Surreptitiously, Amole Gupte the painter-thinker-actor-activist-filmmaker who started his career as a movie-maker on an ambivalent note with Taare Zameen Par (what with all the credit for the movie going to its producer Aamir Khan) and who consolidated his position as an independent filmmaker with ‘Stanley Ka Dabba’, is back with his third film.
Amole describes it as a “wisdom film”.
“It’s a 30-minute film entitled ‘1 Idiot’ on the theme of financial management. When we are young we know nothing about how to manage our money, and when we see people who are careful with their money we laugh at them.”
The film’s protagonist is one such man whom Amole knew as a child in the middle-class Diva Nagar locality of Mumbai.
The man who saved for a rainy day is played by ‘Bugs’ Bhargava Krishna. Interestingly the character of the child protagonist based on Amole himself, is not played by Amole’s gifted son Partho Gupte, but by another very gifted child actor Naman Jain.
Says Amole fondly, “Partho is now concentrating on his studies and school-related extra-curricular activities. The little boy in my film is played by another very talented boy. Naman played Janghiya in ‘Chillar Party’ and he has just done Mira Nair’s short film on Mumbai. I am very proud of him. The protagonist, the man who epitomizes financial wisdom, is played by a superb actor Bhargava Krishna. He played the English teacher in Taare Zameen Par.”
Recalling scenes from his childhood Amol says, “There was this man in our neighborhood in ankle-length trousers, torn hawaii chappals who would pass by every day carrying a green plastic jhola. We all used to think he was a clown. But finally he turned out to be the owner of a 5-crore rupee accumulated savings which he used to give his three daughters the best education possible. We pointlessly give too much attention to consumerism. We spend needlessly to look more affluent than we are. If we are caught saving we are somehow not part of the ‘in’ crowd. My film is a morality tale based on the 5,000-year old principle of ‘jitni chaadar utni pair phelana’ (stretch your legs only as much as the blanket allows). Somewhere we squander money for the sake of being trendy.”
The film, funded by the IDFC (Infrastructure Development Finance Company) is replete with songs, dances, humour and drama.
Chuckles Amole, “It’s a full-on masala film. I have to thank Rishi Kakkad of the IDFC for his faith in me. I was often temperamental on the sets. But he never lost confidence in what I was doing, and the message of fiscal austerity that we were trying to propagate.”
Recalling his own days of financial uncertainty Amole says, “I wanted to be an actor. I badly wanted to play Salim in Saeed Mirza’s Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro. But I went to audition with my 100 drawings rather than my show-reel. I was a painter at heart. And it was the late Ashish Lakhia who taught me how to paint and sustain myself. He rescued me. I owe my entire existence to him. But how many young people get proper emotional and financial guidance? Our survey showed a majority of youngsters from the age of 10 to 21 are confused about their resources. That’s how my new film was born.”