Indian cinema not just about Bollywood: Amol Palekar
Last Updated: Saturday, September 05, 2009, 09:13
Ankita Shukla

New Delhi: From being the man who introduced us to and won us over with his simple common man act in 'Golmaal', 'Gharonda' and 'Baaton Baaton Mein', to being a social filmamaker with 'Daayra' and 'Kairi' in his kitty; as well as being a magician who carved a specatcular fantasy like saga on 70 mm in the form of the less succesful but widely appreciated 'Paheli', Amol Palekar has surely come a long way.

A national award winner, Palekar, who was in town recently to promote his acting comeback of sorts 'Samaantar', which has been helmed by him, in an exclusive interview with Ankita Shukla of, talked about his return as an actor, Bollywood's monopoly, his love for regional cinema as well as his latest venture.

Excerpts from the interview:

Ankita:You're making your acting comeback with 'Samaantar', a Marathi flick. How does it feel.

Amol: Yes it's been long. It was for 'Ankahee' (1985) that I had performed all three roles- actor, director, producer last and now it's 'Samaantar'.

Ankita: What is the film all about?

Amol: 'Samaantar' is the story of a 60-year-old man, Keshav Vaze (played by me), who in spite of earning a lot of wealth, feels the pinch of loneliness in his autumnal years.

Ankita:Why did you choose Marathi as a medium? Don't you think it is going to restrict your comeback?

Amol: Well I intend to take the film beyond the usual Marathi-speaking audience, and that's purely why I am here (in Delhi). My focus is more on making a good, sensitive film. If it's good it will be seen anyway. Marketing is not one of my strong points, my work ends with the film but yes I would want everone to see it as it is a film for the people and by the people.

Ankita:Was it tough making a Marathi flick?

Amol: Making Marathi films is quite a task, the main reason being the fact that we also have to compete with Hindi mainstream films. Mumbai is the most difficult place for a regional filmmaker to survive. A big budget Hindi film spends Rs7-10 crore only on television promotions. I can make as many as three films in that much money. But then the battle is won when people want to see your product. So, since there is an audience for Marathi flicks, I will continue making them.

Ankita:Do you think regional cinema in India has come of age?

Amol: I think regional films present the true picture of India. Good regional cinema is more binding as there can be a lot of experimentation on that front. Bollywood films are not the end of Indian cinema.

Ankita: You are teaming up with Sharmila Tagore after a span of thirty long years, how was it like working with her again?

Amol: (Smiles) I guess both of us have managed to retain the charm of old times. The sensibilities have remained the same, just the process of film-making has changed a lot in these thrity years. I could'nt imagine anyone but Sharmila playing the role of Shama. So, one fine day I just picked up the phone and asked Sharmila if she would be my heroine. She replied that as I had invaded her cinema long back, it was her turn to do the same with me!

Ankita: Do you think that meaningful cinema is back?

Amol: I believe there was always a huge appetite for different genre of movies. If Amitabh Bachchan-Manmohan Desai films were popular, so were Amol Palekar-Hrishikesh Mukherjee films and that is the case even today.

Ankita:There has been an evoked interest in India's performance at Oscars since Lagaan got nominated in top 5 and AR Rahman got us the laurels. Do you think Oscars are that important?

Amol: Oscars are important for they are a proof on the acceptance of Indian cinema in the West but, personally speaking, I would rate a national award higher than an Oscar as one is only successful when one can be accepted in one's own country. Once that happens the rest of the world will follow naturally as if you're good, you're good.

First Published: Saturday, September 05, 2009, 09:13

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