Interview Marathi

I am Rinku Rajguru’s political mentor in Kaagar, says Shashank Shende

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Veteran actor Shashank Shende is also the film's line producer along with his friend and director Makarand Mane.

Keyur Seta

Shashank Shende has been seen playing rural characters in a number of films like Khwada (2015), Ringan (2017), and Redu (2018). Though he plays a rustic person again in Makarand Mane’s Kaagar, there is a twist this time. Shende will be seen as the father-cum-political mentor of Rinku Rajguru's character.

During an exclusive conversation with, Shende said he will also be seen sporting a new look in Kaagar. “Makarand was bored with my old look of a beard, long hair and the same dhoti," he joked. "So throughout this film I am wearing new and excellent clothes. He has completely changed my look. I have less hair and no beard!” 

This is Mane’s third film after Ringan and Youngraad (2018) and all three films have had Shende in pivotal roles. The director and the actor have clearly formed a strong bond by now.

"There is no question of accepting or rejecting a film with Makarand," Shende said. "This is my third straight film with him. Right after Ringan we decided we should keep working together. That does not mean I will be in all his films. He found me appropriate here. If the script is good, I am ready to do even a single scene for him.”

In fact, the two have taken their association to another level. “After Youngraad we decided we should start our own production house Bahuroopi," Shende said. "We are the line producers of this film. And we keep discussing stories whenever we think of them.”

Rinku Rajguru and Shubhankar Tawade in Kaagar

Shende said he is the sort who panics easily while Mane is the exact opposite, and cited an incident: “An actor in our film was shooting wearing lenses of a specific colour. One day he shot a scene, came inside the vanity van, and said he had forgotten to wear the lenses. We were scared to tell Makarand this. When we finally did, he got a shock initially. But he quickly said we will shoot the scene again. That’s how calm he is.”

Asked about his preparation for a role, Shende said he does not put in any extra effort. He just needs the script well in advance. “If somebody gives me the script and asks to perform at that very moment, it becomes very difficult. But if I have a script for a month before the shoot, I am able to read it 100-125 times. Then I find newer things in it. Like I think whether the character will wipe his specs while saying a dialogue,” he explained. 

He also revealed that he seldom refuses film offers unless the script is really bad. “Fortunately, I get fresh scripts which are just one draft old. So, there is time to work on it. Sometimes I get offers where I have to start work after just one day. I do if I have the time and the money is good,” he admitted. 

But he said he enjoys it more when he is involved in the writing process, no matter how the script is. “I was able to do that in films like Khwada, Ringan and Redu,” he pointed out. 

Kaagar stars Shubhankar Tawade opposite Rajguru. He plays a budding politician who is forced to take help from Rajguru’s character. This is how Shende guides her in the field.

Shende started off as a theatre actor and performed a variety of roles. He is unable to do theatre now, but he does not miss it. “I worked in experimental theatre for 20 years just because I felt good," he said. "The monetary benefit was zero. I, Sonali Kulkarni, Amruta Subhash, Nikhil Ratnaparkhi, Sandesh Kulkarni and Kiran Yadnyopavit had a group called Samanvay. We used to divide costs while performing. But you start getting stagnant after a point.”

Mane and Shende were planning to release Kaagar themselves, but someone suggested they meet Nikhil Sane of Viacom18 Motion Pictures and that was it. “As soon as he saw the film, they came on board. A lot of the tension slipped away thereafter. That is why we are able to speak in a relaxed manner right now,” Shende said, laughing.