His films reek of realism with a touch of commercial spirit. Director Rajeev Patil can, in fact, be called an ace at achieving that balance. Right from Savarkhed: Ek Gaon, Patil has managed to attract the audiences to the theatres, with films like Sanai Choughade, Jogwa and Pangira. Now he is back with yet another hard-hitting movie 72 Miles Ek Pravaas, based on the book by the same name written by Ashok Vhatkar. Based on true events, it speaks of a young boy who runs away from the boarding school to go back 72 miles to his village. On his way, he meets Radhaakka and her children. The film speaks about the journey, literally and figuratively. Patil speaks to The Punekar about his upcoming film and the challenges he faced.
Purely from director’s point of view, how is it difficult to make a film based on a book?
To start with, one of the easiest things for a director is that the story is already prepared for me. So with that difficulty taken care of you find it easy to get the number of scenes right. But when you go through the content of the book thoroughly, you have to get the things which are between the lines. You have to understand what the writer wants to convey in those spaces. It then becomes a responsibility to understand what I have to pick and leave. Whatever I do should not impact the book to film process or story.
I had worked with her in Jogwa and Pangira and had seen her progress as an actress. I knew she could do Radhaakka’s part. When I spoke to my crew about casting her, everybody immediately said yes. She was waiting for such a role.
What made you pick this book as a base for your film?
I had written my first film Savarkhed: Ek Gaon. My next film was based on a play. The thing is that all the stories for my film came to me. It was more to do with fate or destiny, including this movie. I had read the book earlier and when a producer approached me to direct the film, I threatened him of not giving the film to anyone else… he later called me if I was serious (laughs).
What are the difficulties in handling a film with realistic portrayal and yet making it commercial?
When I made Jogwa, it was difficult to achieve the kind of success I needed, with the awards and all. I felt the same even when I made Pangira. Things looked 50-50. I feel when you make a film closer to nature, it works. For example, if a rich and a poor man are made to stand together with nature in the background, they will appear the same and you can connect to it a lot better. The same goes with this film.