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From the time he was approached by director Mansingh Pawar for the film Night School, actor Sandeep Kulkarni has spent a considerable amount of time visiting night schools in Andheri and Sion, speaking to the teachers and students there. The experience has been a revelation for the actor who had not given any thought to the concept of night schools in the past. "The students face several challenges that we are unaware of. Despite that, they are keen on learning and getting educated. It is a pity that no one even knows their story," says the actor who plays the lead role in the upcoming Marathi film Night School, written and directed by Pawar.
The film explores the difficulties faced in night schools, including lack of funds, shortage of teaching staff and the pressure to work till wee hours. In an effort to keep the story simple and closer to reality, the film has been shot in actual schools in Chinchwad in Pune and Andheri in Mumbai. "We never think about how they function or how hard the teachers and students have to work. Hopefully, the film will make people aware of their challenges," says the actor, who has won national awards for Marathi films like Shwaas, Dombivali Fast and Hindi film Traffic Signal.
Kulkarni's character, who is called Deshpande in the film, is a popular and award-winning professor in a well-equipped school, whose students consistently pass with distinction. However, one day someone challenges him to replicate the same academic performance in a night school. Thereon, he encounters several hurdles, including gaining the trust of the students. The professor has to leave his former teaching techniques and make do with limited tools and students who are already tired after an entire day at work.
"As a citizen, this movie has given me the opportunity to learn more about night schools. As an artist too, I am grateful that I had the chance to be a part of this project. The subject is very real and moving and it is projects like this that have changed the Marathi film industry," says Kulkarni.