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The Rediff Interview / Madhur Bhandarkar
'My films tend to be dark'
January 21, 2005
Madhur Bhandarkarhas not had a good 2004, what with the dismal fate of his last film, Aan: Men At Work and the fact that he was charged with rape.
But the Chandni Bar director seems to have risen from the ashes to bring forth his new film, Page 3. The movie, starring Konkona Sensharma and a host of other actors, releases on January 21.
Bhandarkar tells Correspondent Patcy N more about it.
Tell us aboutPage 3.
Page 3is a simple story of a journalist and her point of view of the rich and famous, the glamour of page three journalism and how she is tied up in a superficial world.
I know it is difficult making a film based on a small concept. But I believe in taking chances. Even in Chandni Bar and Satta, I explored those areas which had not been touched. It is one thing that the budget for such movies is small -- about Rs 2 crores to Rs 2.5 crores (Rs 20 million to Rs 25 million).
But when you make a film with a small budget, you can experiment with it. The audience must see something innovative in the film also. Whether the film will work or not is not in my hands. I made the film with conviction and everybody has given a brilliant performance.
I have never tried to make formula films. I try to make different cinema, so there are risks.
Why did you cast Konkona Sensharma?
I had seen her film, Mr And Mrs Iyer and she had been in touch with me. She had admired Chandni Bar and Satta and she wanted to work with me. I told her that if something comes up, I would let her know.
When I got this Page 3 idea, initially I didn't know from whose point of view we should centre the film. Should it be the driver's point of view, an old socialite telling her story, a waiter's point of view.
Once after a party, I was walking on the road and I saw a photographer and a journalist catching an auto. You know, I saw this journalist and photographer chatting with celebrities at the party, but at the end of the day, it's only work for them. That really struck to me. So I thought why not the journalist?
I did not want a movie in flashback. I wanted a contemporary look. I didn't wanted a old journalist telling his story. I wanted a young journalist who has been on this beat for only six months.
I thought Konkona would be the ideal choice because she looks like one who parties at night, and then takes the train home. I like that contrast in life.
Did you base her character on anyone?
I have taken events from journalists I have interacted with and my friends. But her character is fictional. I took Konkona to (media) offices. I gave her nuances but let her act the way she wanted. I wanted Madhavi Sharma -- her character -- to stand out.
Was it easy for her to say her dialogues in Hindi?
Yes. My movies have short dialogues. But she was very good at the way she said her dialogues. She has a good grasping power so it was easy for me.
During the dubbing, I had to sit with her. Sometimes, her Bengali accent became obvious but I rectified it.
As for her performance, there is no question that she has given an brilliant performance.
Atul Kulkarni featured in Chandni Bar and Satta. He was missing in Aan, and the film didn't do well either critically or commercially. Is he your lucky mascot?
No, nothing like that. I have a very good rapport with Atul. In Chandni Bar, he played a don and in Satta, he played a savvy politician.
For Page 3, I wanted a crime beat journalist and I thought of Atul immediately. I am very comfortable working with him. Even though the role is small, he has done it well.
Who are the other actors in the film?
Boman Irani plays the newspaper editor. He is amazing. Sandhya Mridul plays an airhostess who has had numerous affairs and wants to marry a rich man and settle down. Tara Sharma plays an upcoming actress who tags along with Konkona to inch her way into the film industry.
Your films are always low budget films. Your only big budget film, Aan, flopped.
Aanwas a commercial film and it was not in my league. Everybody knows that. But Aan did well in B and C centres.
Sometimes, you make a film for the A centres and call it a multiplex film but they do not work in the B and C centres. Then you make a film for B and C centres and people say 'A centre mein nahi chalegi.' I don't understand it. That's why I think I should stick to my kind of cinema, which will give me satisfaction even though the money is less.
Do you think that producers and actors interfere in the subject in big budget films?
The stakes are obviously high in big budget films, so everybody wants to be safe. A film like Page 3 cannot be made with Rs 3 crores (Rs 30 million) because it is an experimental film. But when you make a big budget and big stars, everybody wants to be safe.
There should be songs, comedy, everything. This is not interference but everyone's creative concern.
Will you concentrate on low budget films only in future?
It's not like that. The budget depends on the subject. If the subject needs Rs 8 cores (Rs 80 million), I will make a Rs 8 crores (Rs 80 million) film. But if I feel that it requires less, I will make it in a smaller budget. I have some subjects that can be made in Rs 14 crores (Rs 140 million). I want to make a good action film, but very different from Aan.
Why do you think Aan flopped?
I don't know. I think there was too many cop films released at the same time, with the same honest cops. Aan got lost in that. Otherwise, it would have worked. It was safe film.
Do you have a dream cast for your film?
I would love to work with Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukerji.
How do you choose your story ideas?
I select the concept first. Then, I sit with my writers and we work on it. We work on everything including the first and the last scene.
You seem to be making only socially relevant movies.
It is not a deliberate act. My films tend to be dark like Chandni Bar. Page 3 is also a dark film. I like making realistic films.
But don't you feel you will get type cast in this genre?
I have struggled very hard in my life. From the video library boy, I've become Madhur Bhandarkar. So I feel I should make the I want to, and ten years down the line, I want to see where I stand -- whether I am considered a good or bad director.
So where do you see yourself ten years from now?
I don't know. I am a bad planner. I just want to flow with the stream.
So tell us about your video library days.
I used to study and run a video cassette shop at the same time. I developed a liking for movies. I would watch all the movies in the theatre, first day first show!
I watch all kinds of films -- Manoj Kumar's films, Manmohan Desai's films, Shyam Benegal's films, Govind Nihalani's films etc.
My first film was Trishakti which came and went and no one even knew about it. It took three years to be made. I tried to make a typical commercial film. I was dictated by other people and since it was my first break, I had no choice. Technically, the movie was good and it was appreciated also. It starred Milind Gunaji, Sharad Kapoor and Arshad Warsi.
You are planning a comedy?
Yes, I want to make a comedy. I am still planning, nothing has been decided yet. I will first write it, and then cast my actors. It will be a comic thriller.
What about your next social theme be?
I want to make a film on a mistress, her life from her point of view. It will not be like Arth because Arth was from the wife's point of view.
What kind of films do you like to watch?
I like all Guru Dutt's films.
Who are your favourite actors?
I have always been a great fan of Dev Anand. I like Kamal Haasan a lot too. Earlier, I used to like Mumtaz and Nutan. Now, everyone is good -- Rani Mukerji, Kareena Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai.
You were recently accused of rape. Will this affect your work and personal life?
I don't think so. Life has been as normal as it was before. Yes, there was tension during those days. It was nightmarish. But I think the industry and my family have supported me a lot.
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