Tigmanshu Dhulia is a man of many talents. While on one side he has played memorable roles in films like Gangs of Wasseypur, Shahid and more recently, Zero and web-series Rangbaaz, his directorials like Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster and Paan Singh Tomar won accolades too. And the common thread connecting all his movies is the vibe of hinterland India.
Tigmanshu, who was in New Delhi recently to promote his directorial Milan Talkies, got chatting with indianexpress.com on his love for small towns stories and why he wishes to make an opulent historical film someday.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Q. With an overflow of films based in small towns of India, does exploring such stories become a risky proposition now?
See, everyone is from a small town. Delhi is also a small town. It is only the capital by name. Except for Mumbai and Bangalore, entire India is a small town. The same value system which is in Delhi is in Allahabad, Kanpur, Jabalpur, Bhopal etc. So, all these cities still have the same conflicts, social stature, caste, religion etc. So the relatability with the movie will be high.
I have done dacoit films, gangster films and films on student politics. I wanted to do a love story because everyone is a romantic at heart. So I started writing it (Milan Talkies) when I was making Paan Singh Tomar in 2011-12. There is a parallel film industry in Malegaon, so I got to know about it. I met a few directors from there and understood how that industry works. So the film served two purposes – first, to pay tribute to single screen theaters where we have grown up watching movies and the second it is a love story. Love for your partner and the love for cinema.
Q. Have you ever felt like making grand films with opulent sets?
I do feel like making them. I want to make a historical film because history in our country is played around a lot with. We portray wrong history a lot in our films. We make fake historical dramas here and I feel sad about that so that’s why I want to make a historical film and show how it should be done. And I will make one very soon.
Q. You helmed the National Award winning Paan Singh Tomar. Any other biopic that you would like to make?
If I reveal the name now, people might just jump on it. But there are two-three biopics on my mind. I feel the society is lacking heroes at the moment that is why directors are going in the past to get a hero. The current generation is lacking a hero, an inspiration.
Q. What is the biggest crisis management you have done on a film set?
When we did television, the budget was very low, but we were inspired by movies. We were doing television because we had to pay the bills. So we improvised a lot. Tying the camera on a stick and two people moving it, that becomes a trolley. Putting the camera on a carpet and then moving the carpet so that becomes a trolley. So we have done many such things.
Q. While Zero failed at the box office, the audience loved your part but thought your character was underused. How do you react to such things?
It (actually) feels nice that people are noticing my acting and want to see more of me. So I feel nice when people say that I am underused.
Q. When you are directed by another director, do you give inputs?
I don’t interfere then. Because as a director I don’t like my actors giving me too many inputs.
Q. Which role satisfies you the most?
Writing and directing.