By Aasawari Shenolikar :
Commenting on his debut Hindi film that has Rakul Preet Singh as the lead who will essay the role of a condom tester, Tejas, who will be directing the film says that one should not judge the film only because the leading lady is a condom tester. “Our film is a social family entertainer, which aims at destigmatising the use of condoms and I always believed that Rakul was best suited to shoulder the film. Having seen her work, I can vouch and say that she brings freshness to every role that she portrays and with a sensitive, thought- provoking subject like this, she was our first choice.”
Films are not only the most potent but also the most popular medium of looking at the world. With the lens capturing the essence of life, translating it in images so that it becomes universally accessible, films truly are a reflection of life and its lessons. Till not so long, we flocked to the theatres for the magical experience of living the characters on the big screen. With the pandemic shutting everything down, it were the OTT platforms that came to the rescue of those seeking entertainment. “People had no option but to switch to OTT, and it’s amazing how the medium thrived in just over a year and a half,” says Tejas Prabha Vijay Deoskar, noted Marathi filmmaker, who, after creating his own niche in the Marathi film industry, is stepping into the hallowed realm of Hindi film industry under the banner of RSVP headed by Ronnie Screwvala, who is known for backing many pathbreaking projects. With changing times, the perspective of film buffs has also changed, feels Tejas and is of the opinion that it is no longer demeaning for a film to debut on the OTT platform.
“This platform is now available to scores of filmmakers and other artists to showcase their products. The medium doesn’t differentiates between big and small banners. During these tough times, OTT has efficiently served as a tool for survival of the artists in the entertainment industry. It has kept the art alive and thriving,” he states, adding that, as and when the situation improves, theatres will regain their lost glory. “Visual storytelling on the big screen is a riveting experience, and it can under no circumstances be replicated in your living rooms, howsoever big your TV screen may be. But at the same time, I am glad that in future, both the mediums will co-exist in a positive way. For it is no longer the ‘either/or’ situation. Many have developed a taste for isolation and would want to watch even big films in their own private space.”
The definition of small screen has changed and the proliferation of digital media has given rise to devices that have the power to give the cinema halls a run for their money. “What is available in the market is beyond one’s imagination, the options are innumerable, the upgradation is at a minimal cost and this will ensure that the digital market will thrive.” But at the same time Tejas is certain that the audience will reciprocate in a positive manner and throng the cinema halls once the ‘normalcy’ is firmly in place. The conversation then moves to an area which is a sensitive issue for this talented filmmaker. The youngster, who has four full length feature films (as Director) and innumerable short films to his credit has taken the bold step of stepping into the super competitive Hindi film industry. Extremely proud of the Marathmola culture and the rich content that Marathi film industry has to offer, Tejas is pained to note that these gifted filmmakers do not get credit due to them.
“In these times of globalisation that have impacted the entertainment industry and with so much foreign content available to the discerning audience, it’s a matter of concern that Marathi films still do not have a pan India reach. We are known for making soul- searching films, our stories have substance, but we need to have a wider perspective and we need to work on making our films visually appealing without compromising on the content. There is no dearth of craft, but at a time when the South Indian film industry is being lauded even by the movie buffs in North India who do not understand the language, why can’t Marathi films thrive and succeed at the national, at the international level? We have to look beyond the boundaries, accept the challenges of the film industry, mould our stories so that we find a common ground for the international audience too.” Tejas’ film Baba was nominated for the Golden Globe award, and that was a moment of pride for India.
That it didn’t see the podium finish is not what bothers Tejas. He was traumatised by the fact Baba had a soul like Will Smith’s The Pursuit of Happynesss, “but we were not able to impress the Jury. Obviously there were lacunae. We need to introspect and work in such a way that our craft and creativity has a greater world-wide appeal.” He cites the example of Tanaji, that despite being a hardcore Hindi film was steeply entrenched in Marathi culture and heritage. “And that is why it worked and went on to become a blockbuster.” The time, he says, is now right to cater to a world-wide audience. “We have potential, we have stories, why we aren’t utilising it to the fullest is what bothers me,” he laments. During his journey, Tejas, the ever optimist has embraced innumerable challenges that have come his way and he has used each challenge as an opportunity for self transformation. Which is the reason, why this brilliant craftsman, without any Godfather, continues to make waves in the world of entertainment.