By Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
Traffic Signal (TS) has opened poorly overseas.
Yes, it's a little weak. But TS isn't targeted at the overseas
market. There're no stars in the film. Rest everywhere it's doing very
It takes audacity to make a de-glam product in this day and age.
Yes and I shot in real sunlight. Bahut himmat ki zaroorat hai. TS
came in face of films with a heavy gloss. I'm proud to do a slice-of-
life work. But if you see my career from Chandni Bar to TS, I've always
explored various less glamorous aspects of life. I'm not a commercial
filmmaker at all. My films don't make 100 crores at the box office. I
keep experimenting with various aspects of life. And I deserve credit
at least for moving away from the clichés of our cinema.
Your films also require financial audacity.
I never had a problem getting producers once Chandni Bar was
released. Whether it's Satta or Corporate, I never had to struggle for
a producer. None of my films ever lost money. Everyone earns money.
You're accused of selling grass roots to the audience.
But Page 3 and Corporate were about the elite class. That was a
deliberate attempt to move away from the grass-root image.
But there's a fixed formula to your cinema—clutching at a large
gathering of characters, capturing them with their pants down within
their given socio-political sphere.
Agreed. But at least grant me the credit for exploring different
themes and characters. At least I'm original. I've received at least
400 SMS since TS released. People are praising me for having the guts
to make a film without stars, rustic and very real. I don't even have a
hit song in the film. Still I'm happy by the response.
The reviews have been pretty mixed.
But that's the story of my career! The reviewers didn't even spare
my Chandni Bar. They said it was bleak and pessimistic. Page 3, they
said was like an ongoing party. For Corporate they said it was filled
with trade jargon.
Strange considering how far you've taken mainstream cinema.
Whatever I've achieved has been on my own. I had no godfathers or
patron-saints in the film industry. I know there's hostility towards
There're many other directors from the outside for whom there's no
I don't know why it's there. But I know there's hostility towards
me. I'm treated like an orphan in the film industry. But at the end of
the day I'm happy because my producers are making money and I get to
make the films I want.
You're also victimized at the awards.
Initially I used to get upset about it. Now it's okay. I agree
Chandni Bar and Page 3 got a raw deal at the popular awards. But both
films got the National award. To me that's more precious.
You've got money and popularity…
Money, I haven't got. But I'm definitely happy by the recognition
and the success of my films. When I look back I see this filmmaker who
made a film called Trishakti. When I see my movies I feel I've really
achieved a lot. One flop and I'd be back in the doldrums. I'm very
happy doing what I'm doing. People say Madhur is an offbeat filmmaker.
I don't mind that. I know how people respond to me at a shopping mall
or on the streets. That's my biggest reward and award. Beyond that I'm
not a filmy person. I'm into my own world and my own cinema. I've very
few friends in the industry. I haven't worked with big stars.
But you've worked with Tabu and Raveena Tandon.
Yeah, but I was accused of making woman-oriented films. There's
always a sense of discrimination against me. If I've a subject for
Hrithik or Abhishek I'd definitely work with male stars. In fact TS is
my first film with a male protagonist. I'm happy Kunal Khemu has been
appreciated. People now know that Madhur can make a male-oriented
Your casting is impeccable.
See, once I read the script I cast according to characters. In TS
I've cast real eunuchs and beggars. I've even cast people from my unit.
And the two insurance agents who get beaten up by Sudhir Mishra are
played by Joe Rajan who's a travel agency owner and G.K Desai, a
producer of English movies. They also acted as party crashers in Page
3. Hence the dialogue for them in TS, "Arrey yaar, we earlier used to
splurge on free drinks at Page 3 parties. Now we're insurance
People missed that in- house joke.
Yeah Page 3 came two years ago.
I found Sudhir Mishra wooden.
I wanted him to deadpan throughout the film. I wanted him to be
himself on screen. I think he's commendable.
Some portions in TS have been found to be vulgar.
You mean the pervert who touches up the beggar? I've done research
and know such things happen. Reality, they say, bites. People can't
take the harsh reality. We had to tone down the sexual content for the
censors and audience. Well-to do perverts on cars do happen at traffic