Subodh Bhave, “The heartthrob” of the Marathi film industry and country audience, choice of an actor for any new experiment with Marathi movie, Marathi TV serial or Marathi Play is the superstar of the Marathi film industry!
While some may have boxed him into the category of a biopic king, have a look at the number of projects and variety of roles like comedies, serious negative etc all types he is playing. ….
Subodh is best known for his portrayal of social reformer and freedom fighter Bal GangadharTilak in the acclaimed biopic Lokmanya-EkYugPurush (2015), and the title role in the biographical drama Bal Gandharva (2011). He has appeared in around 50 films in a career spanning well over a decade and made his directorial debut with the musical drama KatyarKaljatGhusali in 2015. His directorial debut was both a critical and commercial success, and was screened at several prestigious film festivals, including the International Film Festival of India and was one of the highest-grossing successful films of 2015. Other significant acting credits include the comedy Hapus (2010), the Bollywood romantic comedy Aiyyaa (2012), the Malayalam crime-drama Pinneyum (2016), the Marathi drama film Hrudayantar (2017), PushpakVimaan (2018) and the thriller SavitaDamodarParanjpe (2018). He has also entered into producing films with PushpakVimaan being the first Production.
Subodh bagged many awards in his basket. All awards to his directorial debut film KatyarKaljatGhusali by Filmfare in 2016 has really changed viewership of Marathi Cinema.
Dressed in a casual shirt and trousers which are remarkably unstriking, chappals on his feet and not having bothered to shave or even hide his greys, it is difficult to fathom that this is a superstar! But it is how SubodhBhave, one of the biggest names in Marathi cinema, chooses to conduct himself, placing little emphasis on the self and letting his work speak for itself.
In the current scenario, Marathi TV serial on Zee TV, Tula Pahate Re has secured the top positions on the TRP charts leaving other popular TV shows behind. Two factors, the distinctive storyline of this TV serial and SubodhBhave’s brilliant acting skills, have kept the viewers glued to the TV screen. Subodh Bhave acted as a businessman, who finds love and companionship in a girl much younger than him and all over the world, the audience is just crazy all over India and out of India about this serial.
You do not belong to any filmy family. How was your journey to movies started as an actor?
My father had a transferable job in the bank, so we have stayed at various places like Alibaug, Konkan, Pune in Maharashtra. I have enjoyed staying with my grandparents, parents and younger brother. I belong to a family having strong traditional values. During my childhood, I have learned many things from my grandparents like a good culture in the form of stories, good music. There was no connection with the “drama field” in our family. But as a child, I have participated in school annual day functions, only because my friends and family used to appreciate it. I was in the sixth standard when I joined “NatyaSanskar Kala Academy” during the summer break, that too just because my parents wanted me to join it. I learned in the academy subjects related to dramatics, right from an acting, direction, art direction, and many other things. But I spent more time on the ground till the 10th standard playing different sports.
After 10th standard, I learned various aspects of theatre, acting because of my participation in “play workshops” and of course credit goes to my parents. I acted in many one-act plays during my college days which boosted my confidence. I started with a play called “ChandrapurchyaJangalaat”, which not only gave me a few awards but critics’ recognition as well. This play taught me many things. I was totally associated with theatre and drama after that and did many one-act plays. My role in another play called AsachEk Divas gave me the first award in my life. It was a real boost for me to enter the world of glamour. I did theatre, TV serials and movies since then. SattesathiSaareKahi was my first movie.
You have worked with stage, TV Serials and movie… Which is the best medium you like and why?
I do not differentiate since I have experienced and benefitted by all three prime mediums: theatre, film and TV serials, and my approach towards them has been almost the same.
Although my career started in theatre, I could achieve “recognition” through TV serials. Cinema has always been an attraction for any actor and so to me as well.
All three mediums have strong advantages and disadvantages. You miss a big audience from the rural areas since play- shows cannot be organized very easily there. There is no guarantee about the cinema that from the first day’s shoot to production, it will be surely released and reached the audience. There is a big difference in acting in TV daily soaps (called serials) and has an advantage because viewership is all over the world. We actors can reach everyone’s home and win hearts from children to oldies just due to TV serials.
Acting is my life and I cannot stay away from it. I enjoy everything, whether it’s a theatre, TV serial, or a movie or anchoring, I am totally passionate about this.
Due to the change in entertainment mediums, the technicality changes, but not the process. Character is important in all three mediums. While portraying any character in a play, we need to remember that character. So, we can present that character to audiences along with progression in a particular sequence. Whereas in the case of cinema and TV serials, any scene can be shot in any sequence, we have to keep in mind the track of the journey of that character and act accordingly.
But all the three mediums are difficult and “acting” itself is very tough! If we understood the strength of all these three mediums, then we can enjoy acting thoroughly.
Your career started with the stage… You have not continued that?
I wish to continue acting in a play but after 50 stage shows, I myself get bored. The producer may not afford this and so, I am not acting in any play for the last five years. I am very happy to announce that I shall portray the famous character “Lalya” in a play titled AshrunchiZaliPhule : (Asu Ban Gaye Phool). But only 50 shows all over India, and abroad.
It is always said if SubodhBhave is working in any TV serial, or movie or stage, there is always content and people get dragged to see your work. How do you select the role in any movie or TV serial? Can you elaborate more on this?
When I started acting in a film or any TV serial, my intention was not to be a Hero.”! Instead, I have accepted all types or roles due to my love for acting and without that, I cannot live life. In fact, initially for many years, I portrayed roles where I could get an opportunity to present my acting skills. After acting in around 15 movies, I have danced and sung songs like a hero. I acted as the main lead in Marathi TV serial Kulvadhu. Before that, I have done all second lead characters in TV serials. In the theatre medium, I have played comedy, serious roles in a play and it was fun for me to experiment with different types of roles.
I always check before accepting any role whether I have done “that type of role” in the past. I do not like to portray stereotyped roles. I have played a broader range of roles in many movies without considering the future of that particular movie, just because I liked that particular character. I have experimented with myself a lot but I was not aware that people are going to watch just for me. Now, I am careful in selecting any role because I have earned respect in people’s eyes and cannot take them for granted.
I should be able to work till age 80 and so I have to be healthy physically and mentally both. Now, you will see that SubodhBhave who would be distinctly different after 2018.
How did you enter into direction? And why do you feel directing or producing a film by you is important?
I realized that there are many limitations as an actor. At times, there is a frustration if the movie is not accepted. Now, I have adopted a strategy just to complete shooting, dubbing for any movie and to break all the emotions attached to that movie. This gives me freshness and enthusiasm to move to do some different projects.
Things are not under control when we are working under any other director. Also, I do not like to interfere with the director’s job when I am working under any director. Now, I feel that I should produce and direct the film the way I want. This will certainly help to decide, the distribution, publicity, marketing of a film, an audience of a film, etc. I have gained that confidence in my “rational thought process”. I wish to produce such a movie which will compel the audience to think. The audience should be happy after watching my movies.
Subodh Bhave is known more to people after doing biopics. Whether it is Balgandharv, LokmanyaTilak or KashinathGhanekar …. How did the first biopic Balgandhavhappen ? and then LokmamyaTilak?
Balgandharva is a biographical Marathi film on Marathi singers and stage actors NarayanShripadRajhans, famously known as Bal Gandharva( Bal=child + Gandharva=Singer of Heaven). Incidentally, I read a novel based on the life of Balgandharv and was very impressed. There I thought, his work should be reached to the younger generation. I, myself studied about that character and approached Director Ravi Jadhav, whose debutant film Natarang won critical acclaim. And also producer Nitin Desai, the national award-winning art director. I have acted not to display my acting skills, rather just to let people know Balgandharva’s greatness and about his struggle and his work as an artist.
After looking at my performance in Balgandharv, actor SharadPonkshe gave me a novel based on the life of freedom fighter LokmanyaTilak. Again the same thing happened. I was impressed by LokmanyaTilak’s personality who was a social reformer and the freedom fighter of the Indian Independence movement. Based on his life the movie titled as Lokmanya –EkYugpurush was produced by NeenaRaut and directed Om Raut.
Subodh Bhave, dynamic, and flexible actor, you moved into the direction in 2015. The film KatyarKaljatGhusali’ (A dagger through the heart) was based on the Marathi musical play named as KatyarKaljatGhusali( 1967 ). We want to know the overall success of this film in your words.
Yes. Marathi musical plays were popular with their music and then those plays were actually watched by the audience for their music. I always used to think KatyarKaljatGhusali should be made into a film and I was successful in doing a film based on that play. This movie’s content itself is it’s USP and many other USPs like music by music- director Shankar Ehssan Loy, a major role of Khan Sahib played by SachinPilgaonkar and first-time Shankar Mahadevan acted in any movie. There was no movie produced in any language based on classical music. I feel proud to mention here that this movie and film’s music really forced people to watch non-Marathi people also. SachinPilgaonkar has played the role of Khansaheb and spoke in Urdu. The film is selected as one of the 26 films to be screened in Goa at the 46th International Film Festival of India. The movie is also being considered for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) Fellini medal.
Your Diwali gift in 2018 for the audience was your superhit movie Ani… Dr. KashinathGhanekar, based on Dr. KashinathGhanekar, the first superstar of the Marathi stage with a lot of glamour, and he was the highest-paid star from the years 1960 to 1980. He appeared in Marathi films in the 1960s and also Hindi movies such as Abhilasha and DadiMaa. Please elaborate on the movie’s success.
Dr. KashinathGhanekar was a legend in the Marathi industry and is not popular among the younger generation. Ghanekar was substance in whatever he spoke. During 1960-80, Marathi theatre was booming just because of him. I was not going to do any biopic after Lokmanyabut, to play such a role is dream come true and I was fortunate to get this film. Director Abhijeet Deshpande had done detailed research on Dr. Ghanekar’s life and was having more clarity. It was challenging and tough to play Dr. KashinathGhanekar. I had to convince myself and I was that person who was a difficult task. Yes. It is appreciated by the audience all over India. Again this is watched by a non-Marathi audience.
“Aani… Dr. KashinathGhanekar” and the big-ticket Hindi film Thugs Of Hindostan were released in the same week on the same day. Film “Aani. Dr. KashinathGhanekar “ did not get enough theatres whereas Hindi film Thugs Of Hindostan “ had captured many theatres all India, again… And I think the first time it must have happened that The Marathi film had clashed with Thugs Of Hindustan at the box office. I want to know your reaction to this.
I do not have a negative response to this. We are all movie-lovers and grown up watching movies of Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and at the same time, we have watched Ashok Saraf, LaksmikantBerde movies in Marathi. There is no differentiation for me at all. What I feel bad, along with Hindi movies, regional movies should also get weightage . For example, in Maharashtra, Marathi movies, in Karnataka, Kannada movies, in Gujarat, Gujarati should get space in theatres during prime time. That is what I feel.
Whether it is a biopic like Balgandharv (a movie based on Actor Balgandharv), Freedom Fighter LokmanyaTilak or a film based on Marathi stage superstar KashinathGhanekar, you actually enter into that character and perform. Is there any influence in your personality related to that respected personality?
It is similar to reading books. Books can change our personality and we can learn different aspects of life. Although there is no direct influence on our personality certainly, there is the indirect influence. There are some situations in life which can be handled wisely just because we have to read good material. Exactly, I can say about playing biopic roles. Yes, there is a positive impact on personality.
In the last few years, the quality of Marathi cinema is way ahead when it comes to exploring varied stories. This is accepted by many senior actors from other languages. What is your say on this?
It is certainly a great time for Marathi cinema. People are really taking Marathi cinema more seriously. Most of the producers in the Marathi Industry and today also holds true. Priyanka Chopra produced Ventilator two years back and that movie was super hit at the box-office. John Abraham produced movie in the 2018 year, SavitaDamodarParanjape, in which I have acted. According to him, there are many subjects that cannot be produced in Hindi and has a strong belief that in the Marathi industry, good movies are produced. This movie is also based on the play SavitaDaomodarParanjape. In 2019, I am doing one project with Priyanka Chopra. Also, Marathi Cinema is cost-effective. I feel, we have still to improve the Marathi cinema. To make a movie based on social happening, does not mean it is content-oriented. We are not catering to complete audiences.
You acted in Malayalam and Hindi films. How was your experience?
When it comes to acting or for that matter singing, I think language is actually immaterial. I do not think that I have achieved anything great by acting in films other than Marathi because I feel whether it is Marathi or Hindi or Malayalam, every language has its own colors. Besides Hindi, I have already worked in Hindi films like ArdhanginiEkArdhsatya as well as Aiyya (with which Malayalam superstar Prithiviraj had made his debut in Bollywood). Pinneyum was directed by the world-famous director Adoor Gopalakrishnan. I am the only Marathi actor who has acted in his Malayalam movie.
You have produced PushpakViman. Can you please mention that.
PushpakViman is based on a grandfather and grandson relationship. The grandfather is played by actor Mohan Joshi and I acted as his grandson. I was closely associated with my grandfather and could not fulfill his wish of flight journey. So, in this movie, the wish of the grandfather to board the aircraft has been fulfilled. Story and production were both mines.
Acting, Direction, Production? What is your favorite?
Acting is not under my control. I shall be moving towards a direction. But I also like production since I also like to work behind the camera. I have learned all backstage activities including music and management during acting in plays. Then I have become an actor.
Your comeback vehicle to TV serial is Tula Pahate Re, Just express about the serial.
I already mentioned the TV medium is strong in terms of reach. Non-Marathi people are watching this serial, and I am receiving calls, from people residing in Ghana, Africa, Iraq, and Egypt countries, appreciating my work. I consider TV just like riyaz. Every day morning, I have to face the camera and act in various situations.
What can you say about the quality of TV serials?
When TV serials started, there was a particular well-learned audience. So they were based on literature. Now, every home has a TV and so a new audience on TV… Viewers may not have a background in reading. So these TV serials are produced considering overall viewership. But, the scenario will definitely change after a few years.
You have also hosted one dance reality show. Can you tell us about your experience?
I hosted the dance show DholakichyaTalawar. Lavani is a combination of traditional song and dance, which is particularly performed to the beats of Dholki a percussion instrument has seen “Dance art” from different perspectives and again spent time with well-known dancers.
Who is your idol as an actor?
All the good actors are my idols. I like myself, Mohan Joshi, Amitabh Bachchan and Satish Tare a lot.
Please tell us about your family.
My parents, younger brother and his family are staying in Pune. I am settled with my wife and two sons in Mumbai. Elder son Kanha is in the seventh standard and younger son Malhar is in the second standard. Both sons play football in school. My wife manages our “Kanha’s magic event firm”.
What can you say to the younger generation who is willing to come to the acting field? Any tips?
In my opinion, if someone wishes to come into the acting field as a fascination, glamour, for more money, then one should not think of coming to this field. If you really feel that if you will not survive if you do not present your art. then and then only, one can think of coming to the acting field.
If not on acting then which career you would have selected?
Actually I wanted to do UPSC and wanted to do a government job. But now I can also say, besides acting, I would have liked to become a singer
I read a lot whatever I get in any language.
What is SubodhBhave’s success mantra?
I do not believe in success or failure because success cannot be defined and in relative. I just do my work. If I am a better person than yesterday then, yes, I am successful.
By Purnima Parkhi