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Whether you like Kashinath Ghanekar or hate him, you will surely understand him: Director Abhijeet Shirish Deshpande

The filmmaker spoke about the problems he has with biopics in India and self censorship when writing one.

Keyur Seta

The trailers of Aani... Dr Kashinath Ghanekar have indicated that the film is a bold biopic on the life of legendary theatre artist. During a chat with us, director Abhijeet Shirish Deshpande said that showing the subject’s achievement is not everything for him in a biopic.

“Achievement is only one part of it. At some level, there is a humanity to it. It is out of this humanity that success comes,” he said.

Deshpande believes that this where biopics in India lag behind. “What my problem with biopics has been so far, I don’t want to take names, is that we revere them [the subjects]. We only show their achievement. We sometimes whitewash their images, look the other way, glorify their flaws or just lie through our teeth,” he said. “In doing so, you miss out on the fascinating side of what he was as a person. All these people have had a fascinating life.”

Ani... Dr Kashinath Ghanekar is a biopic on the legendary Marathi theatre artist Dr Kashinath Ghanekar. He was the first superstar of Marathi theatre whose name in the cast credits pulled people to the halls. Ghanekar also starred in some Marathi and Hindi films. He passed away at an early age of 56 after he suffered a heart attack while on a drama tour.

Deshpande stated that censorship process in a biopic starts very early. “I don’t mean the CBFC censorship but self censorship. One might think, if I show this, the family will not give permission. If I show something else, people might not like the character and his achievements might not look impressive,” he said and added that the director curbs himself at the writing level itself. “Everything is shown very goody-goody and happy-happy. This also works as these people are personalities,” added Deshpande.

Abhijeet Deshpande at the trailer launch of the film. Photo: Shutterbugs Images

“My biggest challenge was showing him for what he has achieved but [to] also show what he was as a human being; his choices, mistakes, jealousies, insecurities, etc. There comes the whole craftmanship of mine as a first time filmmaker,” said Deshpande.

This raised some questions for him. “In spite of showing all this, will you still be fascinated by that man? Will you still take him home and like him? Whether you will like him or hate him, you will definitely understand him,” he said.

The film will see noted actor Subodh Bhave play the role of Ghanekar. This is his third biopic after Balgandharva (2010) and Lokmanya: Ek Yugpurush (2015). During the trailer launch of the film, he admitted that this he has never felt a fear while playing a character like he did while playing Ghanekar. "I am still unable to believe that I played this character," he had said.

Thanking CEO of Viacom 18, Nikhil Sane, Deshpande said, “I will keep taking Mr Nikhil Sane’s name. He knew the kind of scale at which I was doing it. He would have asked me to keep the film clean and vegetarian. He said, let’s show everyone that such films can also be made. When you get such partnership from the final authority, you go all out,” he said.

Also starring Sonali Kulkarni, Sumeet Raghvan and Vaidehi Parshurami, Ani... Dr Kashinath Ghanekar will be released on 8 November.