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Interview Marathi

Hope that with Picasso, people will learn of the rich history of Dashavatar, says director Abhijeet Warang

Picasso, which tells the story of Dashavatar artistes from the Konkan region of Maharashtra, won a Special Mention at the 67th National Film Awards.

Suyog Zore

At the recently announced 67th National Film Awards, filmmaker Abhijeet Warang bagged a Special Mention for his directorial debut Piccaso. Shot on location in Maharashtra's Konkan region, the film showcases the centuries-old art form of Dashavatar and the struggles of the artistes.

In an exclusive conversation with Cinestaan.com, Warang revealed that he never thought he would win a National award, that too for his first film. "I knew that it will be appreciated because of the subject but never thought I would go on to win a National award. It's unreal," said the young filmmaker.

Because of the niche subject of the film, Warang initially didn't get much support. "When I decided to make this film," he said, "I had the support of only a few like-minded people. Now it is being appreciated all over the world! Critics are hailing it as a milestone in Marathi cinema."

The filmmaker said he wanted to thank his producer Shiladitya Bora, artistes Prasad Oak, Ashwini Mukadam and Samay Tambe, and all the Dashavatar artistes who were part of the film for having faith in his vision and trust in his ability to realize it. "Because they stood with me, I could complete this film," he said modestly.

Picasso has become the first Marathi film to be picked up by a big streaming platform like Amazon Prime Video. Warang is thrilled that just days after its OTT premiere, his film bagged an award.

"This is such a big thing for a first-time filmmaker like me that a streaming giant like Amazon has picked it up," he said. "What's more heartening is that they chose our small film instead of some big commercial entertainer. After two years the film has finally been released and people are loving it. And now, three days after its OTT premiere, it has won a National award, so I'm really really happy now.

"What's heartening is that many non-Maharashtrians are watching my film and appreciating it. I'm happy that they understood what I wanted to say. If it were released in theatres, only people from Maharashtra could have watched it, but now people from more than 240 countries can watch my film!" he said happily.

The film was shot in the village where Warang spent his childhood. "I shot the film in our own house," he said. "The house where Prasad Oak's character lives is my house. The temple and school we see in the movie are also from my village."

The filmmaker hopes that his film will help people to learn more about the Dashavatar art form. "Unfortunately, despite having a history of more than 800 years, this art form and the artistes have always been neglected by the government," he said. "I hope that because of my film people outside the Konkan will come to know about the rich history of this art. It is the only reason I decided to make this movie."

What Warang hoped for may have already started happening as the filmmaker is getting calls from producers in other regional film industries who are eager to remake his film in their language. "I just got a call from a well-known producer from the South who is interested in remaking this film," he said, without divulging any names as nothing has been decided.

Apart from his acting, Prasad Oak is known for his singing ability. The actor had won first prize in the Zee TV singing reality show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa twice. Yet, Warang chose another singer to do the playback for Oak. Asked about this, he said, "Dashavatar artistes have a particular scale, and it is very difficult to achieve that scale unless you have years of practice. We did try with Prasad, but even after his best efforts, he couldn't reach that scale. I wanted to maintain the authenticity of the Dashavatar plays, so we decided to bring in a professional Dashavatar singer, Vitthal Gaonkar, to do the playback."

Related topics

National Awards