Interview Marathi

Gashmeer Mahajani follows Stanislavski, believes an actor is an athlete first

Actor Mahajani raves about Worli Koliwada, the location in Mumbai where his upcoming film Bonus was shot.

Keyur Seta

Actor Gashmeer Mahajani not only agreed to do the film Bonus instantly as he liked the concept a lot, but he also helped director Saurabh Bhave with inputs for the script.

“It was just the first draft, so there was a need to work on it," the actor told in an exclusive conversation ahead of the release of Bonus. "I told him that I would like to work on it with him. I felt the script needed to be developed more and the characters etched more strongly.”

Bonus stars Pooja Sawant opposite Mahajani. This is Bhave’s first film as director after a decade as a writer in Marathi cinema. “Saurabh is very sorted and studious," Mahajani said. "It becomes easy when the director is from the same generation. More than clarity, there is a sense of freedom on the sets, which gives you more confidence.”

A large part of the film takes place at Worli Koliwada (a fishing colony) in central Mumbai and the makers decided to shoot at the actual location. “When you shoot in a real location, you actually get to live that character, which helps your performance,” said Mahajani. “If there is a set, then you are required to imagine that you are at Koliwada. You know that everything around is fake, including the wall and its colour.”

With Pooja Sawant in Bonus

Bonus sees Mahajani play a wealthy businessman, who accepts a challenge to stay in the fishing colony for a month.

Mahajani said it was a myth that everyone living at a koliwada is poor or belongs to the lower strata. “A lot of people staying at Koliwada are rich,” he said. “They have so much money that they can afford a penthouse in a high-rise building. If you look inside, Koliwada is aesthetic, beautiful and colourful. It is a character in itself. People live here out of choice, as their forefathers lived here. They have preserved their culture and not lost themselves in Western culture.”

Mahajani is one of the few actors in Marathi cinema today who is classical hero material with his good looks and muscular body. It is one reason why he has such a huge fan following even though he has only done six films so far. Asked about this, the actor said he follows the teachings of the late Russian theatre artiste Konstantin Stanislavski, who said it is important for all actors to be physically fit.

“Stanislavski said that an actor is an athlete first, then a philosopher. He said that the way you are investing in your mind by reading, are you also investing in your body? At the end of the day, you will be performing what you read with your body,” Mahajani explained. “There is something called body language. Hence, I decided from the beginning that I would always work on my body.”

Mahajani also believes that being fit helps him lose weight quickly after bulking up for a role. “If I have to play a character with a paunch, I can do that by eating stuff like samosas for 15 days. After that I won’t need six months to get back in shape. I need only a month-and-a-half as my body is used to exercise,” he said.

Bonus is set to be relaesed on 28 February.