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Popular Marathi actor Gaurav Ghatnekar speaks exclusively to Nation Next about his upcoming movie Kaay Re Rascala, which is produced by Priyanka Chopra. He also shares his views on the rising scope and scale of Marathi cinema, his learnings from his acting guru Naseeruddin Shah and his marriage with Marathi actress Shruti Marathe.
You had essayed the role of Lord Krishna in a mythological drama series called Dharmakshetra on Epic channel. How was your experience playing such an important character? What preparation did you have to do to play Lord Krishna?
It was wonderful! To play the character of Lord Krishna was amazing because I feel he was a great politician. A lot of politicians revere him for the same reason. I read a lot of books to prepare for my character. I read Bhagavad Gita. I did a bit of research on Mahabharata and read books like ‘Yugant’ and ‘The difficulty of being good’ by Gurucharan das. These books really helped me, as our show was quite different from the original Mahabharata. Our show was basically about what happens post Mahabharata. All the characters die and go to the Chitragupta Sabha. It was (the show) about who’s going to heaven and who’s going to hell.
You landed a lead role in the upcoming Marathi movie Kaay Re Rascala produced by Priyanka Chopra. How did you get this role?
I had spoken to the director Giridharan Swamy earlier, who wanted me to play the lead role in this film. At that time, we didn’t have a producer; we were looking for one. I was in Bali for my honeymoon when Swamy called me up. He said that he wanted me to meet the producer. When I landed in Mumbai, I was asked to turn up at the production house - Purple Pebbles Pictures. It was then when I learnt that Priyanka Chopra would be producing our film. I told Swamy that had he told me earlier about the same, I would have postponed my wedding! (Laughs) I must say I had lady luck working for me!
Please tell us something about your role. How was working with Priyanka Chopra?
I’m playing a conman in the film. My character believes in smart work over hard work. This attitude is contrary to what I’m in my real life. I feel smart work happens only when you work hard. It’s quite interesting to play a character, which is stark opposite to you. I met Priyanka during the success party of Ventilator. She had even praised me for my performance. I had spoken to her during our poster shoot and that’s when she told me how she was confident about Kaay Re Rascala. Despite she being busy with her daily commitments, she knew what was happening on the sets on a daily basis. There was a report that was going to the US (to Priyanka Chopra) at the end of our shoot. After going through the report, she would make certain changes wherever required.
Of late, many prominent Bollywood actors have been producing Marathi movies. Do you think the scale and scope of Marathi movies has grown since then?
Definitely it has grown manifold. Earlier, Marathi movies had a lesser budget of mere 20-30 lakhs. Today, the budget has increased to a few crores. Producers are willing to invest huge money now. I even heard that Red Chillies Entertainment is also planning to produce Marathi movies. Marathi movies have a lot of cultural depth in them. There’s good literature, stories, etc. Content wise, there’s a lot to explore in Marathi movies.
You recently tied the knot with your co-actor Shruti Marathe. How is it when your co-star is your wife? If you were to work with her now, what would really change?
We didn’t fall in love while shooting. We were friends and we would discuss our respective careers. I remember my acting teacher Naseeruddin Shah telling me once, “You’ll only be happy if you marry an actor. Because, you both would understand each other’s insecurities.” We don’t have a 9 to 5 job. We have night shifts as well. Shruti and me are busy in our own work throughout the day. Marrying an actor is a blessing for actors who want to survive in the industry for a long time. Shruti and I have decided that we aren’t going to work together. We’ve explored every unseen character and dimension of ours. I would like to explore something new now. But, if there’s something exciting, we’ll certainly consider it.
How has Naseeruddin Shah, your acting teacher, helped you in improvising your acting skills?
He told me that there’s no difference in theatre and television. It’s only the medium that’s changing. You just have to make minor adjustments. He always asked me to keep things simple when it came to acting.
Please tell us about your upcoming projects.
I’m considering a couple of scripts right now. I’m also a part of a web series, which is soon going to be viral. I’m also doing a play Mr. And Mr. in Mumbai.