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PIFF 2019: Dilip Prabhavalkar, Kishore Kadam, Girish Kulkarni are yet to be paid for Dithee, says Mohan Agashe

Dithee's veteran actor-producer Mohan Agashe and director Sumitra Bhave talk about how the film, screened at the festival on Sunday, almost got shelved and how it finally got made. 

A still from Dithee

Suparna Thombare

Director Sumitra Bhave's latest film, Dithee, revolves around Ramji from the Warkari (pilgrims) community and Lord Vitthal devotee whose world comes crashing down after his only son drowns in a swollen river. 

The star-studded film, which includes actors like Kishore Kadam, Dr Mohan Agashe, Uttara Baokar, Dilip Prabhavalkar, Girish Kulkarni, Amruta Subhash, Shashank Shende, Anjali Patil, Kailash Waghmare, among others, went through a lot of trouble before it could get made. 

Bhave, 75, had been trying to make the film for several years. 

"I had been fascinated by Di Ba Mokashi's story Aata Amod Sunasi Ale. I felt that a film needs to be made on this story. But it felt difficult because the environment and the philosophy of life and death, it's not easy to make. You have to read Amrut Anubhav and Dnyaneshwari. And I wasn't sure how much of it I understood. I won't say now I have understood it, but at least I am curious," said Bhave. 

The film's theme lies in the protagonist's realisation that birth and death are not different from each other. Bhave was not sure if there would be takers for a deep concept of this kind. 

"Me and my team had been trying to make the film for many years. We would look at the rain for a month and write. Also the worry was finding a producer for a subject of this kind. Five to seven years want by like this. Last year, we even went location hunting, but there was no producer. Finally I told my team that there was no point pursuing this further."

Just when Bhave had given up a producer came to her saying that he would love to produce whatever she wanted to make. Bhave quickly finalised everything and even blocked the dates of all the actors. But after paying an advance amount, the producer backed out, just days before the shooting was about to begin. 

Sumitra Bhave

Agashe, who first came on board as an actor finally decided to produce the film himself. He had previously produced Bhave's Astu! (2014) and Kaasav (2017).

"The film had started and the hardwork she (Bhave) at the age of 75 put in — hunting for location, studying the subject, getting hold of the dates of so many actors... The financial troubles happened just a week before the wari. If at that stage we were unable to shoot the wari, then the rest of the film wouldn't have got made. We had to make a quick decision," said Agashe. 

"So I told her that with whatever advance money you have from the earlier producer, use that to shoot the wari. Ekda wari padrat padu de baki Vithhal will do something [Let us have the wari first, and Vitthal will see the rest]," he added. 

Agashe confesses that he still hasn't paid some people who have worked on the film. "They have all showed faith in me. Some of them are my actor friends and technicians. I paid those who don't regularly work with us as their livelihood depends on it." 

"Dilip Prabhavalkar, Girish Kulkarni, Kishore Kadam, Dhananjay Kulkarni (cinematographer) and Bhave madam herself all are yet to be paid. The film is complete but the payments are still pending," he confessed. 

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