Asha Bhosle’s acting debut in the film Maaee at age 80 has not been difficult for her at all. The director Mahesh Kodiyal who also makes his debut in Maaee, explains why.
“Ashaji’s songs have always been the highest form of emoting. Even while giving playback voice to heroines she was constantly emoting to pitch-perfection in the songs. The difference was earlier she emoted for other heroines. In Maaee she emoted for herself. I thought I’d have to do a lot of rehearsals with Ashaji to get her familiar with the camera. But she took to the camera like a born actress. Let’s not forget her father Pandit Dinanath Mangeshkar was a brilliant actor. In the 1920 and 30s he’d play both male and female parts, since in those days women were averse to acting.”
Mahesh remembers when he went for the first reading with Ashaji. “I gave her some emotional lines and I took charge of Padmini Kolhapure’s line. She took over the lines as though they belonged to her. Doing the lines she broke down and sobbed. I get gooseflesh even thinking of how she responded.”
Mahesh says he took his time to finish scripting Maaee. “Since it was a film where the main character suffered from Alzheimer’s I didn’t want experts to pounce on me for getting medical details wrong. I worked extensively on getting the details right.”
Mahesh admits the theme of owning responsibility for the parents’ upkeep in their old age is not new. “I know many films like Mohan Kumar’s Avtaar and Ravi Chopra’s Baghban have been done on the theme before. But the problem of children not being able to look after their parents is perennial. It is all around us.”