On a high on the well-deserved success of INDU SARKAR, director MADHUR BHANDARKAR and actor KIRTI KULHARI take out some time to get chatty with Citadel…
Filmmaker MADHUR BHANDARKAR and his heroine KIRTI KULHARI have grabbed the attention of the nation with their hard-hitting, critically acclaimed film INDU SARKAR. Here, Madhur and Kirti speak to Sumita Chakraborty about their journey in Tinsel Town, the serpentine twists and turns they’ve faced in life to achieve success, and much more…
He’ s undoubtedly one of Bollywood’s best directors and his lms are gritty, real, and incredibly thought-provoking. From a whole host of ‘real’ lms including Chandni Bar, Fashion, Heroine, Corporate and now Indu Sarkar… over the years, he has successfully mirrored the harsh realities of life – warts and all - through his hard-hitting films. No wonder he’s been called the all-season ‘director par excellence’. She, on the other hand, has proved that she’s not just a pretty face and has showcased her amazing acting prowess in her lm Indu Sarkar. And, how! Meet India’s most realistic director Madhur Bhandarkar who has proved his mettle with every lm he’s made. And of course, not to forget the heroine of his lm Indu Sarkar, the gorgeous Kirti Kulhari, who has won hearts and much accolades with her performance as the protagonist. Bold, unabashed and brutally honest, filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar and Kirti Kulhari eld our questions with utter aplomb. Read on as they speak about their lm, success and more…
Indu Sarkar has got immense critical acclaim. Madhur, are you happy with the appreciation you have received?
I made Indu Sarkar for a niche audience, and I’m very happy that I have been appreciated so much. I think Indu Sarkar will be one lm that will always stand out for posterity. In fact, I have even been told that when people talk about Emergency, they will automatically think of Indu Sarkar. Today, I feel vindicated that the struggle and ght I went through was worth it. I’m happy that the people who the lm was targetted for understood and loved it. So it was all worth it. Today, Indu Sarkar is still going strong – and despite big lms releasing – the lm is standing tall. I’m now being invited to numerous lm festivals across the world and I will be taking the lm there.
Madhur, four National Awards, a Padmashri, critical acclaim, box ofce success, you have shown the world that you are indeed a powerful director… How has the journey been for you? Has this changed you as a person?
No, I have not changed as a person. People who know me closely are aware that I am the same guy who hails from a middle-class family, who used to run a video library, who still relishes vada pav and pani puri. Success and awards have not changed me. The lm industry is an extremely supercial world and I understand its practicality. And I am a level-headed person, so my success has never gone to my head. I have seen hell in my life, but I have always been a ghter. More so, when I believe in something, no matter what, I stand by it. Of course, I do get stressed out, but I always have a smile plastered on my face. And yes, I can duel the odds. I belong to the number ‘8’ bracket, and so my life has always been a struggle. But that has made me stronger. And I can ght my battles well.
Bollywood has so many camps. Do you believe in them?
Honestly speaking, I am absolutely a one man’s show. I don’t have a coterie or belong to one. I don’t belong to any camp. According to me, my work reects the message that I want to put across. And I can do that very well on my own.
You have been a blessed lmmaker in terms of awards and rewards. What is important to you - awards or rewards? I think rst toh reward chahiye, kyuki picture chalegi toh fayda hota hai. Awards are denitely complimentary. Rewards are awards kyuki jab film chalti hai, it doesn’t only benet the lmmaker, but the actors and everyone who has been associated with it. But of course, I am indebted to the people who have found me worthy of giving an award to. Your subjects are always bold and hard-hitting. Why pick these kinds of topics? People always think that Madhur takes up issues through which he tries to do some kind of khulasa or parda phash. I feel that my lms are neither judgemental nor preachy. I give the audience what they want to see. I am one of those very few lmmakers in India who has got critical acclaim and at the same time, had box ofce success. I am very content in life as my needs are very less. Kirti, how has your journey been - from your rst lm Khichdi to Pink to the latest Indu Sarkar?
The journey has been long. Khichdi released in 2010 and now it’s 2017. If I talk about it in terms of how I wanted the journey to be, then it hasn’t exactly been like what I wanted it to be. I think the success that I got now post Pink, agar jald hi mil jaata, Khichdi
aur Shaitaan ke time pe, then by now I would have done much more work and the kind of work I like. In my journey, I have had my share of lows, disappointments, and rejections. At the same time, I have also grown a lot as an actor in these last seven years, from
my rst lm to Indu Sarkar. As I said, if I would have gotten this success six years back, I would have been happier. And the reason I say that I have grown as an actor is because each time I was not doing films, I was working on myself as an actor. I was doing theatre continuously on the side. How was it working with Madhur Bhandarkar?
Well, I will surely cherish the whole experience of Indu Sarkar. Because Indu Sarkar has given me the most challenging role I have ever played. I always wanted to work with Madhur, because I think he is one lmmaker who has consistently made lms with a female protagonist, which is quite rare in our industry. And Madhur has gone against the tide and done that
consistently. So I have a lot of respect for him. And Madhur is in his element more than ever, because he is so much into the lm, and it’s a very important lm for him as well. It’s the easiest shoot environment I have experienced myself in. Madhur and I are closer from where we started, we are great friends. We share a great bond I am sure it’ll go beyond Indu Sarkar.
Madhur, is there any formula for success that you believe in?
There is no formula for making a hit lm. What works, you never know. Trust me, one Friday, the game changes, the fate changes. One Friday, enemies change, and the other, friends change. Yaha pe superstars ki bhi picture nahi chalti. So you go with your gut feeling. I have been very fortunate that by and large, 70 per cent of my movies have worked at t he box office. Another reason for my movie working is because I control the budget. That is my mantra. I am a producers’ director.
A lot of controversies pop up, especially for your lms. Why?
People have a problem with a lot of things. Some people want to blacken my face, throw chappals at me… I have even received a lot of lovely legal letters. I am a family man; I have a wife and daughter and want them to be safe. I know this is something that keeps popping up - even when I’d made Heroine, people, especially in the Hindi film industry, were upset about me showing them in a ‘bad light’. Indu Sarkar is 70 per cent ction 30 per cent facts. Doordarshan has already made a ve-part episode on it. How can I change things that have already taken place? My lm is about a girl who stammers, played by Kirti Kulhari, who rebels against the system,
joins underground activities and is ideologically against her husband. The film is about a husband-wife conict. I would understand if I had said I made a lm or a documentary on the Emergency. But that’s not true. The political ambience was just the backdrop. My lm isn’t political.
Kirti, you on the other hand, have never been a part of any kind of controversy. How come?
Firstly, I don’t think I have been big enough for people to write about me or know about what is happening in my life. And when I did become big, I got married, so sorry…(laughs) But
having said that, I think it’s been a very conscious choice to stay away from controversies. Even in terms of social media, people ask me my opinions randomly. I nd that ridiculous because I don’t want to give my opinions on any and everything. There are some things that I have opinions on, but there are so many others, I don’t have any opinions on. And considering so many people are giving opinions, I don’t want to add to that club of opinions. I like to keep my life very simple. There is home and work, and I love both. I want to be able to live a normal life as well. And if that requires me to stay away from controversies, yes, I will. I love my peace of mind, and I don’t want anything to get in the way.
Do you think after marriage, a heroine’s career graph goes down?
My career graph has actually gone really up after I got married. People nd the ‘availability’ tag of a singleton appealing in Bollywood. And I do get the vibe sometimes that being married is like being ‘not available’. But does it matter to me? Not really… When I thought I found the guy I wanted to get married to, I got married without making a big deal out of it. I would rather not have those people around me who think being married is less sexy or less appealing. If they want to give me roles on the basis of being single… Well then, I am good wherever I am.
Madhur, Indu Sarkar has faced numerous cuts. But this isn’t something new for your lms. What is your take on censorship?
I’ve always had a problem with the way the censorship functions, irrespective of the regimes. It is a fact that if a lm gets an ‘A’ Certicate, it does limited business. The lm Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji was really entertaining, but was passed with an A Certicate only because of the use of the word ‘virgin’. The same Censor Board passed Page 3 and Traffic Signal with a U/A Certicate. Mind you, they had scenes with people taking drugs in them. Whereas these are t he lms I’ve won National Awards for. Even when Heroine was out, they said I’d have to release it with a disclaimer - ‘Cigarette smoking is i njurious to health.’ They can be ridiculous at times! But for Indu Sarkar I appealed and I was very happy that the jury understood my lm. So here I am!
Kirti & Madhur at a promotional event
Madhur with his Heroine lead, Kareena Kapoor Khan
...with his Fashion cast Kangna Ranaut, Mugdha Godse & Priyanka Chopra
...with ex-President Pranab Mukherjee
...with his cast of Calendar Girls