Chandramukhi is a salute to folk artists: Amruta Khanvilkar

The idea behind Chandramukhi was to recognize the contribution of folk artists from Maharashtra via traditional dance forms such as tamasha, lavani and mujra, says actor Amruta Khanvilkar.

Chandramukhi is also characteristic of Khanvelkar as the film marks her first major role in her 12+ year career as she has appeared in films across Marathi and Hindi languages.

The Mumbai-born actor plays Chandra, a leading dancer, Tamasha, in the 1980s Marathi romantic drama. Directed by National Award winning Prasad Oak of Kacha Limpo fame.

“More than playing a dancer character, he was giving tribute to all these folk artists. These people come from inland parts of Maharashtra and beat their lives for dance forms like lavani, tamasha, mujra etc.

“There were times when all these forms of dance were respected. With Chandramukhi, we had to bring back those days when Tamasha was seen,” Khanvelkar told PTI in an interview.

Tamasha is a traditional form of Marathi theater, often with singing and dancing, widely performed by local or mobile theater groups.

Based on the Vishwas Patil novel of the same name, Chandramukhi follows the passionate and twisted love story of Chandra and up-and-coming politician Daulat, played by Adinath Kothare.

Amruta Khanvilkar, whose credits in Marathi and Hindi films include Natarang, Katyar Kaljat Ghusli, Raazi and Malang, said she is glad she got the lead role in Marathi.

“I have been in the industry for 12 years now and this is my honorary role in Marathi, the industry I started from. Not that I should get such roles in my first year in the industry, I think there is always a process for an actor to go through.” She also thanked director Oak and co-star Kothare for their support throughout the filmmaking process.

“Prasad held my hand and made me walk through this experience called Chandramukhi. Adinath has been such a support, he is one of my best friends now. He is a very emotional person. We both immersed in this movie. His energy was contagious,” she added.

The 37-year-old actress said that the director approached her for the film two and a half years ago. Then I and Oak started looking for a product and the right team to collaborate with.

When writer Chinmai Mandelkar joined in, Khanvelkar said it took seven to eight months to develop the script from Patel’s book. But production has been delayed due to the lockdown caused by the pandemic.

“When things opened up, we started and completed filming in 45 days. After that, the second shutdown happened and we were fixing what to do. But the producer made sure to release the film at 100 percent capacity (in theaters). Usually, Marathi films don’t have the budget. We operate within tight budgets and my producer says we’ll wait, it was a bold decision.”

On a budget of around Rs 5 crore, Chandramukhi has earned Rs 14 crore since its theatrical release on April 29, according to the makers.

Apart from the commercial success, the film has received great reviews from critics and audience who particularly praised Amruta Khanvilkar’s work. The song “Chandra”, composed by Ajay Atul and sung by Shreya Ghoshal, has surpassed 2 crore YouTube views.

The actress said that she is happy with all the upcoming love for the movie.

“Although it is a Marathi movie and the dialect is not purely Marathi, I am glad that so many people from the Hindi-speaking belt are talking about the movie,” she said.

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