Art & Entertainment

Sai Tamhankar: The Magic Of The Big Screen Will Never Fade Away

Sai Tamhankar, who has been garnering some great response for ‘India Lockdown’, expresses that audiences are too quick to make judgements, and people should give the film industry some time to stand on its own feet, considering we all have just come out of a deadly pandemic.

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Sai Tamhankar
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Sai Tamhankar is garnering a lot of praise for her recent release ‘India Lockdown’. The actress plays a daily wager who goes out of work in the lockdown and has to walk down to her village in order to save themselves from the perils of the pandemic.

Talking to Prateek Sur, Sai Tamhankar opens up about the film, working with director Madhur Bhandarkar, her personal travails during the pandemic and lots more. Excerpts:

You’ve been a huge star in Marathi cinema but keep doing films in Hindi on and off. Why do we see so less of you in Hindi cinema?

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(Laughs) Maybe I’m choosing parts that reflect my interest and choices. Also, I believe if I play varied parts, I’ll be offered varied parts; hence the careful choosing of parts that come my way. But ‘Mimi’ has opened a lot of doors for me, and I’m thrilled to explore more such opportunities

Because the story of ‘India Lockdown’ is so recent and we all have gone through it and we all knew such characters in real life, did you also base your character on someone you know or someone you’ve seen or heard of?

I’d really want to tell people that through ‘India Lockdown’ we are not trying to trigger bitter memories. In fact, it’s a story of hope, the human spirit and survival. I drew a great deal from my house help since I play a migrant worker who earns her bread and butter by being a house help at different households. For example, I observed the speed of my house help which is nearly 5 times compared to me in the kitchen. What I love about Phoolmati the most is that even after being financially weak and living a hand-to-mouth existence, she has a great amount of self-respect and is a strong woman with a spine.

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You’re playing a daily wager in ‘India Lockdown’ who is struggling for money amidst the pandemic. In your personal experience, what sort of problems did you face during the lockdown, especially the first wave?

I think we all faced a lot of different problems and learnt a great deal from them. I was by myself for nearly 7 months, and I had to deal with loneliness. It was tricky, tough and almost a near-traumatic experience. It has taught me a great deal. I’m sure if in future I might have to face a similar kind of problem then I’ll handle it differently, with more self-care and awareness and with more maturity.

In your personal life, what did you try to do to help people during the lockdown, maybe the lower income groups or the daily wager?

Yes, we all donated whatever we could from time to time. However, during the lockdown, it was a great deal to just pick up your phone and ask someone how they were doing. A group of friends and me decided to make a list of senior citizens who lived by themselves, and we would call and let them know that we were there if they needed anything. Especially in lockdown taking care of someone and letting them know there’s someone who cares meant a great deal.

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How easy or difficult was Madhur Bhandarkar as a director?

Looking at his filmography you might think that Sir is a serious man, but he’s exactly the opposite of that. He is the jolliest person I’ve met. A big foodie and a prankster. He would keep the atmosphere so light and comfortable that we didn’t want our shoot to end.

After the lockdown, films have started not working that much in theatres, and people are preferring OTT more. What do you think should be done in order to get audiences back to theatres?

I think we are always in a rush to conclude things. I honestly feel cricket and cinema are in our blood. We’ve just come out of a deadly pandemic. Let’s give ourselves some time to stand on our feet again. I am sure everything is going to be as it was before. I feel the magic of the big screen can and will never fade away.

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Regional films from the south or even Marathi films like ‘Zombivali’ and the recent ‘Har Har Mahadev' have done excellent at box-office even amidst the lockdown. Where do you think Hindi filmmakers are going wrong that their movies aren’t working?

There’s no sure-shot formula to a hit film. Hindi films like ‘Drishyam 2’, and ‘Bhediya’ are doing exceptionally well at the box-office and it is proof that every cinema barring language is making waves in its own way and right. And I repeat this, we jump to conclusions too fast. We’ve just recuperated, and we will be back on our strong feet.

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What was your biggest learning through the lockdown?

No sorrow or problem is big or small.

What next can we see coming from your end?

Well, there are lots. You’ll see me in the film ‘Bhakshak’ from Red Chillies directed by Pulkit. Another film ‘Agni’ from Excel directed by Rahul Dholakia. A web series called ‘Bindiya’ on MX Player. Another web series called ‘Front Page’, directed by Sudhir Mishra.

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