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Ekk Albela film’s director Shekhar Sartandel had been assistant director to many Hindi movies. This is a first attempt to make a biopic on an Indian actor. were able to interview Shekhar sir and understand what the challenges were and how Ekk Albela was being made.

Interviewed by: Ajay Kulye

Here are the excerpts from the Interview. How did you think of an idea to make a film on Marathi Actor Bhagwan Dada’s life?
Shekhar Sartandel: In fact there is no biopic on any actor from Hindi or Marathi Film Industry, I don’t know why. It was a coincidence that Bhagwan dada was a Maharashtrian. But in fact he never done any Marathi films, he acted and directed only in Hindi films. We have seen films being made on cricketers’, social workers’ life, but no film was every made on the most glamourous field of film industry.

I had read about Bhagwan dada many years ago. Also I teach at film institute about the history of film industry from 1920’s silent era. So whenever a chapter comes on dancing, I always refer about Bhagwan dada as dancing superstar in the decade of 1950’s. Producer Dr. Monish Babre once came to me and wished to make a film on Bhagwan dada and asked me if I want to direct. All things fell in place and the research started. Now the film is ready for release. Being a Biopic, what were the preparations and how difficult it was to make this film?
Shekhar Sartandel: All I knew about Bhagwan Dada was in perspective, but when you make a film you need a screenplay. For the detailing you need situations and I had to search a lot for that material. Overall there is very less written or documented material available, so it took me 10-11 months to get the correct material on Bhagwan dada. All the situations in the film are authentic and real. So the material and film is 100% original.

Talking about preparations, since we are talking about 1940’s 50’s era, we had to do a lot of detailed study about all minute details like clothing, hairstyles, furniture, offices etc. There are subjective references on costumes and I have to find the color scheme and our costume designer Aparna was instructed accordingly. The same preparations happened for Art direction too, as that had to look real and authentic. The cameras used for film shooting were made as per the reference available. Since all these things will be observed by the audience, we had to work hard for those details. The casting of Ekk Albela is very interesting. We have Mangesh Desai, Vidya Balan, Tejaswi Patil and many more actors, so what was your experience on choosing actors to play actors?
Shekhar Sartandel: It was very difficult, as this is the first time we are making a biopic on an actor’s life. I feel blessed that I got this chance to make a biopic on actor, but then you also need to find out why there were no biopics made on an actor’s life. The answer is, it is difficult to find an actor who looks and behaves like that actor. Also actor’s life is always known to the audience as they have glamour around them whenever they go, so you have to enact that perfectly.

Bhagwan dada was a superstar and he had his own style of dancing. Now to enact an actor so famous, the actor playing his role also has to adapt to that style. Our Makeup man Vidyadhar Bhatte played an important role in choosing Mangesh as Bhagwan dada. When I referred his name to Mr. Bhatte, he assured me that he can look like Bhagwan dada. I was assured once the look test was done and that’s how Mangesh was selected.

Second challenge was Geeta Bali, who was unconventional heroine in that era and her looks were different than other actresses of that era. In today’s age of zero body figure, it was difficult to find that kind of an actress. I thought Vidya Balan looked like Geeta Bali and Mr. Bhatte gave me the lead to Vidyaji and that is how she was also on boarded.

Ekk Albela Director Shekhar Sartandel Interview 02 Vidya Balan plays an important role in Ekk Albela. How was your experience directing Viday Balan?
Shekhar Sartandel: It was fantastic. Vidya Balan is very humble and down to earth actress, so I had very satisfying experience working with her. She is very nice actor, so it all went smooth. She always used to ask me after every shot if her acting was as per my expectations. So that shows the grade of an actress like Vidya Balan. It was giving me confidence, as she always refereed Ek Albela as our film. Bhagwan dada was a national actor, so what are your expectation on the target audience and the film’s release?
Shekhar Sartandel: We have made this film in Marathi, so initially the target audience is Maharashtrians. 15% of film is in Hindi and it has English subtitles, so it can be watched by non-Marathi people too. I hope audience will love this movie. I would love to spread this movie internationally and everyone should watch this movie. It depends on how the film gets distributed world-wide. How was your overall experience with Cast Crew and Producers?
Shekhar Sartandel: Luckily the dream of making this film was born from Dr. Babre and then it became my film. My experience with all the cast, crew and technicians were very satisfying. Manglmurti Films decided to present this film and till now they have been very good system to promote this film. By the end of the interview, we came to know that this is completely a director’s film and Shekhar sir has taken great efforts to make this film a reality. So do watch Ekk Albela from 24 June 2016 in theatres near you.

Ekk Albela Director Shekhar Sartandel Interview 03

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