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    Default Not Everyman any more

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    The anti-thesis of the Angry Young Man, Palekar was the common person making the best of his lot in the ‘70s and ‘80s. But the movies he has made as director are sharply different from the movies he has acted in — they are more intellectually distilled. His latest offering, Dhoosar (Blurred, in Marathi), is based on the emotional quagmire stemming from Alzheimer’s disease.

    “A movie is a director’s voice. The script is pivotal. It must have something important to say. A social relevance,” the artist-turned-actor-turned-producer-turned-director says. His Everyman looks are lined but the mane has not shed a hair. Dhoosar is his wife Sandhya Gokhale’s script. It has won three state awards — Best Film, Best Direction and Best Music.

    Of late, Palekar has developed a reputation for being difficult and eccentric. There is no sign of this as he chats politely for an hour. But his answers are unmindful of questions — he says what he wants you to know, not always answering questions directly.

    Later, he writes in an e-mail, “I did not know that you were merely interested in such basic facts [rather] than trying to explore the qualities in me! For this, I would have directed you to... [the] Internet without spending so much time with you!”
    Amol has always been surrounded by competent women. He grew up among three sisters, the family towed financially by their mother. Sandhya is a Yale-educated lawyer. Samiha, his youngest daughter, studies Law and represents Maharashtra in football and rugby. His first marriage to actress Chitra ended with a “discussion between two mature adults.” Both parents have been publicly supportive of their daughter Shalmalee’s homosexuality.

    The result of this life is that the female characters in his movies transcend a predestined existence. In Dhoosar, a daughter grapples emotionally with a mentally fast-retreating mother.

    Palekar lives in Pune to dodge the stunting shadow of Bollywood’s star-spangled banners. “When I lived here, my career worked like the government’s five-year plan. Now, I am more prolific.”

    What he learnt at his masters’ knees, he hasn’t forgotten. In his acting days, directors asked actors to share a room or rehearse together. “There was no insecurity that (s)he will be better than me. We understood that with co-actors becoming better, we all would do better.” When he made Paheli in 2005, he insisted that Rani Mukherjee and Shah Rukh Khan rehearse together.

    Through light but sensitive comedies such as Rajnigandha, Gol maal, Baaton Baaton Mein, Gharonda and Chhoti Se Baat, Amol became our Charlie Brown. But unlike the Schulz’s cartoon character, Palekar did get to kick the football.



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