Madhur Bhandarkar on his upcoming Heroine, directing Kareena Kapoor and more

When films such as Kagaz Ke Phool and Mera Naam Joker failed to create an impact at the box office, it lent credence to the belief that films based on the celluloid world and circus would not run. However, Madhur Bhandarkar is not one to buy that. The easy-going yet committed director is his usual smiling self when I meet him at his Four Bungalows office. He greets me, saying, “I have an interesting story to share with you. My latest venture Heroine is not based on Marilyn Monroe's life as widely reported in the media. It is a contemporary tale of a bright, ambitious lady who seeks a career in filmdom. She struggles, works hard and ultimately becomes a superstar. The story has all the realistic shades of today's film world and is also analytical in its narration.”

Heroine boasts a big star cast — Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Sahana Goswami and Divya Dutt. Continues Bhandarkar, “I share a good rapport with Kareena. We wanted to work together for long. She is relaxed on the sets and never throws any tantrums. In a way, she is very much like me. I am sure Heroine will be her most memorable performance.”

Tabu, Raveena Tandon, Konkona Sen Sharma and Bipasha Basu. Bhandarkar has worked with all of them and extracted memorable performances from each. About Kareena, he says, “Kareena is photogenic, emotes effortlessly and has a brilliant sense of timing. Arjun Rampal plays the male lead in Heroine and he is the ideal director's actor. There are interesting interactions between both in the film.”

Chandni Bar, Satta, Page 3, Corporate, Jail … Bhandarkar's earlier films have highlighted the grey areas of society. The director assures, “Heroine does not paint a rosy picture of stardom. It is realistic and captures all the colours that exist in the world of cinema, providing an insight into its day-to-day functioning.”

Success, failure, adulation and awards. Madhur Bhandarkar has received it all during his one and a half decades as a filmmaker. He smiles, “Guru Dutt, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Vijay Anand have been my idols. I believe cinema entertains, educates and reflects society. It is the greatest medium of art with which I will never flirt.”

Why do his films remain confined to urban boundaries? Bhandarkar answers, “Manoj Kumar has often drawn my attention to it. I respect such a seasoned filmmaker's view. You see, I am an urbanite. So, my films are inspired by my surroundings and the atmosphere I live in. Of course, I will choose rural India as a cinematic backdrop if a theme demands it.”

Ask him if Bhandarkar would consider making a film based on literature, and he says, “Certainly, if a novel or a work of literature inspires me. It has to be of the standard of Devdas, Saheb Bibi Aur Ghulam, Guide or Teesri Kasam. Then only will it be challenging for me to film it.”