Shilpa Navalkar is currently seen as Ketaki in the Marathi blockbuster film Baipan Bhari Deva. Directed by Kedar Shinde and produced by Jio Studios, EmVeeBee Media, it has struck gold at the box office. The Free Press Journal caught up with her for an exclusive chat.
Opening up about how she feels about the way Baipan Bhari Deva has won over the hearts of the audiences, Shilpa shares, “It has yet to sink in. Whenever a film releases, a new daily soap comes up, or a book written by me is out, people always call me up to congratulate and wish me. So, it’s kind of a routine for me. For the first four/five days it was very normal. Now, since there is huge appreciation and with theatres going housefull, everyone is realising that the film is hugely successful.”
She adds, “It’s not a film, but now it has gone into history. It has created history in the sense that women are standing up and dancing while watching the film. Men are seen throwing money on the scenes in theatres. Also, men are whistling. This is the first time we are seeing women euphoria as they are dancing and standing up on their seats. They are enjoying and having fun while watching the film.”
Male stars in their 50s are seen romancing younger women. In the film, for the first time 40 plus lead female actors are giving a tough competition to men. Shilpa explains, “It is high time we need to accept that a woman whether aged 50 or 16 is still a woman. She has her own life, body, mind and emotions. I think somewhere down the line, we have stopped accepting a woman over 40. She has been taken for granted but the success of this film proves a fact and shows that a woman over 40 is also a human. She can enjoy her life and can take her life ahead in her own way. She can also freak out if she wants to. That is the USP of the film.”
When asked what is her take on the sibling rivalry depicted in the film, Shilpa explains, “Basically, siblings grow up in one house be it real or cousin siblings. They have fun and spend time together. But after they are grown ups, they have their own life and individual families They drift apart and they may or may not be in the same country. Rivalry is a strong word. There are emotions and bonds which start getting weaker for various reasons. You lose touch as you don't live in the same city at times. Out of sight is out of mind. Sisters who have been so close knit during the childhood drift apart when they grow up so the film is hitting a cord as they feel this has happened to me also."
Marathi cinema is getting worldwide recognition and Shilpa is also a writer. When asked if she feels Marathi culture is rich, Shilpa replies, “I'm a regular TV writer for Marathi. You have to be comfortable with the language and understand the nuances so I can express myself well. My education was in English and my mother tongue is Marathi.”
When probed about her future projects, Shilpa states, "Acting wise I don't know but people have already started calling me up. I have maintained a slow speed as I do both acting and writing. Whenever I feel very deeply for any acting project, only then I take it up. This is not my bread and butter. This is something I enjoy doing. I may not do another film as actor for another five years ,you never know. I may write something interesting."
Baipan Bhari Deva also stars veteran actress Rohini Hattangadi. Shilpa is all praise for her. "Veteran is a small word. She has seen huge heights of success both in Hindi and Marathi. She is completely forgotten that she has done such huge excellent films like Gandhi and seen such heights of success because she is so down to earth. It's easy to communicate with her. She is a cool composed and dignified personality. You look at her and learn how to handle success," Shilpa gushes.
When asked if the blockbuster film would have a sequel, pat comes the reply, "Kedar is saying no. I also feel since something has done so well, it needs to be left there. You should not do it again as this is history and move ahead and do something different better project. More than paving the path for 40 years actress to play lead roles, this film has paved a path for people to enter the theatres which was experiencing a dull spell as people didn't wish to watch films. Groups of about 100 women are watching the films its a happy moment for them and us as well."
When asked if she will ever write for Hindi projects, Shilpa concludes, “I don’t want to because I am very comfortable writing in Marathi. I think in either Marathi or English, so I have to be that comfortable with the language. I know Hindi but I am not comfortable with it.”