"Today's audience is ruthless" - Madhur Bhandarkar

By Joginder Tuteja, Bollywood Hungama News Network

Fashion is a success and in the process has turned out to be the biggest money spinner of Madhur Bhandarkar's decade long career. While brand Madhur has been created in the process, the filmmaker continues to be obsessed with telling different stories in his own experimental manner. A fortnight after the release of the film, as he finally settles down to the fact that he has to move on to the next project, Madhur Bhandarkar gets into this Exclusive two part conversation with Joginder Tuteja where he bares his heart out about the success of Fashion and how it still won't change his approach towards movie making.

With a multi crore commercial success like Fashion under your belt, is it goodbye to serious cinema and welcome to hardcore money spinner worthy commercial cinema?
Actually, I have never ever got into matters like these. I have always maintained that I am an experimental filmmaker whose films also get commercial viability. This way, I am truly blessed because my films also get critical acclaim and also National awards. I am really happy with the kind of cinema I make, the subjects I explore and the treatment I give to my films.

But when a film like Fashion does such business, isn't it tempting to go for those mega bucks?
See, the subject of Fashion was such that it required huge budget due. The movie was required to be opulent with a mega look and sheer grandeur to boast. A budget comes after you have short listed the subject and this is how my films in future too would be planned. I am not someone who makes proposal cinema ki chalo 3 hero le lo, 3 heroine daal do aur kuch gaane bhi bhar do! Right from Chandni Bar to Fashion, the film's scale has been set as per the script. I went to swanky boardrooms for Corporate; I entered the dingy by lanes for Traffic Signal.

Please carry on…
Tomorrow I may make a film for which I am just require an Rs. 8 crore budget; I don't have to make my next movie also as big as Fashion. It's not that because my last film was made in Rs. 30 crores, the next has to carry a Rs. 60 crores budget.

Scenario may have only improved after Fashion, isn't it?
I guess I can stand up and say that producers have been knocking the doors with even more vigor. It may sound immodest to a few but let me state a fact - I have spent last 8-9 years making a brand for myself. This time period has seen each of my movies making money. Moreover, all of them have been made in a certain kind of preset budget; something which my producers have always acknowledged. They know that Madhur guarantees definite recovery and also ensures profit inflow.

What has been the secret of making it happen film after film?
I know for sure how to cut cost and resist the temptation of going overboard. I also don't opt for fancy locations just for the sake of it and instead try shooting at real locations as much as possible. I also keep in constant touch with my exhibitors and distributors and discuss about audience's taste, emerging trends and how investment could be recovered. This is what makes my films safer and I end up getting 3 to 4 times the investment back. No wonder, producers have maintained that Madhur is a producer's director (smiles).

Since you always aspire to pick up experimental subjects, doesn't it become risky project after project?
You are right in saying that because the fact is that each of the subjects that I have explored has been dicey for me. However, where I get all my knowledge and learning is by interacting with so many people. I don't make films by doing a DVD rip off or picking up a South Indian film for a remake. I know for sure that the way I make my films, it turns out to be a tedious process. It is risky too and also takes more time. But then tell me, which movie is secure today? Even if it is a hardcore commercial cinema with 3 heroes and 3 heroines, is it safe anymore? Can anyone guarantee that they would work at the box office? No one can.

You seem to be unsure about the way audience would react!
See, today's audience is ruthless. It gets it after the opening show on Friday itself that whether the film was indeed made with a purpose or was it just a proposal in the making. At the end of the day it is merit that does all the talking. Star system or big budget sure shot successes are a passe. At the end of the day it is all about content and I am really happy that there is a major revamp in the industry and the audience.

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