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Nagraj Manjule

The director and writer of the national award-winning Marathi film Fandry on his art.

Nagraj Manjule
Nagraj Manjule

What is the film about?

Overtly, it’s about a family from the Kaikadi community (a Dalit community “entrusted” with the task of catching pigs). It deals with casteism, teenage angst, aspirations, failure, and rebellion.

How did you conceive this subject?

The story emerged from my own life. I felt that I could tell it through the cinematic med­ium. I wrote it in 40 days.

How hard was it for you to make this film?

Not at all. I was lucky to find a sensitive, supportive and non-interfering producer.

Do you think Marathi films are witnessing many experiments?

I haven’t followed it very closely, but it is nice that there’re films on varied subjects.

Are you inspired by any?

Inspiration is a strange concept; I fear it may kill your style. If you don’t find it within your­self, you should just sit tight and do nothing.

So what drives you?

I get strength from several things—it may be a film, a sportsperson, anything....

How did you prepare Somnath (the child protagonist), who also won the national award and belongs to the community?

The film was a big deal for him. I just had to give him confidence to perform.

Were you expecting the national awards?

I was sure of Somnath getting the award. I knew it was a strong film but didn’t expect the other awards. It feels very good.

You also acted in the film. How did that come about?

It was decided just a week before the shooting because no one who auditioned was getting the essence of that character. I like acting anyway.

Is the audience receptive to the complexity of the film?

Not everyone reacts to all the issues but the life of a good film is long. People live with it and discover new facets.

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