May 8, 2003

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Bollywood's Veteran actor, Amol Palekar's latest film,'Anaahat' (Eternity), a Marathi period drama resonates with contemporary issues and debates.

Women sexuality... is not often tried openly in the film industry. But giving it a clear -cut way is verteran actor, Amol Palekar, who has been especially successful in bringing out the women's voice in his offbeat films.

His new Marathi venture 'Anaahat', an adaption from Surendra Varma's Hindi play 'Surya Ki Antim Kiran Se Surya Ki Pehli Kiran Tak”, explores the relationship of a 10th century queen and her impotent husband.

Anaahat,' the second part of an evolving trilogy that began with 'Daayra”, dealing with male sexuality, touches upon female sexuality.' ' Daayra', made in Hindi with Nirmal Pandey and Sonali Kulkarni in the lead, was listed among the Top Ten films of 1996 by Time magazine.

Palekar however, refuses to term it as a film meant to excite audience with sex scenes.

'I am not taking about sex...In fact if I may say so, most of our films ooze out sex. And in some of the films it's done very vulgarly. I am not talking about sex, I am not talking about titilation, I am not talking about exciting you through sexy scenes. No, I am talking about sexuality...I am talking about understanding what is a male sexuality. When you say male sexuality, what are the layers that come with that. When I talk of female sexuality, a woman being aware of her sexual desires, she being aware of the fact that what makes her a woman,' he said.

And to play the character of Queen of Shravasti, Palekar has ropped in Bollywood's leggy actress Sonali Bendre, who gets her first break into 'art' films and her first film in Marathi, her mother tongue.

Deepti Naval and Anant Nag complete the rest of the cast. Palekar is full of praise for Bendre.

'Sonali has to begin with a very classical beauty and which is needed for the film. Very interesting aspect is that along with classical beauty, she also has a very contemporary look, which is a very rare kind of combination, which is what I needed for the film. Right from the beginning I had no other name in my mind. We thought only of Sonali Bendre. Along with the glamour, the glitter, the classical beauty and all that...Sonali has given such a marvellous performance, 'absolutely breathtaking' is the word. And the way she worked, the way she just gave everything she could.... or even I would say that she gave something, which probably she had never imagined that she was capable of giving,'said Palekar.

Palekar uses Dhrupad music as a thread that runs through the entire, shot in 18 days flat on locations in and around the historical sites of Hampi.

But, with themes like this, considered sensitive in the industry, how far it will be accepted by the audience, only the time will tell when the film hits the floors in June.

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