Film-maker Tigmanshu Dhulia tells Madhur Tankha why he has roped in Saif Ali Khan for his upcoming film on Uttar Pradesh gangsters....
Taking an urbane and sophisticated-looking Saif Ali Khan for his new film on Uttar Pradesh gangsters might sound a risky proposition. But Tigmanshu Dhulia has roped him for his upcoming film Bullet Raja inspired by his rustic appeal in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Omakara.
Tigmanshu says he likes making films with friends and he and Saif share excellent camaraderie.
This was one of the reasons why he made the critically acclaimed Paan Singh Tomar with Irrfan Khan and is also doing Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster Returns with him. “Saif is as comfortable playing Langra Tyagi in Omkara as essaying a sophisticated Gautam Kapoor in the commercial film Cocktail. Bullet Raja deals with friendship between two gangsters who enjoy their work. But the system takes notice of them and tries to eliminate them.”
The film-maker is all praise for Saif for his brilliant performance in films like Being Cyrus. “It is always a wonderful experience to watch him on the big screen. Fortunately, Saif has no inhibitions and is willing to come to my space. He sees his growth as an actor while working with me. We have become friends and it feels good to work when with an actor with whom you are on the same wavelength.”
Among his upcoming projects, Tigmanshu is pinning hopes on his Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster Returns.
Though Tigmanshu himself is a trained actor from the National School of Drama he was quite clear that direction was his forte. “Though I was keen to study direction at NSD, the faculty turned down my request because only two persons -- me and a Manipuri student -- were interested. So we had no alternative except getting enrolled in the three-year acting course.”
Years later Tigmanshu realises that no learning goes waste. Though he was never interested in acting, he has been complimented by all for his performance in Gangs of Wasseypur.
When Anurag Kashyap requested Tigmanshu to do an innocuous role in his film, he instantly agreed. “It was my turn to reciprocate because Anurag had chipped in as an actor in my film Shagird. But I did not know that he had planned to make a second part of the film. On learning this, I felt trapped. Thankfully, there was no pressure while delivering my lines because even if my acting was bad nobody would have said I am a bad actor.”
Another reason why Tigmanshu agreed to do the film was that it was to be choreographed in Banaras. “I was longing to go to Banaras and also for a short holiday to Allahabad.”
Remembering his days of struggle, Tigmanshu says when he started off, Bollywood was in a phase of transition. “I was not embittered by this because new cinema was evolving. Even though my directorial venture flopped, I am proud of the fact that I came up with a film like Haasil for which people recognise me to this day. Though the film’s release kept being postponed, I am glad I made such a powerful film.”
A self-confessed lover of cinema, Tigmanshu adds that he and Anurag Kashyap as a team can never make a film like Mother India. “There are certain memorable films which can never be compared with other projects. They remain etched in memory. Aamir Khan’s Lagaan was rooted in the socio-economic reality. Since the time of the country’s first release Raja Harishchandra we have seen such wonderful classics. It was only the 1980s and 1990s which saw a bad phase for Hindi films. Our films have changed drastically but people need to understand that cinema reflects society. There has been a consistent debate about dissimilarity between commercial and art films but both types of cinema can co-exist.”
Tigmanshu feels the young generation in every metropolitan city, particularly Delhi, needs to get good exposure to world cinema. “For this, an international film festival is the need of the hour. Every festival, whether it is Osian’s-Cinefan Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema or the upcoming Delhi International Film Festival, is welcome. Personally, I prefer an Iranian film over a Hollywood production made in a studio. Watching an Iranian film tells me more about the social upheavals or economic downturn happening in that country rather than a newspaper.”
Noting that people in big cities have started appreciating good cinema, the film-maker says in middle class homes just as children study to become professionals like engineers and doctors, they are keen on learning different aspects of film-making like direction, cinematography, acting, production and singing as professional activities.