Director, playwright and writer Mahesh Dattani is a celebrated man. He’s known to make some of India’s most critically acclaimed movies. One of the highlights of his career has been his 2004 directorial Morning Raga starring Shabana Azmi, Prakash Kovelamudi, Perizaad Zorabian and Lillete Dubey. The film was shortlisted for the Oscars, but missed its chance at the nominations. Even after the film received much praise back then, the filmmaker wishes he could make the film now and adds that it was ahead of its time.
After making films like Mango Souffle, Dance Like A Man and Ek Alag Mausam, Dattani hit the pause button at directing feature films. He says he ‘belongs to the theatre’ and enjoys the process of directing plays. In an interview with Indian Express Dattani reminisced the film that got him global recognition and thinks it would be a good idea to get back to making films when the Indian audience is appreciating content driven cinema.
On being asked what he thinks of his film Morning Raga, Dattani said, “I wish I had made the film now, rather than almost twenty years ago. That time wasn’t right for films like Morning Raga, because the whole parallel cinema movement had died down. With the way the ‘low-budget’ films are doing so well today, I wish I had made the film now, the audience is completely different and they are exploring.”
Dattani however plans to stick to theatre. “Theatre is my passion, of course, I loved making Morning Raga. But a film is like a product, it stays with you once it is made, but theatre is like ‘rangoli’. You do the ‘rangoli’, you enjoy making it, you appreciate it and then it’s all gone, in a few days. Theatre is very much like that. Whereas the film is more lasting, and it stays for posterity, with digitisation and conservation, you can be assured that your work is preserved forever. Similarly, playwrights have survived, because the play is written by them” added Mahesh Dattani.Given that Dattani has delivered great cinema, fans can only hope he takes a break from ‘rangoli’ and delivers another stellar ‘product’.