Actress Manasi Parekh was recently seen in the Gujarati film titled Kutch Express. The movie, released on January 6, also starred Ratna Pathan Shah and young actor Darsheel Safari. Manasi not only was the lead in Kutch Express but also produced it.
However, ever since the Gujarati movie Chhello Show or Last Film Show was chosen as India’s official entry to the Oscars, has it added pressure to other filmmakers or actors in the industry to perform better? Manasi Parekh talks about the same and also revealed why Kutch Express was not released in Hindi. Read on to know what the actress has to say:
What was your family’s reaction after watching the movie?
My family loved the film not because I was a part of it but because it was a very entertaining and very deeply moving experience for them. Obviously, they are very proud of the fact that I have both, produced and acted in it. The cherry on the cake is the fact that it is doing so well. All cinema halls in Mumbai and Gujarat are so packed. At a time when films are not doing that well at the box office, it is great to see this kind of support for our small films.
As you are the producer of the film too, did you audition for the role? How did it happen?
Yes, as I am the producer of the film, I definitely auditioned for the part because I did not want to be one of those producers who just cast themselves the minute any script is given. I did a look test for my part which was checked by the director and everyone involved with the team. After reviewing the entire look test, I was given the role.
How was it working with Ratna Pathak Shah?
It’s been incredible working with Ratna Pathak Shah. She, as her name suggests, is a gem, a jewel. She is an incredibly amazing actor, very instinctive, very intelligent, and hard-working. With her theatre background, she exactly knows how to carve a character and how to convey her lines. It was superb working with her. The biggest compliment for me was when she said that I remind her of her own younger version. I was really happy by the compliment.
Do you think the reach would have been more if Kutch Express was released in Hindi too?
A lot of people asked us to make this film in Hindi and not in Gujarati but we were very clear that the soul of this film is the language, which is Gujarati. If we would have made it in Hindi, it would have diluted. We are very proud of the fact that it is a Gujarati film that is also being consumed and appreciated by non-Gujarati people. We released it with subtitles so non-Gujaratis can totally enjoy this film.
The Last Film Show or Chhello Show is India’s official entry to the Oscars. It is a Gujarati movie too. After Pan Nalin’s movie, is there pressure on other Gujarati filmmakers, actors or producers to do better?
It is incredible that this year Pan Nalin’s Chhello Show has been nominated for the Oscars. It shows how the equation has changed in the industry. As long as your film has an emotional connection, as long as your film is made well and the audience resonates with it, they do not care about what the language is. The language of cinema is universal and that has been established this year. With Pan Nalin’s nomination, it motivates other filmmakers, writers and actors in Gujarati cinema to do more. It is definitely not a pressure but a great motivation to the newcomers who want to join this industry.
While we talk about regional cinema, we only mention South languages - Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. Do you think other regional industries including Gujarati are still fighting to get their dues?
The South industry is a very old and established industry. They have been making incredible cinema for years and they have been so popular among their own language people that it is only recently that non-South Indian viewers are discovering their cinema. However, Gujarati cinema is still a very young industry. It is just a decade old. People are now discovering the fact that there are incredible stories that are waiting to be made in Gujarati. I cannot compare Gujarati cinema to South cinema but definitely, the trend is changing and it is for the good and in favour of Gujarati.
What do you think Gujarati cinema should do to gain more popularity?
I think to gain more popularity, Gujarati cinema should explore so many more concepts and so many more stories. There are incredible geographical locations in Gujarat. For example, when we shot Kutch Express in Kutch, we tried to show Kutch as it has never been shown before in any Hindi or Gujarati film. Similarly, people have a very stereotypical notion of what Gujarati movies are or what Gujarati people are like. I think our movies should try to break those stereotypes and should try to bring out those stories to the mainstream for us to reach a wider audience.
Do you think the term, ‘Regional Language’ will be no longer used in the coming years and it will only be Indian Cinema?
I don’t think the term regional cinema will be used (in the future). In fact, in one of his recent interviews, Hrithik Rohan said ‘I want to work in Indian cinema’ and he is a mainstream actor. Even mainstream Bollywood
stars have realised the importance of different languages. The fact that there is a huge connection when a film is made in a particular dialect or in a particular regional language. Indian cinema is out in its glory and the more films are made with more diversity, and authenticity, the more our industry will have depth, range and layers. The term regional cinema might just become obsolete and it might all become ‘Indian cinema’. That is a great trend.
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