I’m sure there will be another film soon that will break Sairat’s record.
In its third week, Sairat crosses 55 crores at the box office, a figure that seemed impossible in the recent past. And as we collectively celebrate this success, it does make me think of our journey so far. By ‘we’ I mean the Marathi film industry and the Marathi viewers, as it has been a collective effort with each supporting the other to excel. From award winning films like ‘Killa’, ‘Fandry’, ‘Court’ and box office spinners like ‘Duniyadari’, ‘Time-Pass’, ‘Lai Bhaari’, ‘Elizabeth Ekadashi’, ‘Double Seat’, ‘Katyar Kaljat Ghusali’, ‘Natsamrat’ and now ‘Sairat’, Marathi cinema has seen it all in a span of just 3 years. What made this possible? How have films done so well with each breaking the box office records set by the previous one within a span of 5 to 6 months? Some would say that it has been possible due to great marketing campaigns and distribution by Zee studios, but I feel that this kind of success wouldn’t have been possible without powerful stories and prolific story telling. Extensive marketing can get the producers a big opening weekend but only a great film can guarantee a long run at the box office making these overwhelming numbers possible.
As I see the list of films that have done well in the recent past, I realize that each and every film has a lot in common. They all have good scripts, noteworthy performances by actors, fantastic music and are brilliantly directed. But most of all, they are films which have stories that their makers have believed in, challenging age-old notions of what ‘works’. These have been stories of great struggle and greater hope. Stories that have been the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer and meaningful experience. We as film makers have always tried to decipher what the audience really want to watch in a Marathi film. And every successful film has reassured that the Marathi viewer is not really looking for grand sets, foreign locals and huge production values in the films they have loved. They have just one basic expectation, which is to connect with the story and experience the journey of its characters as if it’s their own.
This is the reason why we feel the pain of Jabya as he whirls the stone towards us in Fandry.
The reason why we are as helpless as Narayan Kamble as he stands in Court.
The reason we smile when Shreyas and DSP share a cigarette.
The reason we cheer as Mauli stands up against the tyrant in Lai Bhari.
The reason we weep as Appa Belwakar makes his grand exit in Natsamrat
And the reason we look within our souls as we exit the auditorium in shock while the credits roll at the end of Sairat.
The real appeal of Marathi films has always been its stories that are rooted to its culture and deal with local sensibilities and social intricacies. While the Hindi Film Industry has continued to make waves at the box office depending on its larger than life films and with the star power of Khans and Kapoors, Marathi film industry has risen to prominence and delivered time and again with its strong content. And all this has only been possible due to the overwhelming support of the audience that has stood by the great content driven films. The Marathi viewers have always supported good art, and I feel the present-day film makers are in sync with the cultural milieu and aspirations of the audience.
Now that Sairat inches towards 60 cr at the box office I am sure there will be another film soon that will cross Sairat’s record and that day isn’t far when Marathi films will touch the 100 cr mark. So as a film maker when I ask myself what next? The only true answer is to keep making good films and good films must tell good stories. And that reminds me writing Guru Robert McKee’s advice to all film makers –
‘Good story means a tale worth telling that the world wants to hear. Finding this is your lonely task… but the love of a good story, of terrific characters and a world driven by your passion, courage and creative gifts is still not enough. Your first and only goal must be a good story well told.’
-Written By Aditya Sarpotdar (Director)