Crowning Role

Upendra had earlier worked with noted director Rajiv Patil in films ‘Savarkhed: Ek Gaav’ and ‘Blind Game’ and had developed a great rapport with him. And the director himself, an admirer of Upendra’s talent and his integrity, had harboured the idea of giving him a ‘lifetime role.’ That happened around 2008 when Patil was asked to do a new film called ‘Jogwa.’ He selected Upendra for the lead role.

It was a challenging role, of a man forced by tradition and social pressure, to wear a woman’s clothes and live as a woman in the service of a Goddess. Apparently, there was a great risk, too. If the role failed, the whole picture could sink. But as was his credo, Upendra gave the role everything he had, acutely conscious of the great responsibility on his shoulder. Luckily, all aspects of film making came together perfectly, including the actor’s special chemistry with the director. The rest was history.

When released in 2009, ‘Jogwa’ marked a milestone in Marathi cinema. It bagged 6 National Film awards, including the Best Male Actor award for Upendra, the first time in 56 years a Marathi film and a Marathi actor so honoured with the distinction. The film went on to win over 40 other awards.

Upendra has always believed that focusing on the inner character of a role, as much as the outer, is crucial to giving a good performance. In ‘Jogwa,’ he feels he “could have easily overplayed the role, become melodramatic. But I understood the character’s temperament and decided to convey his inner conflict, his rage and resistance in a restrained, controlled manner, conveying the storm of his emotions through expressions and gestures rather than words. And it worked.”