Dark Horse

While the industry and the audience commemorated the return of wholesome entertainment — a good script,intense performances and a theme that sensitises the audience towards a sociopolitical issue — its director Tigmanshu Dhulia had a quiet celebration.

Written by PriyankaPereira | Published: March 16, 2012 1:45 am

Paan Singh Tomar re-establishes its director,Tigmanshu Dhulia,as a champion of meaningful cinema

Beehad mein to Baaghi hote hai,Dacait to Parliament mein milte hain… As film halls reverberated with applause over this dialogue and other such gems,it was certain that Paan Singh Tomar had resonated with audiences from across India’s demographics. While the industry and the audience commemorated the return of wholesome entertainment — a good script,intense performances and a theme that sensitises the audience towards a sociopolitical issue — its director Tigmanshu Dhulia had a quiet celebration. “At a screening some time ago,a trade analyst watched Paan Singh Tomar and gave his verdict that it would not work. I felt very bad then. But today,the joy has doubled because reviewers and audiences have both appreciated the film,” says Dhulia from his Versova office,from where he is now planning his next two projects — Milan Talkies and the sequel to Saheb,Biwi aur Gangster. The box-office success of Paan Singh Tomar has suddenly elevated Dhulia’s

position in the industry. His phone hasn’t stopped buzzing ever since the film

released and producers lining up outside his office are a sure sign of his changing fortunes in Bollywood. This success could have easily been his almost two years ago. “Like most things in life,every film and each director charts a unique journey,” says Dhulia. However,he doesn’t have qualms about the delayed release. “Two years back,when we set out to release the film,UTV had a different plan. They wanted to take it to festivals first,which,in retrospect,was a good move,” says the 44-year-old.

What has made this success sweeter is that it has come soon after his last film,Saheb,Biwi aur Gangster,which also set the cash registers ringing. “Saheb was the much needed start. Since I was the producer,I couldn’t hold on to the movie for long. I released it with the faith that it was a good film and it would work,” he says. It did,and also many doors opened for Dhulia. The decision to release Paan Singh Tomar can be partly credited to Saheb’s success — it was,after all,the director’s first box office success.

Dhulia’s journey has always been a bit strange. His entry into Bollywood in 2003 was rather grand,with his debut feature being applauded by all and sundry. Haasil,a story of power games played in universities,is yet another gritty tale. “Haasil is my most talked-about work to date. Even before social networking sites took over,fans of the film had set up three fan clubs for the same,” he says.

His second venture Charas,though,didn’t quite make the cut. Thus began the filmmaker’s struggle. “In Bollywood,one just lives in anticipation. Everyday you try to fix meetings with actors,producers,and meanwhile continue writing your scripts,” says the director. His first release of 2011,Shagird,however,failed too. Dhulia had thus been written off when,suddenly,Saheb clicked at the box office. Dhulia entered the industry along with three other stalwarts — Anurag Kashyap,Imtiaz Ali and Sriram Raghavan,who would go on to change Bollywood in more ways than one. “We came into the industry from the National School of Drama with an intention of making films which weren’t tried in Bollywood earlier. And over a period of time,we all did form our own niche and saw some amount of success,” he says. But the bigger battles are yet to be fought,the industry is still to notice their impact and more films like Paan Singh Tomar are waiting to be made. As Dhulia puts it,“There are fifty filmmakers who make movies like I Hate Luv Storys,but even if a few others who want to make films such as Paan Singh Tomar come into the business,Indian cinema would have announced its arrival.”

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