People keep asking me why most of my films are female-oriented. Women are the lifeline of our society and I feel some stories can be told only from a woman’s perspective. Her power, complexities, insecurities and sensitivity have always fascinated me.
But I am not the first director to be fascinated by them. We have had directors like Bimal Roy, Raj Kapoor, V Shantaram and Gulzar who have captured a woman’s core essence on screen. These filmmakers have been a source of inspiration to me. But what also fuels the fire in me to tell a story is the subject that revolves around a woman.
It was the life of a bar girl and the obstacles she faces that made me make Chandni Bar; a woman caught in the world of dirty politics that inspired Satta; the ugly competition between corporate houses that built the idea of Corporate; the journalist-celebrity relationship and the harsh reality surrounding it that gave birth to Page 3; and the unglamorous and the ugly truth of the glamorous fashion world that created Fashion. So it is these plots that have, time and again, inspired me to tell a story. The central protagonist being a woman has only added to the drama.
But, honestly, being a director, I also want to be known for my versatility. If I have handled women-oriented films with ease, I have also made male-dominated films like Aan: Men At Work, Jail, Traffic Signal and the comedy Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji, with equal ease.
The outcome of Jail would have been more interesting if a woman had played the central character. Or, for that matter, the story of Fashion or Heroine could have been told from a male model or a hero’s point of view. While writing this column for Box Office India, I am reminded of my first film, Trishakti.
It was a male-dominated film which bombed at the box office, and the critics had written my obituary as a director. The only thing I knew was that I had to remain afloat although I had no idea how. At the same time, I did not know whether I would survive in this cut-throat industry. Thankfully, Chandni Bar happened and there was no looking back. It was a turning point in my life.
At the end of the day, a director’s job is to tell a story convincingly, regardless of whether it is a female or a male-oriented film. Once I zero-in on a subject and my cast, I make sure the crew including my actors are under my control, not to mention the budget. This is the USP of all my films.
I don’t plan the subject of my films but go by instinct, I go with the flow. When a subject comes my way, I weave a plot around it and decide to make a film. There is a touch of reality to my stories too. It is there because I have witnessed these things. I have learnt something from every film I have made, whether Chandni Bar or Heroine. I have been constantly imbibing new things personally and professionally.
While, professionally, it only improves me as a director, I have grown as a person too. I cast my lead stars by instinct. Once I have the story ready, I know who is best suited to play the role.
I don’t know if my movies have inspired other filmmakers to make heroine-oriented films. Our film industry is male-dominated and there is scarcity of good cinema, never mind male or female themes. But things are gradually changing. There is more awareness today, thanks to the Internet and social networking sites. People want quality cinema.
I have never made a film set in rural India and the life that a woman leads there. I am keen to explore that subject. So you know what to expect from Madhur Bhandarkar next!