Interview with Marathi film "Y" Writer & Director Mr. Ajit Wadikar
1. What motivated you to write this story?
Answer : I basically hail from a region called Marathwada in Maharashtra. Around in the 90s, unfortunately, Marathwada had become the hub of sex-selective abortions and such activities. People used to come from all around the country to do so. That was the time when PCPNDT Act was not being implemented that gravely. When I started my practice as a doctor, I started coming across such mentalities and the supply side of the same. And also the gravity of the issue and its far reaching impacts. It was an upsetting moment for me as a human. During those days I was an avid film watcher, but my process of transferring myself into a filmmaker was nurturing gradually. So I decided to express my concern and worry through the language I knew, the visual language of cinema. And eventually 'Y' started happening. Though the circumstances were the main motivation behind me to act on it, it later took 11 years to shape the final script as the extent of such a heinous issue was so very deep into the minds of individuals around.
2. As a Doctor, do you feel this kind of story should come forward and should be focused on?
Answer: In fact, I would say, any story which has good content, a good message, entertainment, and which can contribute something as an art, to society should get a good focus. Y has got everything in this context. And as a doctor I would say, Y deals with a very important and grave issue that has been ignored and overlooked for decades. And now the entire society is facing the aftermaths of the same. I felt it was very much necessary to address it and spread the word about it. As a doctor I would say, any story which deals with humanity and society should come forward the same way as 'Y' has done here.
3. Was Mukta Barve your first preference for the film?
Answer: Certainly. She was always the first choice for the film. Rather I would say she was the only choice for the film. The thing is, I have closely observed her as an actor, the way she portrays her characters, the intensity she brings into her characters, and basically the way she perceives the script, the understanding and aspects she gathers about the script and the characters. The character in Y, is quite layered, it also has an arc of continuous transformation. So we needed an actor who could understand and live that character to the fullest. So I was sure no one except Mukta would give right justice to this character what we had conceived. And you are seeing the results, as a viewer I will say, this is one of her best performances all the time for sure.
4. As your first film, how is your experience about Marathi film industry?
Answer: No doubt the entire industry was always supportive to me. Though I was never a part of this industry nor I had any distant relation to the same. When I started working on this film, it happened to meet many people who were a part of this so called commercial industry. But all of them supported me, guided me on the commercial and other aspects of the film making. Even on creative front, people helped me a lot, the technical things that I had never come across to as a filmmaker I got to learn from these people as well. I would certainly like to add that, for our 'I support Y' campaign during promotions of the film, many stalwarts from the industry came forward volunteerly, they supported Y and the cause. Right from the senior stalwarts to today’s younger generation in the industry, everyone supported Y. And I will proudly say, this has never happened before in the history. The entire industry had come forward to support a film, and that was Y. It was an extraordinary moment.
5. Do you think the story matters in any film, or can we make it interesting through actors?
Answer: Story or the script is always an entire soul of the film. I think no actor can make a film interesting if there is no soul in the film. Actors do make a difference, but they are like a body of the film. But the script makes the film live. It gives life to the the journey of the film. A good script and good performances always compliments each other eventually in the process, but script comes at the first place when it comes to the film to come alive as an experience for the viewers.
6. What was Prajakta Mali’s first reaction after listening to the script?
Answer: As we are saying this is a hyperlinked film, so in such films, multiple stories happen in a same timeline and space. On paper when you get to read such scripts, one can find it complex at times to visualise. In Prajakta’s case, during the very first reading we had narrated Prajakta only her part of the film and not the entire script. And she was not very sure about how it was all going to look on the screen. We had two more sessions of reading and discussions later on. Gradually she started getting the script, the narrative, the graph and importance of her character in the film. At the end of our third meeting she was absolutely sure that she is doing ‘Y’.
7. Your stand about promotions and PR? How much PR is important?
Answer: PR and promotions nowadays have become quite an essential part of a film release. Basically this is a new world of information and entertainment. Life has become fast; we have the entire world at our fingertips in our smartphones. Social medias are all the time around chasing us, Even if we get a second free, we utilize it into them. All the type of information, entertainment and mind investing data keep flowing towards us all the time. We have so much around to choose from, so we often start filtering it. In such scenario, it becomes very crucial to convey about a film to the people, to the masses. Especially in the cases of regional films, as they have less budgets for PRs comparatively. In today’s world, taking a film to the viewers is altogether a different science than making a film. But yeah, it has turned an important aspect of filmmaking in recent world of information and entertainment on fingertips.
8. Your next film as per genre?
Answer: I personally have a great fascination for thrillers. Though I am an avid film-watcher, but given a choice I prefer thrillers. I feel thrillers work better as a storyteller, as they keep the viewers hooked and engaged all the time. So definitely I would like to go for a thriller again as my next. We are working on a couple of scripts already. I will say every story choses its genre and shapes up accordingly. So once those are ready, I will be able to tell you exactly what genre I am going for in my next.
9. Any message to the audience?
Answer: Indian cinema is certainly growing nowadays. Especially the regional cinema, filmmakers are coming up with new ideas, doing new experiments. New narratives are being found, and a good content based cinema is being made. Since the rise of the OTT platforms, new benchmarks of good cinema are being set with every new film. So it is becoming a challenge for all of us filmmakers to reach to that peak and standard. 'Y' is that honest effort which has raised bars and set new standards in Marathi cinema. So I will appeal all the audiences to go and watch 'Y' in theaters, and all such films those are rich in content as well as in rich in entertainment at the same time.