Despite language limitations, Marathi films have achieved a sort of excellence in both themes and characters, so much so that they are on par with any other language films. This is because, the Kolhapur-based Marathi film industry has high tradition of studios, character-actors, directors, cameramen as also other technicians. Chandrakant Mandare, who died recently at the age of 88, had developed a unique style in presenting varied characters in general and that of Patil in particular. A Patil in a rural rustic atmosphere is a hero and also a villain, as and when he is expected to play the role specific to a theme. Chandrakant was more of a hero and that too presenting all aspects of Patil’s character in a theme, whether it relates to social life in villages or in stories depicting life and characters in the Maharashtrian folk art, better known as tamasha.
He played the Patil in the first Marathi film with a rural theme, Jay Malhar. He played Ram in Bharat Bhet and Ravan in Swayanwar Zale Seeteche. It was Chandrakant’s dedication to his role and inherent traits of a character, which secured a certain high standard in roles he played in various films. In Earsha, produced by his brother Suryakant, Chandrakant played a typical Patil and Chandrakant Gokhale, veteran actor played the role of peculiar Kulkarni, better known as Pant in villages. The best theme depicting rivalry between the Patil and the Kulkarni in a village where both are highly respected and their struggle and confrontation is also appreciated. But despite rivalry, both the Patil and the Kulkarni are more friends than rivals in times of crisis. Although the film did not get box-office success, it has created history in Marathi films.
Two traits of Chandrakant’s personality are rare, in any film industry. The first is that everyday he was writing a diary, recording all events in his life as also his reactions and interpretations. His diary, which he wrote even on the morning of the day when he died, has been a treasure not only of personal aspects of an actor’s life, but authentic record of the Marathi film industry, particularly as Chandrakant could visualise and record in details.
His series of autobiographical articles entitled Deva Shapath Khare Lihin (On Oath before God, I write the truth) published in a local Marathi Daily Sakal proved to be quite interesting, and decently exposing events and personalities which characterised not only Chandrakant’s life, but also a considerable and prominent portion of development of the industry.
Another remarkable quality is Chandrakant’s inclination as also mastery in art of painting. Nature was his eternal subject for painting. Besides natural scenery in and around Kolhapur, other significant spots in the country and abroad, where he visited, have been a source of his inspiration which excited his artistic talents to shape them into a beautiful paintings. He traveled from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and also America. The world famous Niagara Falls has also been his visual pleasure and his painting of the falls is as bewitching as the actual falls. He surrendered all treasures of his various pictures, mostly landscapes, to the State Government which is now managing the museum, an eternal monument of art of painting of a renowned actor in films.
Contented in his personal life, shared by his dedicated wife Shashikala,
Chandrakant was quite active upto the last moment. Only a few days before his death, he inaugurated an exhibition of a local photographer’s photos and attended a maifil of colour and musical notes arranged by Rangbahar, the institution which arranges maifils every year where prominent singers enthrall the atmosphere with specific emotional currents of raagas and prominent painters are inspired to display their impression of raagas. Late Baburao Painter was his Guru and inspiration.
Chandrakant wanted the Kolhapur Chitranagri to be named after his guru, Baburao Painter. He was most disturbed when attempts were strategically made to name it after Bhalji Pendharkar instead of Baburao Painter, who according to him, was the only and proper person to grace the Chiranagari by his name.