Slices Of Life With Renuka Shahane
Man's World|February 2021
From a much loved anchor of Antakshari to being the perfect Rajshri bahu in the ’90s, Renuka Shahane evokes nostalgia for the good old days, and with her latest directorial debut, she’s marching with today’s time
Jigar Shah

I still remember the first time I watched Hum Aapke Hain Koun…! at Liberty Theatre in Mumbai, clear as day. Didi Tera Dewar played on the screen, and the audience was dancing in the isles. One of the reasons I fell in love with the film was Renuka Shahane's powerhouse smile and hearty laughter. When her character, Pooja, died in the film, audiences across the country mourned the loss. The reactions are the same even today when the film is telecast on TV every Sunday. Lately, she broke the internet when she revealed that the deathly staircase was made of a sponge, and she didn't even get hurt while filming the scene.

Shahane has turned over a new leaf, and made her directorial debut in Hindi with Tribhanga, starring Kajol. Tribhanga is a story of three women who choose to live life on their own terms and the impact of their choices on each other. The three belong to the same family but are from different generations.

Tribhanga is not her first film as a director. She had made a Marathi film called Rita, based on her mother Shanta Gokhale's book Rita Welingkar, in 2009. It took her 12 years to direct her next film. Tribhanga is my first original screenplay, and I began writing it in 2013. I'm slow as a tortoise because it's challenging to find that balance between work and home, she confesses.

She continues, “Back in 2013, I wrote a few pages of my script and took it to Mumbai Mantra Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab, where my script was mentored and honed by senior writers. After coming back from there, I took a while to complete the script as something or other would crop up — work-wise, or in the family.”

In 2016, Shahane took the film to NFDC's co-production market, and a producer showed interest in her script. “We were very close to signing on the dotted line, but everything came crashing down. In 2018, I met Siddharth P Malhotra, who was starting his own film company, and asked me if I had a script. I narrated Tribhanga, and at first I was not sure if this is the kind of script he would want to produce, but he loved the script. In fact, it was his suggestion to cast Kajol as Anu. Post that, everything fell in place, and we got Ajay Devgn, Banijay, and Parag Desai on board,” she recalls.

Shahane believes one of the benefits of being an actor-director, is an added sense of trust. There are certain tricks you can incorporate to get the best performance from your cast. I've been an actor too, and I know how the mind of an actor works. Actors are like clay, waiting to be molded at the hands of the directors,” she explains.

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