The dialogue-writer of Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se, who went on to make films like Haasil, Charas and the recently released Nana Patekar-starrer Shagird, now sees things changing for good…
Tigmanshu Dhulia’s next film Saheib Biwi Aur Gangster is up for release. He speaks about the formula that works in Bollywood, his passion for movies and the evolution of cinema over the last ten years.
Is it a conscious decision to make films that don’t adhere to the commercial cinema format?
Today every film has become commercial after the marketing component which has doubled the budget of even a small production. In fact, a small film needs more marketing than one with a big star, to recover that amount. After all, you want more and more people to watch the film. Also, the difference between art and commercial cinema has blurred. We are telling different stories aesthetically now.
You’ve been in the industry for about ten years, how much has changed?
A lot. We don’t make formula films any more. Even a hardcore commercial film like Dabangg had Salman Khan portraying a very twisted character. But I feel sad that we have not made a classic after Sholay.
The first look of Paan Singh Tomar was out long ago; why is it stuck?
UTV sold the satellite rights while the film was being made; at that time, satellite was not a hot territory, but about seven months ago it started booming after a few companies announced new movie channels. UTV wanted to renegotiate the price, which they did, but it took some time. Now every week there are two or three releases and they cannot slot the film, but have decided to release it in March next year.
Is it a curse to be a hatke filmmaker in Bollywood?
As I said, new stories are being told commercially. Though it is difficult for filmmakers who lack star power in their projects, there is a way out – if one follows Mahesh Bhatt’s formula: catchy title, good music, shoot in a tight budget.
Do you think that casting stars would have made a difference to the reach of your films?
Yes, but even then you have to make a good film at the end of the day. You might get to make another if you make a bad film with stars, but you won’t get respect.