Paresh Mokashi, the director of Harishchandrachi Factory India s official entry to the Oscars this year looks like any other ordinary man. His feats though; are extraordinary- Harishchandrachi Factory is his first film as a film maker and is already creating a buzz. Mokashi has won the Best Director award for this film in Pune International Film festival and Maharashtra state Film awards. He bares his heart to Divya Naik about his first film ¦
How did Harishchandarchi factory happen?
I basically started off as a backstage worker in a theatre group in Pune. I acted in some children s plays. In 1999, I joined Prithvi theatre and directed my first play Debuchya Muli . It handled humor in a different style. In 2005, I read the biography of Dadasaheb Phalke by Shri Bapu Vatve and the idea to make a film on him struck me. I did a lot of research on him and his work at the National Film Archive. It took me 60 shooting days to make the movie. The script was completed in March 2005 and the film was completed in December 2005.
Harishchandrachi factory concentrates on the years that Phalke made his film Raja Harishchandra – 1911 to 1914. I didn t mean to cover his biography. I wanted to concentrate on the making of Raja Harishchandra .
We know that Phalke made a film. But we are unaware of the toil and passion that he put into making that film. Phalke owned a printing business. He was poor and unemployed. One fine day, when he came across a tent theatre the idea of making a film struck him. He mortgaged his house and sold his household things and collected money. He read up a lot on cinematic techniques and made Raja Harishchandra . He made three films in a period of two years.
The special effects and techniques used by him were astounding. In fact, the British were so impressed with his work they offered him 1,000 pounds to make movies for them. However, he refused the offer as he wanted to establish the cinema industry in India and make movies here.
You come from a theatre background. How did you learn the nuances of direction and film making?
I did not go to any film school. All the knowledge that I have of films is from watching a lot of world cinema. I did my schooling in Lonavla and I earned a BA degree from a Pune college. It was during my college years that I watched a lot of Hollywood movies. I frequently visited the FTII and National film archive.
I still do not have any technical knowledge. But, as a director, the most important thing is that you need to know what you want on the screen irrespective of the technical details.
What was the experience while making Harishchandrachi Factory ?
It was madness and stubbornness that kept me ticking all the while. I realized that you need to be really stubborn and focused or else others take over you. On the very first day itself others took over me and the result that I got was entirely different from what I had visualized. I had to re-shoot the entire material again.
What was the most challenging part of making Harishchandrachi Factory ?
Recreating the era that Phalke belonged to was the toughest thing. It was difficult to find apt locations, design the sets and costumes, get the dialect right, etc. We shot in a bungalow in Pune, Manori beach, Nitin Desai studios, Mukesh mills and in Girgaon.
Though the film is in Marathi, the fact that the film won many awards from South and many other parts of India as also it participated in BAFTA and Golden Globe restored my confidence and belief in the film.
What is so unique about Harishchandrachi Factory ?
Though the movie is about one man and his journey, I have avoided biographical picturization which includes sepia tone, black and white colour or moving camera. All those are clichd elements. I have kept the story as simple and humorous as possible. There is no drama and emotional conflict. It is a positive tale based on the One rasa theory of film making which has been used on films like Life is beautiful .
People fail to understand that humor is of many kinds and that it can be used for many other purposes apart from entertainment. It all depends on your style and sticking to your style.
Also, I have used the still frame technique of camera. It hopefully will turn out to be a sleek and compact experience.
Why did you name the film Harishchandrachi Factory ?
Phalke called his set up as a factory. He said that he was making a drama on screen as people didn t understand what he was doing. Also, those days factories and mills were popular workplaces. Hence he called his set a factory. Another motive behind it was that people involved in film making business would be termed as mad . Hence to avoid embarrassment of those involved with him, he termed it a factory.
You had to mortgage your property to make this film. You had to go through a lot of financial turmoil. What is your take on that?
Doing something offbeat has its own glamour. Everybody liked my script initially but nobody was ready to finance it because they realized it is costly. The budget was 4 crores. To add to that it was a big risk to finance it as I was a first time director and had no knowledge of direction. All I had done was watched a lot of movies.
People who were ready to finance it wanted to make the film in Hindi with song-dance sequences and big stars. But any first time film maker has to go through these obstacles and counter them. I have no complaints about any of these things.
I gave the film to UTV because it showed interest in my movie from the beginning. I have not sold the movie to them though; I am equally a partner even now.
Did you want to convey a message through the film?
Phalke was a scientific and eccentric person. The usual perception of Phalke is that of a common man who did uncommon things. But in the film I have treated his character to be a light hearted person. Hence the message of the film is that average and powerless people can also do extraordinary things.
What is your next project?
I have three ideas in my mind- a science-fiction adventure, an archaeological adventure and a story of the struggle of a poor family.
Will you ever be going back to theatre?
Of course! I will be going back to theatre immediately after the release of Harishchandrachi factory . I will make films later. But my passion remains researching ancient history.
What is cinema to you?
Buying a movie ticket and watching a movie in a movie theatre!