Keshav’s world revolves around his sparkling yellow cycle. The warm-hearted fortune-teller lovingly shares stories of his bicycle with his young daughter and never steps out without it. What happens when the cycle is stolen? This love story between a man and his humble two-wheeler forms the crux of Prakash Kunte’s upcoming Marathi film Cycle.
“It could have been anything. It could have been a pen or a scooter. But the cycle has a certain charm,” Kunte told Scroll.in in an interview. A yellow bicycle adorned with string lights was also the highlight of the press event for the film in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Written by Aditi Moghe, Cycle is set in 1958, and stars Hrishikesh Joshi, Priyadarshan Jadhav and Bhalchandra Kadam. The May 4 release has been produced by Happy Minds Entertainment and Viacom18 Motion Pictures.
While the film reflects contemporary concerns, Kunte felt the 1950s were better suited to the story. “In Marathi there is a term called ‘bapda’ and a rough translation of that can be ‘innocence’,” Kunte explained. “Probably in that time, the innocence in people was better than how it is today. That was the assumption. We wanted to carry forward this assumption and place the film in that period.”
Moghe, who wrote the script and then approached Kunte to direct it, was of the same opinion. “It had to be a period film because the importance of cycles at that time was more than ever,” she said. “Now cycles are available in abundance.”
For Moghe, compassion was another feature of that period. “I was also raised in a fairytale-esque, ideal environment where everyone is nice and takes care of everybody, where the world is beautiful,” she said. “I belonged to people who believed in goodness. And that is how I wanted to do something that is about the beauty of goodness. Because that is all I have known.”
The goodness of the characters stood out for Kunte too when he read the screenplay. “The main character is a very good man,” Kunte said. “So when he loses his cycle, his villagers too grieve along with him. The thieves too are good people in their own way. The way the characters in the film behave is very ideal. There is an assumed goodness in people. Nowadays there is not much innocence left in the world.”
Moghe drew the idea of the film from her father, who too is a bicycle enthusiast. “My father happens to be someone who loves cycles,” Moghe said. “Right now there are about three cycles in my house. He has been obsessed with cycles for the past 25 years now. But he has lost a few and those were stolen. Generally when you lose something, you get over it in two or three days. You feel bad for it but you move on. But he never moved on. That was the key to my story.”
In Kunte’s film, the cycle has profound meaning. “Be it a rich person or a poor person, he or she would have driven a cycle at least once in their lives,” Kunte said. “That is how we centred the story on the cycle. Moreover the cycle was used widely at the time and now it is slowly coming back. The cycle is a metaphorical element in the film, but I cannot reveal what the metaphor signifies.”
Moghe first collaborated with Kunte on his 2015 debut, Coffee Ani Barach Kahi. “The equation with him is such that any story that comes to my head, I share it with him because we began the journey of filmmaking together,” Moghe said. “Somehow in my head I wanted both of us to do this project together. He wasn’t very sure to do it initially because it is a little difficult to handle this subject because it is a period film. You have a lot of limitations in terms of shooting style.”