Letter: Madhur Bhandarkar on why he shelved Heroine

By Hindustan Times

Today I am sitting alone in my office after the plugs being pulled off from my film Heroine… My conscience stands clear as I have been honest to my craft irrespective of the repercussions…. No which way would I have trampled my dream project on which I have given my sweat and blood for almost 1 1/2 years…. This was going to be my most ambitious project of my career… My inherent belief is that motherhood is pious and I am humbled by it.

I must also add that I salute every woman who chooses to work in this extremely delicate state. To put things in perspective, I am a man who is surrounded by women in my family. My wife, my sister, my mother and my daughter…. These are the people that make my life! In fact my wife when she was carrying my daughter worked through her pregnancy….but in the same breath I would like to say that I will never knowingly put a woman in harm’s way knowing the delicate nature of her health. My entire career stands on the strong pillars of women oriented films. This stems from the fact that I am sensitive to the entire aura and mystique of a woman and womanhood.

The main lead actress is the main protagonist of the concerned film Heroine… the entire film has to carry on the sole strong shoulders of the main lead actress. On starters we need to state this is no normal film which can be shot in couple of locations with handful of actors…

Heroine a film entails a huge canvas of around 40 locations in which heavy duty scenes involving massive crowds are to be shot…. Scenes of the actress being mobbed by the crowds… adult content… the regular song and dance sequences…. heavy duty scenes of involving hardcore physical exertion…there are scenes with high emotional content which can take a massive toll on any normal human psyche… One of the days amongst the only 8 days shoot… one of my associate directors while rehearsing for the actress tripped and had a bad fall injuring himself… The terrain we were shooting was rocky. Today when I know the condition of my then lead actress and I shudder at the thought what if instead of my associate she would be the one to be injured; I would have suffered a major guilt throughout my life if anything were to happen to her on my guard and direction Never mind a star, if a female technician, in the same state, is on the set, we take extreme precaution to see that she is as far as possible from harm’s way.

The lead actress was required to smoke on screen….but even if she chose not to smoke for the camera; there are other actors smoking in the same frame entailing to passive smoking which would prove detrimental to a pregnant woman’s health…

The entire event would not have taken place if on the onset the actress would have informed the state of her health an impending maternity…. The truth was hidden from us. We learnt about the entire thing from news channels like the rest of the world that the said actress was 4 months pregnant and she was due on November… Film making in Mumbai film industry is not a mere business but one big fraternity who functions on total faith and trust.

The film was announced in Cannes on 13th May while we commenced shooting on 7th June…. There was a gap of 24 days even if we had known the truth behind the maternal state of the actress… things could have been reworked keeping the state of matters in mind accordingly and this crisis could have been averted.

The entire crisis would have taken a humungous shape had the truth not being unveiled when it was…. With 65 days of shooting remaining…. It would make the concerned actress 6-7 months pregnant…. Cinema is a visual medium and keeping in mind the physical state of the actress the total interpretation of the character of a diva and the story would land up in major jeopardy post 65 days of her pregnancy…

This decision of pulling the plug had a devasting effect on me … It was like an avalanche collapsing on me… I was in a state of total shock and depression… I have been working on the script for almost a year and a half….

I could not come to the office for almost 8 days for the fear of facing those people whose bread and butter depended upon the film… because in true sense these people were the worst affected by the turn of events…

It was a collective decision of the Producers of the film to pull off the plug on the current assembled project…. It takes a heart of steel to take such a hard decision… and it cannot be done on mere whims but stoic and solid reasoning.

I am still reeling in a state of shock…. But still chose to remain silent all these days; but was coerced into breaking my silence… as I realized that truth deserved to be told.

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