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Three of Us director on film’s theatrical release: Digital platforms told us they only want commercial films

Filmmaker Avinash Arun talks about his new film Three of Us with Shefali Shah, Jaideep Ahlawat and Swanand Kirkire in an exclusive chat with Hindustan Times.

Filmmaker Avinash Arun, who has directed the second season of the popular web series Pataal Lok, has said he is amazed by the first cut of Pataal Lok 2. In an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, Avinash called the upcoming season ‘another beast’ and also talked about his new film Three of Us which features Jaideep Ahlawat, Shefali Shah and Swanand Kirkire.

Pataal Lok 2

Avinash confirmed that the second season of Pataal Lok should be out next year. He added, “It is coming out very well. I am extremely excited. I cannot disclose anything, but I am hooked and I am surprised. After reading Pataal Lok 2, I was like ‘this is like another beast’. It will come out sometime next year. And, this season I was directing the show all by myself and I was not even sure about that. Those pressures are different. But the after seeing the first cut, I am amazed.”

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‘Mom’s mental health inspired’ Three of Us

Talking about the inspiration behind his new film, Avinash said, “Many things (inspired the story), I guess. A couple of incidents, my mother’s mental illness, the pandemic….everything. I think the journey of the film was already there for many years and I got down to writing and making it only afterthe pandemic caused almost all work to get delayed. I took this up after I got to know that Pataal Lok 2 was delayed.”

Casting for Three of Us

Asked about the casting, Avinash revealed that Jaideep and Swanand were not the first actors to be approached for their roles in Three of Us. “Shefali maam liked the film soon after she read it. The film actively began only after she said yes. I approached a couple of actors for Swanand’s role but all of them refused. Even for Jaideep’s character, I had approached a couple of actors. It was only with Shefali that she got it right away.”

Avinash also shared that not every actor wanted to be associated with a film like Three of Us. Asked about the reason behind actors refusing to take up the project, the filmmaker said, “People liked the characters but some did not have the time, while some did not like the kind of film that it is. Some people also thought they don’t have much to do in the film.” He added that imagining a tall and strong Haryanavi man like Jaideep in a vulnerable role was not something he could easily think of. “But it took time for me to visualise. And, then I thought ‘Where was I running around?”

Three of Us: The evolution, genre and focus

Talking about the evolution of Three of Us, Avinash also said, “There are so many things in the film, which were very unplanned. The pacing – slow (pace) and single shot scenes was not intended earlier. When we started shooting, we just went in with a different approach. After looking at the shot, I did not feel like cutting those scenes. It was a brave decision.” He also opened up on the beautiful Konkan region and said that as someone who spent his childhood in the region, he tries to find ways to return to Konkan.

Avinash also said he wanted Three of Us to be a Marathi film. “I wanted this to be a Marathi film. Then I thought maybe we will try it this way. I have been a fan of Hrishikesh Mukerjee, Sai Paranjpye, Basu Chatterjee, Gulzar ….that kind of films. I feel this genre has evaporated from the scene since the last few years. The stories of simple and common people sans the drama, the usual routine and the motivation to live life and enjoy it, with the complexities is what is missing.

Insisting that he did not want to focus much on the lead actor’s ailment, but on the emotions within her and those surrounding her, Avinash added, “She (film’s lead) is on this cusp of transformation (of realising she suffers from the ailment). I wanted to keep it about small things. We even shot a scene which we took out later. She steps out of the house but loses her way and her husband had to look around for her. Later, it did not make it to the final edit. The film is aboutthe fear which is granted, I do not need to amplify IT.”

Asked about the reception he expects from a theatrical release of the film, Avinash said, “Digital platforms tell us they want only commercial films. I think we had this democratic system earlier in which the people watched films in theatres. The films were big or small, there were only good or bad films…no commercial, or art films. Now, market dynamics have changed so much. When digital platforms refused the film, it came as a surprise to me. I can be completely vocal about it – there are only two kinds of films, good and bad. But market decisions changed after the pandemic. People bought every kind of films and they did not work on digital platforms. Now even they only want commercial films.”

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