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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Madhur Bhandarkar's brand of slickly-packaged-realism cinema is one that is all his own.

Madhur Bhandarkar
Madhur Bhandarkar
In a conversation with Pratishtha Malhotra, the director of Chandni Bar, Page 3, Fashion, and now Heroine, attributes much of his success to luck even as he admits to being sensitive to box office returns.

Looking back, there were a lot of hurdles you faced in the course of making Heroine. Do you consider this to be one of the toughest films of your career?
No, no... I think all’s well that ends well. The film is very essential for me. I am very happy with the way the movie has shaped up, very excited…

What is the budget of the film like? What about promotions and marketing?
The budget of the film is about 22-23 crores. Promotion and marketing is very important in today’s day and age. Marketing was estimated to be another 10 crore. We hope to get good price from the satellite, and we have also joined a lot of brands that Kareena endorses, so expecting at least 13-15 crores from there. We are safe that way.

Which aspect of a heroine’s life intrigued you the most?
I think a lot of aspects; there is not just one. The film is not about a single celebrity. It is about coping with people on a day to day basis – the love interest of their life, the media, the marketing people and the PR agencies. So there are a lot of things which they have to handle on a day to day basis.

After Fashion, why the subject of Heroine?
It was always there on my mind. I always wanted to make a film talking about the politics in today’s film industry. I did not want to make a film on a yesteryears actress or a period film. I wanted to make something contemporary.

Between critical acclaim and box office success, what is it that you focus on when envisioning a film?
The first and foremost priority is box office success. I am sitting and giving you this interview because my film is successful at the box office. Success is very essential for me. The film should work at the box office, and then critical acclaim will follow. The awards are definitely later on. But it cannot be a conscious decision. You cannot customise a film thinking that this will work well with the audience and this will work well with the critics and this will get a national award. No. A film is made with a lot of conviction and hard work. I have made different films, but I am lucky that I got both box office success and critical acclaim. It is very difficult to get all aspects right for any film maker.

Do you feel your films have proven to be turning points in many an actor’s career?
I do not know. I just work with my instincts. It has been almost 11 years for me in the industry. I am very happy with the kind of success, the kind of appreciation, the kind of box office successes, and the four national awards that I have received. I think it has been a great journey. I always make a film the way I want it.

Did you have any trouble with the Censor Board over Heroine?
No, I did not face any problems with the Censor Board at all with Heroine. There was an instance when they wanted to put a warning about cigarette smoking at the bottom of the screen, but we won the case at the Delhi High Court. The Censor Board liked the film. They did not cut even one single shot, nor did they mute any dialogues. There are some words used in the film which we thought would be muted or some scenes that we thought will be cut. But absolutely no changes were made. They did not touch a single frame!

I think that the Censor Board has been very liberal and moderate about this film.

What, according to you, is the best thing about your heroine?
The best thing about my heroine Mahi (played by Kareena) is that it’s the first time I’ve made a very complex character. She’s very complex, very edgy; she is layers within layers; she reacts to situations: at one moment, she’s very fragile and lovable and in the next, she’s cunning and manipulative. So I have changed the character according to my situations. This is something new for my actress as it has never been done before in my movies. It always has been one-dimensional. But in this movie, all of a sudden you’ll feel ‘Oh my god! What is she up to’, while you also notice her fragility. That’s the beauty of this character.

When is your next film expected?
I don’t know. Let me see the reaction that Heroine gets. I really don’t know. I am so much into Heroine right now. I want to get feedback and responses. For the first time, it is a completely different cinema. It obviously has the Madhur Bhandarkar stamp on it.

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