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The Rediff Interview / Yashwant Ingavale

Shooting Amitabh, Rajnikanth & Sachin Tendulkar

August 26, 2008

Yashwant Ingavale

It's not everyday a debutant director gets to direct some of the biggest stars in their respective fields -- Amitabh Bachchan [Images], Rajnikanth [Images], Salman Khan [Images] and Sachin Tendulkar [Images].

But Yashwant Ingavale is not making an ordinary film. His first Hindi film Vighnaharta Shri Siddhivinayak [Images] will showcase the famed Siddhi Vinayak temple in Mumbai, and its miracles.

Ingavale tells Patcy N how he roped in the superstars, and what the film is about.

Tell us about yourself.

I started my career as a lyricist in a television channel called Elle, 11 years ago. I also scripted a game show, Aao Jhoot Bole, for the channel. But it did not do well, and was pulled out after eight episodes. Then I started making corporate films and documentaries. This year, my documentary on Mumbai mill workers was screened at the New York International Film Festival. I have also made a documentary on the 26/7 Mumbai floods. I have directed two Marathi films, Sangh Bhala and Chaufhula.

A common friend introduced me to Madhur Bhandarkar, who became my friend, philosopher and guide. I haven't assisted him on any film but he always passes on corporate films and documentaries to me. He also helped me to stage Geet Ramayan, a two-day festival, when it completed 50 years.

One morning, Madhur told me about the script of Vighnaharta Shri Siddhivinayak, and asked me to meet the trustees of Siddhi Vinayak. I met them and things started rolling.

So Vighnaharta Shri Siddhivinayak was his concept?

No. Though he is a devotee of Siddhi Vinayak, the trustees of Siddhi Vinayak -- who are the producers of the film -- approached Madhur. Madhur was too busy to do the film, so he asked me to direct it. I am very lucky. I am doing my first Hindi film, and I have two mentors -- Madhur Bhandarkar and Raj Kumar Santoshi [Images].

Why Raj Kumar Santoshi?

On the very day that I launched the film, I got a call from Raj Kumar Santoshi, who is a great devotee of Lord Ganesh. I had never met him before. When he learnt that I was doing a film on this subject, he called me over. We discussed the film several times, and he has solved my probems concerning the film. He even gave the muhurat clap.

What is Vighnaharta Shri Siddhivinayak about?

The trust at Siddhi Vinayak has a record book, where devotees register the miracles that have happened to them. Vighnaharta Shri Siddhivinayak is a film based on these real stories. There are about 300 stories recorded in that book; we have selected seven and interwoven them into one story. 

The story is about a day in the life of an industrialist Manav Mehta, played by Parmeet Sethi. Divya Dutta [Images] plays his wife.

The film opens with Ganesha and Kathika, placing a bet on who would come first after taking a round of earth. Karthik starts running while Ganesha takes a circle of his parents Shankar and Parvati saying my earth revolves around my parents.

With this film, we are trying to tell the devotees and everyone that however much you pray to God, if you don't respect your parents, your prayers will not be heard.

How did you get Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar involved in this project?

Both of them are big devotees of Siddhi Vinayak. They are making an appearance in the film not for me, but for Lord Ganesha [Images]. I am fortunate to work with such big stars in my very first film.

Amitabh Bachchan is only giving a voiceover in the film. But he has promised me that if he likes the film, and if the script allows, he will request me for a small role too. I have kept a role aside for him.

I did not have to approach the stars. They approached the trust and offered to be involved with the project. There are quite a few stars making cameos like Vivek Oberoi [Images], Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra [Images], Vidya Balan [Images], Rajnikanth, Arshad Warsi [Images], Suniel Shetty [Images] and Gracy Singh [Images]. Ganesh Acharya, who has done the choreography, has a small role too.

In fact, the songs are also sung by different singers, who wanted to be a part of this project like Asha Bhosle [Images], Udit Narayan and Shankar Mahadevan [Images].

Even my cast -- Parmeet Sethi and Divya Dutt -- are doing it for Siddhi Vinayak.

Tell us about the film shoot.

We would do the aarti and worship Lord Ganesh before we started shooting. We did not allow non-vegetarian foods inside the sets.

The film should release in December.

What next?

I am doing a children's film next, called Jai Veer. It will go on the floors in November.

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