deeper hole if you hear about his experiences in the early days. “The first day of shooting was scheduled for July 28, 2005 in Film City, Goregaon,” he says. “Now, you know that what happened on July 26. The shooting was postponed by two days. Luckily, our crew was staying in Goregaon East, so they could come easily for the shoot.”
But on the first day, there were 80 people present and they had no work to do because there was no electricity. They tried desperately to get a generator but all the generators were in use all over the city because of the power breakdown owing to the floods. “So the people were waiting and I had to provide them with lunch and dinner and pay their salaries,” he says. “And I was thinking to myself, ‘from the first day, I am getting sunk in spending money and no work being done’. But luckily, at a construction site nearby, there was a generator. They were not using it because their workers had not been able to report for work. So, in the end, I lost about ten hours.”
But the unit was so co-operative, they worked the whole night, to make up for the lost time, and finished shooting only at 4 a.m. “It was then I realised there are so many good people in the film industry,” says Tamankar. “They understood the importance of money even though I remember reading in glossy magazines how stars have wasted the money of producers with their extravagant demands.”
So, was he surprised that his film turned out to be a hit? “For a movie to be a hit, you only need two things: a good director and a good story,” says Tamankar. But it took him some time to find a quality story. He read stories for six months and rejected all of them. Then a cousin, based in America, called him up and asked him to see the Hollywood film, My Cousin Vinny. (Plot summary from “Bill and Stan are mistaken for murderers while on vacation, and Bill's family sends his cousin Vinny to defend them for his first case as a lawyer. Vinny, a brash New Yorker took six tries to pass his bar exam.”)
Tamankar saw and liked the film and felt that it could be adapted to Marathi but with one difference: Instead of the lawyer going from a town to a rural set-up, in Kya Dyacha Bola, the hero-lawyer would go from a village in Maharashtra to Mumbai. “Essentially, it is a comedy of two youths implicated in a murder case and how the village lawyer, who is pitted against a sophisticated prosecutor, wins the case,” he says.
So where does he go from here? Tamankar breaks into a wide smile and says, “I have tasted blood. I am going to produce another movie.” He has been looking at scripts but has not found one that he likes. “Anyway, I have time till the monsoons end, because there can be no shooting now,” he says.
Asked what tips he will give his fellow producers, who have not had a hit in years, his advice is succinct: “The story is the hero of the movie. Pay attention to it and you will be successful.”

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