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Interview Marathi

My character in Pondicherry will help break my romantic image, says Vaibhav Tatwawadi

Directed by Sachin Kundalkar, the film also stars Sai Tamhankar, Amruta Khanvilkar, Neena Kulkarni and Mahesh Manjrekar.

Vaibhav Tatwawadi

Keyur Seta

Pondicherry, or Puducherry as it is now known, is far from a typical setting for a Marathi film. It is even more unusual for a film shot in the Union territory to share its name. Ahead of the film's release, Vaibhav Tatwawadi, its leading man, told Cinestaan.com that the title is an apt one. “Pondicherry is a character in itself. There is also a reason to name the film as such. After watching the film, it will feel that this film couldn’t be named anything else,” he said. 

Directed by Sachin Kundalkar, the drama, which revolves around a woman who runs a homestay in the city, stars Sai Tamhankar, Amruta Khanvilkar, Neena Kulkarni and Mahesh Manjrekar.

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“To describe the film in one sentence, Pondicherry is an experience,” said Tatwawadi. “When the audience sees it in theatres, they will love it. I am very happy to be associated with it. Sachin is a wonderful director. He has a lot of clarity. He knows what he wants from his artistes. So that makes life easy for you as an actor.”

The actor, who plays a character named Rohan, was tightlipped about the role. “If I divulge more about my character, I will have to give out the story,” said Tatwawadi. “I would say I was desperately waiting for a character like Rohan, which Sachin gave me. Very honestly, I have never played such a character before.”

Vaibhav Tatwawadi and Amruta Khanvilkar in Pondicherry

During the trailer launch of Pondicherry, Kundalkar said that the team shot the film in the same house where they had written it. “It’s an old house. Some houses feel like characters in themselves. The house is also a very important character in the film, just like Pondicherry. The whole story revolves around this house. It was important for the house to have an X factor. So choosing this house was very important,” he said.

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Tatwawadi said he hit it off instantly with Tamhankar and Khanvilkar. “There was give and take. Ultimately, when you will see the film, you will realize there is a lot of give and take, even with Neena Kulkarni and Mahesh Manjrekar. When you have such rapport with co-stars, it is seen on the screen.” 

Pondicherry is the first Marathi film to be shot on a smartphone. Obviously, this came with its own set of challenges. “It wasn’t possible to take extreme close-ups,” said Tatwawadi. “The film’s form and pattern got decided on the basis of the camera. Sachin wanted to make the film this way and also ensure that there were not many people on the sets.” 

Neena Kulkarni and Sai Tamhankar in Pondicherry

He added, “Ultimately, no matter how it is shot, your characterization remains the same. So it wasn’t a very different experience.” 

Kundalkar said recently that the film was shot with a crew of only 15, including actors. This is a stark difference since feature film shoots always have around 100 people on the sets.

“It was a very different experience. It felt very personal,” said Tatwawadi. “It provided calmness. When there are too many people on the sets, you are required to go to a corner and concentrate at times. But here it was too personal. So it didn’t feel as if we were shooting. I felt I am just portraying my character. Because of this, I felt it helped me as an actor.” 

Speaking about the process of signing on for films, the artiste said he doesn’t take much time to join a project. “As soon as you read the script, you realize whether you want to do the film. Other things like who is making and producing it come later. Of course, the writer and the director are important. But when you hear the narration the first time, you get that gut feeling,” he said. 

Over the years, Tatwawadi has acquired an image of a romantic guy. Asked whether he wishes to change this image, he said, “I think Rohan is the answer to this question. I got to show myself in a different way through this character. So this is the character through which the image-break has happened.”

Tatwawadi also has a Hindi web-series titled Nirmal Pathak Ki Ghar Vapasi on SonyLIV in the pipeline. “I am also doing the second part of Bhetali Tu Punha (2017), which has been Bhetali Ti Punha 2. I have another film for which I will be shooting in London in June. I have also completed a Hindi film as a lead,” he said. 

Pondicherry was released in theatres on 25 February.