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'Raveena has outdone herself'
Anjum N |
February 20, 2003 13:24 IST
"Did you like Satta?" asks director Madhur Bhandarkar, without waiting for the first question.
"The film has received very good reviews,'' he adds enthusiastically. "‘Have you read those?" he asks again, forgetting he is supposed to do the answering.
Bhandarkar's glee is not unfounded. Most critics in the print and online media have appreciated his film. At a time when filmmakers are accusing film reviewers of 'unfairly criticising and tearing apart' movies -- and spoiling their box-office chances -- it is not easy to get favourable reviews everywhere. That is what Satta has managed.
He is more than happy to take it all in. His previous film Chandni Bar had also received a similar welcome. But unlike Chandni Bar, critical praise has not helped Satta rake in better business. The film on a woman's journey into the world of dirty politics is not doing well at the box-office. Tickets have been available in current booking right from the first week.
Remind Bhandarkar about this and he is hardly bothered. "Satta was released along with three other films (Khushi, Baaz -- A Bird In Danger and Freaky Chakra). So collections had to be affected. The World Cup also takes away some audience."
"But the film has started picking up," he says. "Business is getting better in Mumbai and rest of Maharashtra."
If that is the case, why are certain theatres offering tickets on discounted rates to women? One theatre (Premiere in Mumbai) is also reported to offer free tea and snacks to women patrons. "Such decisions are taken by the distributors. Also, certain shows were fully booked by some women's associations," he adds.
"If you have noticed, the movie was advertised as a political film. Of course, the film does deal with politics, but it is a film about a woman's fight against the system. It is more a women's film than a political film. Now that people have realized this -- the reviews helped this happen – collections are picking up," he says.
"I like to portray strong woman characters in my films. Even if it means spoiling the actress," he says with a laugh.
"Tabu still jokes I spoilt her career with Chandni Bar. She received a National Award for the film. After that she got so many offers, but none of the roles matched that of the bargirl Mumtaz. There is no growth beyond that character, she says."
"Anuradha Saigal of Satta is another such role. A dream role for any actress, the best one can ever get," he adds. I have to agree.
"How did you like the performances?" Bhandarkar asks again. I tell him I loved Atul Kulkarni, but thought Raveena Tandon needed to be better in some scenes. "Don't you think Raveena has outdone herself in Satta? She did get a National Award for Daman, but I don't think many people saw that film. Here, she surprised many of her fans who have been expecting only item numbers from her."
He notices his statement hasn't convinced me enough. Probably not wanting to start a controversy by discussing Raveena's performance, he just gives a broad, naughty smile and veers the discussion away.
"People tell me I should not have shown Anuradha's character sleeping with her political guru. They say the Indian audience will not accept it. They tell me some theatre owners in the Hindi belt have even taken off the scene from the movie on their own.
"I don't agree with this. I thought that scene and the one where she takes on the gossiping party activists showed the gray shades in her character. And that is very important for my characters," he adds.
He suddenly comes back to Raveena's performance, perhaps indicating his agreement there could have been a better choice. "Tell me, who do you think would fit the role better? Tabu? Karisma Kapoor? Or should it have been Preity Zinta?" he questions yet again.
"Maybe. Or how about someone without an image? Someone like Sushmita Sen?" I push in a question.
"Sushmita Sen! Yes, I think I should do a film with her too."