Mumbai: In a debatable directive on Tuesday, the Devendra Fadnavis government announced that from November 1 onward, auto-rickshaw permits will only be given to those who could speak the state’s regional language – Marathi.
“Only those applicants who can speak Marathi will be issued new autorickshaw permits from November 1,” said Maharashtra Transport Minister Diwakar Raote.
Maharashtra is an urbanized state and as a result, the directive will impact the auto drivers hailing from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh among thousands of other migrants in the financial capital of India.
The previous governments rule only entailed that a driver must have been a Maharashtra resident for at least 15 years. Obtaining such a certificate is not that difficult.
A survey conducted after the Fadnavis government took over last year revealed 70 percent of the auto-drivers in the state to be non-Maharashtrians. This prompted the government to take the controversial decision.
Akshay Kumar, who has turned presenter for “Chumbak”, believes Marathi cinema is way ahead of Bollywood when it comes exploring complex stories. “The content of Marathi cinema is no doubt better than Hindi cinema. Also, they (Marathi cinema) are much bolder. I have seen ‘Balak Palak’ and I have enjoyed watching it. It is a bold film, they (Marathi cinema) create (good) content and that too bold,” Akshay said during the trailer launch of “Chumbak”.
The film, directed by Sandeep Modi, stars Swanand Kirkire and teen actors Sangram Desai and Sahil Jadhav. “This film has travelled to several film festivals and got lot of acclaim. That has not happened with my films. My films have not gone to festivals and I felt I should give my name to this film as the content is really good. I have been acting for 28 years but I haven’t seen such a beautiful and real performance like that of Swanand Kirkire.”
Not for money
Actor-producer Akshay Kumar says that he did not produce the forthcoming Marathi film “Chumbak” with the intention to earn money at box office. Asked what prompted him to associate his name with “Chumbak”, Akshay said: “I don’t want to earn money by producing this film. I do lot of films through which I earn money and this film is not one of them. This film will show you right path. I have seen many films, but not every time, I want to associate myself with the film, but this film touched my heart. The kind of message that this film gives, these are the things what I would like to teach my children. I feel people should pass on this to their children so that they can learn what is right and what is wrong.”
The actor said he is keen to be a part of meaningful films. “I could have done ‘Rowdy Rathore’ and earned three times the money, I earned for ‘PadMan’. The idea is not about earning, but I thought of talking about women’s problems. I can earn money by doing other kind of films, but I want to do these kind of films.”
Akshay, on his part, believes the market for regional cinema is growing. “‘Sairat’ has done great business. Even Riteish Deshmukh’s last Marathi film did well. I am not looking for business in this film (‘Chumbak’).”
About the message given in “Chumbak”, Akshay said: “I feel parents should take their children to watch this film because it tells you that there are two ways to lead a life, one is right path and another is wrong. In that, you have to choose what path is correct for you and that’s what the journey of the characters in this film.”
The film, starring renowned lyricist Kirkire, is a story of friendship between a 15-year-old table-cleaning-waiter-boy Baalu and his chance encounter with a 45-year-old mentally slow man Prasanna that forces him to make a choice between his dreams and morality.
Remaking a film
Akshay Kumar says he wants to be a part of the Hindi remake of Marathi film “Balak Palak”, which was produced by his close actor-producer friend Riteish Deshmukh. “There was a film which I watched…’Balak Palak’… and it’s really a bold film. I think Marathi cinema is much bolder in its content and doesn’t shy away from presenting taboo subjects. I would like to remake that film.”
Akshay has acted in socially-relevant films like “PadMan” and “Toilet- Ek Prem Katha”. Asked if he wants to continue doing such films, he quipped: “Now I am also going to do one more social film called ‘Housefull 4’. I like doing all kinds of cinema. I don’t have a particular image and I don’t want to tag myself. I keep on breaking my image all the time and it always comes as a challenge for me. As an actor also, it keeps you going,” he added.