When I saw ‘Balasaheb Thackeray’ walking along a street in Hadapsar

Shared from the 2018-06-23 The Times Of India – Pune eEdition

Nithin Belle

As a journalist, one has over the years got used to interacting with film personalities, both superstars and ordinary actors and artists. Yet, even today that feeling of excitement runs through your system when you come across some shooting scenes.

Just the other day, as I was on my daily evening walk in our housing society at Hadapsar, I came across this group of technicians, workers and artists busy setting up the stage for a shoot. Fortunately, there were no crowds and the men and women could go ahead with their work quietly.

Most of the residents of our society were also busy with their gardening or other chores and did not bother much about the shooting process. Over the next few days during my evening walks, I saw them bustling around with cameras, lights and other equipment.

And wonder of wonders, one evening I saw ‘Balasaheb Thackeray’ on the street with folded hands and many policemen surrounding him. Of course, there were about a score of onlookers witnessing the scene this time. And the Ambassador cars of an earlier era with number plates you won’t find today were also on the internal roads of our society.

The Thackeray lookalike was Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who has been cast in the role of the erstwhile Sena supremo in a film written by Sanjay Raut, the Rajya Sabha member and a senior party leader.

I finally cornered Ravindra Karmarkar, the busy assistant director, and over a cup of tea — with many of the technicians butting in with their queries — got to know of the making of the film on Thackeray and due to be released on January 23, 2019, his birth anniversary.

“The film traces the first 50-60 years of his life,” explains Karmarkar. “We selected this housing complex as it resembles Kalanagar in Bandra.” Two bungalows were selected for the shots, one representing the old Matoshree and the other the post-1990s bungalow, which is grander.

Amrita Rao plays the role of Meenatai, Balasaheb’s wife, in the film. Besides the Pune residential society, the film has been shot in Mumbai, Nashik, Palghar and Karjat among other places.

“But it was difficult to shoot such a scene of Matoshree in any of these places, so we chose the location in Pune,” Karmarkar told me.

I’ve witnessed shootings at the Film City in Mumbai and other places, besides interacting with Bollywood stars in cities from Durban in South Africa to Dubai in the UAE. But having a film shot inside our housing colony in Pune was something I never thought would have happened.

The writer is a former journalist now based in Pune

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Ravindra Karmarkar, assistant director of the movie, told the writer that the housing complex in Hadapsar was selected to shoot the movie because it resembled Kalanagar in Bandra
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