Madhur Bhandarkar elated with success of 'Page 3'

By Manisha Deshpande, IANS

imageMumbai, Feb 3 (IANS) Director Madhur Bhandarkar is on top of the world. The box office success of "Page 3" has filled him and his unit with elation.

"The trade mocked at me when I first announced 'Page 3'," says a jubilant Madhur.

The phone at his suburban office just doesn't stop ringing - bringing in news of fresh tidings of the film setting new box-office records at Hyderabad, Chennai, Patna, or smaller places like Mussoorie, reports Bollywood portal Glamsham.

"It is a great feeling. Truly, success is a stimulating experience, which nudges you ahead in life. I am especially happy for the film's distributors, for whom the film has worked wonders," says a jubilant Bhandarkar.

Ironically, this was hardly the kind of response the trade had expected from "Page 3", when it was released two weeks ago against the much-anticipated "Kisna".

Branded as a multiplex film, it was expected to generate little appeal in the smaller towns and interiors, with its metro-centric subject. Cautious distributors however saw their predictions go wrong when the film began to draw packed houses at some of the most unexpected places, even giving the single screen theatres a new lease of life.

So what was the factor that brought the thumping response to "Page 3"?

Bhandarkar, Ashok Ahuja, distribution head, Percept Pictures and Delhi distributor, Sanjay Mehta discuss the success of the film.

Ashok Ahuja, distribution head-Percept Pictures Company, says, "Honestly, I had not expected this kind of a response to the film. I was under the impression that 'Page 3' was clearly a multiplex film that would suit the tastes of the urban audiences but I was truly surprised with the response to the film in the interiors.

"I think the honesty about the film is what made all the difference to its appeal. The darker side of the hi-society that is portrayed in the film has come for a lot of appreciation.

"The film has also proved that star appeal is no more a prerequisite to box-office success. The failure of some recently released star-studded films has proved this beyond doubt. It won't be long before we can dispense off with stars and concentrate more on content when it comes to planning films."

Madhur Bhandarkar says, "The success of the film has come as a pleasant surprise to people in the trade, considering that the film did not conform to expected box-office norms.

"It did not have the trappings of a pot boiler, nor was it an out and out realistic story. But it was this very novelty of the subject that worked for the film. In the interiors, it was the curiosity value that drew the audiences to the film. I am told that there are a lot of people in the interiors who watch the programme, 'Night Out' on NDTV, which revolves around the celebrity circuit."

"Ironically, the trade made a mockery out of the subject when I first announced the film. People in the industry scoffed at me and felt it was ridiculous to attempt a film on the lives of the 'Page 3' celebrity circuit. There were others who cautioned me against going ahead and some more who felt that it was a wrong choice of title. I decided to stick to my conviction and do exactly as I felt, knowing well that I would have to face brickbats if the film didn't work at the box-office.

"I would call the film's success, a success of conviction and belief."

Sanjay Mehta, a Delhi distributor, says, "The film has performed beyond expectations and its overwhelming response has given the box-office a fresh lease of life after a shaky start in the first few weeks of the New Year. In addition it has revived a new interest in films, which may not necessarily be star-studded but have a lot of substance to talk about. I am also surprised by the response to the film in Uttar Pradesh, which has been way above expectations.

"I released the film on a cautious note since I thought it was essentially a multiplex film but the film has grown from strength to strength. In fact, I have added another eight prints of the film in its second week run. I have also substituted 'Kisna' with 'Page 3' looking at its response. I think we need more such unconventional films looking at the changing tastes of the audiences."