Known as the chocolate-faced lover boy of Marathi films for long, Swapnil Joshi for quite some time now is experimenting with roles that go against this very image and successfully so. While Bhikari, Mee Pan Sachin, Ranangan did get the industry to take note of the deglamorised avatar of the hitherto urban and suave actor, his latest film Mogra Phulala has everyone raving about his performance and his different look too. Excerpts from a chat we had with him…
The world of entertainment is going through a lot of change and churn? Does it unsettle you?
As one of the early adopters to this change, I can safely say that this did not unsettle me as change is the only constant. This sounds clichéd but it is true. From an age of landline phones to smartphones where world is in your pocket with, all our lifestyles have undergone a sea change. And I have always believed in changing with the times. So, whether it was me being the first Marathi actor to get a blue tick on Twitter and Facebook, whether it is building my own App and whether it’s being on TV though I am “supposedly a superstar,” for me it’s all about change which I have embraced wholeheartedly.
You are a successful star who is also doing a Marathi TV serial Jeevalaga? It’s not what most successful actors do…
The day Big B did Kaun Banega Crorepati, all the lines of which medium you appear on, blurred forever. If Big B could do it, who am I? With Jeevalaga, I saw a great script – and decided to do it. Also it’s not one of those that go on forever, it has an end and I just didn’t want to miss out on a good role. It’s what I actively look for these days – a good role to play.
That is how Mogra Phulala happened?
Yes – with such a wonderful director like Shrabani Deodhar at the helm I couldn’t but say yes! That said, I have done very different films in the recent past and they have been received well at the BO. My fans expect me to do things differently and Mogra… gave me that opportunity. Today, I am blessed to have reached a stage where I can choose to do roles which I absolutely love and being able to do what I want to do is success – not the box office numbers. The definition of success changed for me.
But box office success does count for something?
Of course, box office will always count for actors, but unlike in the past the cash registers ringing is not the only barometer of success. Today, success is when there are takers for satellite and digital rights of your film along with BO. But, like I said before – our lives as we know has changed in this digital age and changing formats of entertainment is part of that change. In fact, my app will have different types of content on it and I am hoping that people will like the content that I present them.
So as an actor you are comfortable with OTT as a platform?
When you can watch a great movie from the comfort of your home at any time with a flick of a remote, then booking tickets for a particular show and braving insane traffic jams to watch a film can seem pretty laborious to many. I, for one, enjoy streaming and have invested in a home theatre. With great prints, excellent sound quality and awesome content I love the experience of streaming content at my own convenience. Right from Breaking Bad, to Friends to Black Mirror to Made in Heaven and countless movies, I totally enjoy steaming content.
You don’t think this time people spend on streaming shows will affect BO collections?
Yes, theatrical collections will get affected in times of streaming but that’s a change we all have to live with and better still adapt to it. The conventional work paradigm has changed and we as entertainers have to find or use newer avenues to get the work of entertainment done. So, if most of my films get picked by Prime Video, it’s a good thing for my films as it reaches a wider audience and which actor doesn’t want his audience base to increase? It doesn't matter where my film releases or does not - after a while - people across India can watch it!
OTT is throwing up so many stars…how do you react to it?
Yes, we have whole new talent pool and isn’t it a great thing for films? In today’s day and age superstardom will disappear. It will soon be a thing of the past. Those days, where you played God in a film and people revered you, are gone. With so many formats of entertainment and diverse content on the internet, people today understand that we are actors playing a role and they will love you for your work only. An audience consumes different types of content and we as actors need to be able to be able to provide this to them. The day my good work stops, they will move on to the next actor. It’s that simple.
Given that you love tech and have adapted to tech well, how do you manage not being a slave to technology?
Technology is a wonderful thing. But if you are addicted to technology – then tech is not the problem, it’s you because you are allowing tech to drive your life. I don’t allow that. For eg., when I want to be undisturbed, I just keep my phone on flight mode. It's worked great for me thus far.