Meet National Award winning filmmaker Gajendra Ahire, whose film Dear Molly is getting an Oscar screening in Los Angeles this month

A young girl is looking for her father, taking cues from a trail of letters he had written to her. He last saw her when she was only five years old. This is what the film Dear Molly is all about. It is a wonderfully poignant story based on a father-daughter relationship. The film explores the journey of a daughter in search of her father in Sweden.

Directed by filmmaker and script-writer Gajendra Ahire, the film has been selected for screening before the Oscar jury in Los Angeles in December. The film which is an Indo-Swedish collaboration, has been shot in English and the film will be screened at select theatres in LA.

The film has Gurbani Gill making her debut as Molly along with well-known Marathi actors Alok Rajwade, Mrinmayee Godbole and Ashwini Giri and a prominent Swedish cast comprising of Lia Boysen and Chris Holmgren among others. Produced by Praveen Nischol and Ratan Jain, presented by Manmohan Shetty and Ganesh, the film is all set for an early 2019 release.

Ahire, known for his work in Marathi cinema, has 49 films to his credit in which he has contributed not only in direction but in story, screenplay, dialogues and lyrics as well. He excitedly tells Patriot, “It is an honour for Dear Molly to have a special Oscar screening. It’s a very special film that I have shot in different languages but the essence remains the same. It is the English version that is being screened in Los Angeles.”

It is shot extensively in Sweden, with some minor portions in and around Maharashtra. Talking about the experience, Ahire says, “The shooting experience, like always, was wonderful. I had Praveen Nischol, who is not only a producer, but a close friend of mine. He was very particular about everything. Also, the crew was small, but they all are like family to me. So, there was a family atmosphere on the film set. Also, our film’s assistant producer efficiently handled everything. So, everything fell into place. I just had to focus on my work and the rest my crew managed very well.”

He believes one can simply get stories and ideas from one’s surroundings – even the music one hears. The idea for Dear Molly came to him when attending a film festival in Sweden and traveling there. He wondered whether a story can be woven around this theme. As he developed that thought further, it took the form of a story.

“Dear Molly is a story that will connect with all fathers and daughters. It is shot in different languages, that have their own distinct flavour. The credit goes to Gajendra for his master storytelling, which makes this such a compelling film to watch,” says Nischol.

Most of Ahire’s films are based on social issues. “Actually, my intention is not to highlight social issues. This is not my motive behind making films. I make films because I enjoy it. Whatever I witness in my daily life affects me and this is reflected in my work. Be it a person’s suffering or the troubled relationships of his life – all these affect the society. Thus, when I try to portray these stories on-screen, the social issues get highlighted naturally,” he explains.

Since Dear Molly is Ahire’s 49th film, he is often asked how he manages to be so prolific? According to him, it is only because filmmaking is his passion and livelihood. “This is all I do and I do not want to do anything else. So, 24×7 I am into films – be it shooting, working on my scripts or post-production work. It’s not that I am in a hurry to make one film after the other. I just keep on working and people have faith in me, so producers and artists are willing to work with me. Thus, it is more of teamwork. My whole technical team – my cameramen, editors and all others – they work as hard as I do. Then only a film is made,” he says.

His last film The Silence (2015) received international acclaim. Moreover, in the last few years, with Marathi films like Sairat (2016) and Court (2014) creating waves both nationally and internationally, the Marathi film industry seems to be touching new heights. Ahire seconds this view.

According to him, the content of Marathi films is definitely better than before. “Many new talents have emerged – each of whom are offering something new to the industry. Many new platforms are there to showcase our films globally. Thus, the competition is at an international level. To match that, good works are coming up. I am not saying we have achieved a higher position in world cinema, but definitely work has been going on to acquire such a position,” he believes.

So, what’s next after Dear Molly for the filmmaker? As he is known for his brisk pace, he is definitely getting a film ready, which is to be released this month. “My next film Sohalla is about relationships – it is a tragic love story. It is about a relation which ended, and then again gets a second chance. It has Sachin Pilgaonkar and Shilpa Tulaskar,” confirms Ahire.

What next? “Jo aj ka din tha, who kuch de gaya. Aur jo kal ka din hai, usse kuch chahta hoon” (Each day that has passed gave me something, and from each tomorrow I want something).

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