Dekh Tamash Dekh has received good reviews and word-of-mouth publicity, which, however, has not translated into numbers.
I haven’t looked into the numbers right now, so I cannot comment on that. But it will take a little while as a film like this has a small release, and always depends on word-of-mouth publicity. The response in Delhi was apparently very good because it is a politically-active city. However, my first concern is that I have made a good film and Dekh Tamasha Dekh has been appreciated. The reaction to this film has been even more overwhelming than Gandhi My Father. Moreover, it will be remembered for a long time and become a reference point to remind us about how religious ideas gain precedence over human values. Dekh Tamasha Dekh will not end over by the weekend, but will remain in our history for a long time to come.
What kind of response have you received from people, since the film comments on the sensitive subject of Hindu-Muslim divide?
When I had some screenings in towns like Kanpur, the reaction was quite extraordinary. Smaller towns have connected to the film very deeply. They understood the seriousness, the humour and the purpose of the film. No one came up and told me that it has hurt religious sentiments. The common man understands that people want to manipulate them to get votes on the lines of caste and religion. We need to be constantly aware of and be warned about how a small irrelevant idea can blow up into a bad situation despite all our development and decency. The film is contemptuous about the extreme ideas of religion being propagated by the politicians.
You have directed plays like Tumhari Amrita, made films and are presently helming a television show, Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon. How would you define the grammar of each medium?
There are some constants, but a lot of deviations in each medium. Cinema is quintessentially a director’s medium, theatre an actor’s, and television a writer’s medium. During the making of Dekh Tamasha Dekh, my actors were unaware of what was going on in the film. None of them had read the full script and I did that on purpose as I did not want them to have preconceived ideas about the subject. The director is responsible for his film, because he has a clear picture of the end product. He is the sculptor who sculpts everything. In theatre, once the play is directed and put on stage, it is the actor who takes it ahead, whereas a film director is there till the end. For TV it is the writing that is important for the serial to work.
There are scenes in the film which are very dramatic and theatrical like the wailing women beating their chests when Tanvi Azmi loses her husband. Is it because you are also a theatre person?
It’s a conscious effort on my part, not to become theatrical while making a film. Sometimes, however, there are some scenes that may look very theatrical on screen, but they happen in reality. Women wailing and beating chests on a death, provoking the family to cry happens in real life too. Even the maulana’s speech in the film is over-the-top but actually in real life they are more loud and dramatic. I had to actually tone him down. In fact, these kind of scenes are challenging because it is not easy to maintain a balance. So right from the writing, to the execution, to editing, I try not to let my theatrical instincts come to the fore. In fact, making a socio-political satire is a challenge at every level and an extremely difficult genre. That’s why nobody tries it.
Has any kind of criticism come your way and what next?
Dekh Tamasha… was one film I wanted to make. People have liked the film and the overall reaction has been very good. Though some people did feel that I had explored too many issues in the film. There is a thief on the run, a cop in search of answers and a love story on the side! Many felt that there should have been only one protagonist. But that was not the kind of film I wanted to make. Since we are a very diverse country, I wanted to tackle several important issues; from the judiciary, to the media, to the system.
Presently I am working on a television show Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon after which I will be developing a new play. My next movie is a love story.
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