Monday, May 27, 2024

I don’t belong to any lobbyists of filmmakers: Madhur Bhandarkar

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Ace director Madhur Bhandarkar is known for his independent flicks, and has wooed the audience with his stories. In an exclusive chat with The Pioneer, the renowned director speaks about highlighting the pandemic spirits with India Lockdown, the subjects of his films, and much more.

Shikha Duggal

Did you know who was the assistant director for the iconic film Rangeela starring Aamir Khan, Urmila Matondkar and Jackie Shroff in the lead?

It was none other than the renowned  director Madhur Bhandarkar who worked as an AD to Ram Gopal Varma on Rangeela.Today, the same assistant director is a conqueror of the civilian honour Padma Shri. How the tables change, right?

The director recently brought us another path-breaking movie, by walking with the trend on OTT, the director paints stories of pandemic spirits named India Lockdown Zee5. In an exclusive conversation with us, we hear how he brought these anthologies together with some brilliant competent actors!

“I wanted to show the human drama between the lines.The most important compendium was the story of sex workers for me, which wasn’t highlighted by our indian media at all. I convinced Shweta Basu Prasad to play the specific role coming from Kamathipura and everything is based on facts, there is no fiction here. A socially unacceptable occupation was left stranded during the pandemic! Everyone were watching the bright spots of the pandemic, my focus was on the shadows.”

Madhur Bhandarkar worked in a video cassette library in a suburb of Mumbai, and that gave him access to a large collection of movies and he studied film-making through it. An intelligent filmmaker was born! A film that made him win his first national award: Chandni Bar, it happened because a wealthy friend of his once took him to a ladies bar. Even though Madhur was not a recognised face back then, he became conscious as he didn’t want anyone to see him there. His first experience of the bar was seeing women dance to Mungda and Do Ghunt Mujhe Bhi Pila De Sharaabi in bright, colourful clothes and a room packed with people smoking. He left the place early, but that image stayed with him.

It haunted him and left him intrigued about who these girls really are. He had spoiled his friend’s evening, but he wanted to go there again, so he requested him for another round. He didn’t have the money to go to bars every day. When his friend asked Madhur why he wanted to go there again, he told him that that visual bothered him and he wanted to observe some more. And there he made his national award winning film with  Tabu!

Moving on, “My current script was being readied in the lockdown only. I had twelve tracks in my mind, but as I mentioned before my importance went to the sex-workers community without a doubt. I wanted to give them the maximum screen-space because I wasn’t making a film, I was documenting the reality. Though they were strands that we all came across in newspapers, I injected them with flesh, blood and some dark humour.”

Madhur was also conferred Zenith Asia award for significantly shaping the film making culture in his unique works and he has been described as the Filmmaker of the First Decade of the 21st Century. Interesting!

He continued, “I am always interested in showing two stratas of society: downtrodden and the privileged. My treatment of subjects is usually high-pitched. I was seeking to underline that human behaviour doesn’t change even during a crisis. Our society is not just about the elitists, so it’s my duty as a filmmaker to even showcase the sickening reality that marginalised communities undergo.”  

There was another film that bagged him a national award: Page 3! This movie addressed the theme of media of 2005, where more coverage seems to have been given to the events, parties and people in the limelight, than to the stories that needed more awareness. This shows the script writer is so connected to current affairs and doesn’t shy away from bringing them to the forefront just like India Lockdown.

“To make hyperlink cinema is a very difficult task (he takes a sigh of relief). Fragmented narratives became a favourite area of experimentation for me. Though the plots were composite, there was no evident central character! However it’s an independent style of filmmaking which I love and rarely shown, so it was a challenge at the same time.”

Bhandarkar hails from a Marathi and Konkani speaking family. He is a school drop-out! As a result, Madhur had to take up various jobs. He also sold chewing gum at traffic signals, nonetheless he has had a satisfying journey today.

He asserts, “I am known for hard-hitting subjects, but I am a happy-go-lucky guy in real life. I really enjoyed the making of every film, which also has a good message about the empowerment of women. There were times when the subjects I chose for my movies weren’t being backed by producers, they were apprehensive that it may cause a stir in the country. They always wanted commercial elements, and not social. I don’t belong to any lobbyists of filmmakers, I’ll continue to only make independent cinema and I know they are loved. To prove it, one can see not only my national but international awards too.

I do’’t like to be in the cacophony of B-town, I’ll rather choose to travel and consume stories naturally. Neither do I recommend actors in this industry. I only cast a proficient lot from the stars that we have and the ones that will continue to enter in the industry.”

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