Mohit Takalkar’s Medium Spicy has been a long time in the making. It was sometime in 2012-13 that the director, founder of the Aasakta Kalamanch, conceived the storyline of his Marathi film. His debut feature, The Bright Day, had finished its run of film festivals and after repeated viewings of it, Takalkar had understood what it was lacking. Without mincing words, the movie’s writer and director says that probably the lamest part of his debut was the writing. If he wanted to make another film, he knew he would need another writer.
For Medium Spicy, the director and playwright roped in friend and writer Irawati Karnik, who was impressed with the urban, contemporary storyline focused on the hospitality industry. They only started looking for producers a year and a half later; finding one proved more difficult than they had thought. “I come from an experimental theatre background and I am always trying to push boundaries with form and content. So, there is a prelude to me that whatever he does is difficult to grasp,” he says.
Takalkar admits he fought back the urge to drop the idea but it was Karnik, production designer Ashish Mehta and actor Sagar Deshmukh who kept urging him not to give up. Finally, they found a producer in Vidhi Kasliwal—but the pandemic again put a spanner in the works in 2020. The movie, starring Lalit Prabhakar, Sai Tamhankar and Parna Pethe, finally saw the light of day on 17 June. Takalkar couldn’t be more excited.
Also read: Wandering through the world of Jacques Tati
For someone who admits to making plays that are slightly difficult to grasp, Takalkar believes this is his most accessible production. “The Bright Day was also about strong family values and complex relationships. There was no direct effort to make Medium Spicy more accessible but it just unfolded in a very friendly way. It has a larger scope and a lot of relatable themes, such as family, dreams, aspirations and urban loneliness. Anyone watching the film will identify with something of it. It has some beautiful romantic moments as well,” he says. The director, who is an alumnus of the Institute of Hotel Management, Mumbai, and owns two restaurants in Pune, says quite a few moments in the movie are inspired by his first-hand experience of the hospitality industry.
Takalkar directed his first play, Yayati, in 1999, when he was working in a media company, but the dream of directing for the big screen had taken shape earlier. “Stage and screen are two different mediums and different things are possible with both. Even before I started directing plays, making films was always on my mind. There has always been a very clear-cut demarcation about what I want to do on stage and what I want to do in movies,” says Takalkar. Although he will continue making movies, theatre, he assures us, will not take a back seat. “My latest play, Hunkaro, which has already been staged at various festivals, will be shown at Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai in July,” he says. Shows of Mathemagician, directed by Takalkar and first shown in 2017 at Prithvi Theatre’s festival, will also be staged soon. “Theatre,” he concludes, “will very much be hand in hand with films.”
Deepali Singh is a Mumbai-based writer.