Retrospective feature on Sanjay surkar by Anuradha Pandey (Symbiosis).
Sanjay Surkar, a name that every person related to Marathi cinema knows, a name that has made its mark in the sphere of cinema, a name that has changed the face of Marathi cinema and has taken it to new heights. He has left behind a legacy in form of his movies that people in times to come will follow. Sanjay Surkar is the man who dedicated his life to films and seized every opportunity he could to live his dream.
He entered the industry with his first film ‘Chawkat Raja’ in 1991 about a disabled boy who meets his childhood friends after growing up. While the girl has settled in her life, he is just the way he was. Sanjay Surkar has been successful in depicting a relationship that the boy develops with his friend, her husband and her child over a period of time. Starting off with a topic like this, it becomes very easy to understand the kind of movies Sanjay Surkar was planning to make.
Sanjay Surkar also had a sense of casting. He didn’t believe in always working with establishing actors but with people whom he thought would do justice to the role. Dilip Prabhanalkar, the lead actor in “Chawkat raja” remembers him as a very calm and composed person the set. “It was decided at the last moment that I would play the lead and even though I had no time to prepare, Sanjay Surkar showed such a faith in me that I was inspired to give my best”. Such was the personality of this great director. This was his first State and national winning movie. After this, there was surely no looking back. His other great works are “Roasaheb”, “Tu thite me”, “Gharabaher”, “Aai Shappat..!”.
Sanjay Surkar had the gift to see things beyond what was visible. Usually the themes of his movies have been based on what he witnesses around him. He was known for his realistic and hard hitting films. He use to make movies based on the happening that touched him. Sanjay surkar made films not just to send across his idea of a particular issue, but also to trigger the thoughts of the viewers and give them a fruit for thought. This was his style of working.
His movie “Sukhaant” was one of a kind. It touched on the topic of Euthanasia or mercy killing. Though this wasn’t a topic which was widely talked about or was adapted as a film in Marathi cinema or in Indian cinemas as a whole, it was well received by the audience and hit the box office hard. In an interview in 2009, when asked about the origination of his idea, he said that he witnessed this at a friend’s place and after doing bit of research on it, he decided to make the film. He also mentioned that it was entirely his idea and he wrote the script according to what he had witnessed and not what generally happens in the society. Sanjay Surkar had always agreed that people can have different opinions than his, and this never bothered him much as he respected other’s perception. He mentioned that many of his colleagues had a very abstract view about euthanasia but that didn’t affect his perception. This clearly states that he did what he believed into. He believed on what he had experienced and in the story that he had created and that’s how he went on about it.
Sanjay surkar was man of great cinematic vision and perfection. He was very clear about what he wanted to do and what the end results would be. He worked in a very precise manner wherein he focused more on the quality and content than on other subjects. Composer Harshit Abhiraj said, “ Sanjay Surkar asked me to work for his film ‘Master eke Master’ in 2009. Whenever he would come over to my studio to discuss the music, he would concentrate on the melody and not on the grandeur or the instruments and technology. He knew what he wanted and always helped his colleagues deliver it efficiently”.
Sanjay Surkar has also shown the magic of his work, ideas, techniques and beliefs in other spectrum of entertainment as well. He has charmed the Television world with his bold serial like “Avantika”, story of a young girl who deals with her surrounding and stands up for herself no matter what. A strong role played by Mrinal Kulkarni who gives a lot of credit to Mr. Sanjay Surkar for the execution. Other such serials by are “Unn paaus”, “Sukanya” which where all aired on ZEE Marathi. Sanjay Surkar has also produced and directed shows on Hindi channels . “Aapki Antra” that aired on Zee TV was a story of a autistic girl dealing with her life, whereas “Dhoond legi manzil humein” that aired on Star One was a story of a girl who belonged to a family involved in Politics and about her life changing experiences and unexpected entry in politics. It becomes very evident here on the kind of topics he followed. He believed in enlightening the Indian television with the same kind of informative and bold topics, very similar to what he did with his movies.
In an interview, Sanjay Surkar once said that “I don’t consider the word Bollywood apt. I believe in calling it Indian cinema because Bollywood is completely a stolen word from Hollywood”, Thus after charming the Marathi cinema and Indian television with his outstanding work, Sanjay Surkar decided to make his first Hindi film “Standby” which is based on the corruption that takes place in the sports administration in our country. Standby also introduces a lot of new faces on which Sanjay Surkar always commented “ I needed young actors who looked liked players. I can’t make actors like Atul Kulkarni to play the role of a young footballer because he would look too mature for it”. A movie that showed the condition of football in our country and the politics involved in it, was very well received by people and acknowledged widely for its script and direction. It truly did justice to what Sanjay Surkar was known for.
A man who was the epitome of perfection, punctuality and professionalism, was also known as a very sensitive and emotional person. Famous Marathi actor Smita Talvalkar recalls her time with the director on the premiere of his film “Aapli mansa” at Chitra talkies in Mumbai. “When the film opened after the puja, Sanjay Surkar was in tears. When I asked him, he told me that in standard 8th, he ran away from Nagpur and watched a movie in that very theatre. He had fallen asleep on the bench outside and the policeman had packed him off to Nagpur the next day. From that day, my friendship was cemented with him. Always known as a great director and producer all over the industry, Sanjay Surkar is a name that has left a deep impact on the minds of the people with his unique work, style, personality and moreover for the kind of person he was. He will always be remembered as the synonym of perfection and reality and his name will be counted amongst those who have dedicated their entire life to the film industry.
Reprinted with permission from DesiShoots.
Sanjay Surkar : An Ode to Perfection
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