His gritty film Chandni Bar on the hard, poverty-stricken life of sexually exploited Bombay’s bar dancers and the challenges they face at the hands of the police, bagged the director a National Award in 2001. Subsequently, Madhur Bhandarkar, a former assistant to maverick filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma, went on to become an A-lister director in Bollywood.
The first decade of 2000 belonged to him, as his film Page 3 (which had a riveting performance by Konkona Sen Sharma) on the lives of the filthy rich and the nexus between the media and the corporate world, got him a National Award for best feature film. In 2007, his Traffic Signal, on the lives and travails of people living around a fictitious traffic signal in Mumbai, also won him a National Award for best director.
In 2008, his film Fashion tracking the coke-sniffing, glitzy world of modelling got the heroine Priyanka Chopra a National Award. His films exposed the dark side or the underbelly of the lives of the wealthy and famous (it’s another matter he was also embroiled in a rape allegation by an actress offscreen). Bhandarkar, however, has often brushed off the praise of his realistic world as saying: ‘I am just holding up a mirror to society’.
Entry into new genre
Bhandarkar has now stopped digging up dirt and diving into the dark side of people’s lives and strayed into the realm of comedy. His latest film, Babli Bouncer, is all set to release on Disney+Hotstar on September 23. It is the story of a small town girl, who hails from Asola Fatehpuyr and moves to the capital in the pursuit of finding a job, which she does in a pub and makes it big as a bouncer.
No doubt, this gender bending role comes as a relief from the ho-hum, south film remakes from Bollywood. The trailer has shades of Aamir Khan’s Dangal, as we see the protagonist, Tamannaah Bhatia (giving it her best shot) lifting weights and showing off her muscles to an approving father.
Also read: OTT: Binge-worthy Emmy baggers, a horror tale, and a dreamy romance
On making a comedy
On making a comedy, Bhandarkar said in an interview to the media that he felt the world of bouncers is an interesting one. They usually hail from Haryana and come to Mumbai or Delhi to work. The idea hit him that if there are so many male bouncers – whether it is in pubs or film parties – why not make a film on female bouncers? It obviously pays to think on different lines like Bhandarkar.
After researching on bouncers (Bhandarkar had visited 50-60 bars to interview bar dancers before he made Chandni Bar), the director ostensibly found their lives so different that he decided to make the film funny. And, Bhandarkar is not going to scream from the rooftops that it is a film on gender equality since most of his films are anyway female-centric.
According to the director, Babli is very feisty, prankster, bindas, naughty and romantic by heart and that he never had such a character before in his film as the lead.
How did he choose Tamannaah for the role? In his interviews to the media, Bhandarkar revealed that Tamannaah was the production house’s first choice. Bhandarkar claims that he has not seen Tamannaah’s movies, except for Bahubaali, (typical Bollywood arrogance since she has made over 60 plus movies) where he felt she was hardly visible, Bhandarkar proudly claimed that Babli Bouncer will be a game-changer for Tamannaah. Apparently. people will ask where Tamannaah was hiding all these years, he told the media.
Multiple films, multiple skills
Tamannaah has been very much a known face in Indian cinema straddling Tamil, Telugu and Hindi films since she made her debut in films at the age of 15.
The 32-year-old Tamannaah was recently seen in the Telugu remake of Andhadhun, where she essayed Tabu’s character and a crime thriller on OTT called ‘November Story’. She will be next seen in Netflix film, Plan A Plan B, opposite Ritiesh Deshmukh, playing a matchmaker, while he is a divorce lawyer. Her upcoming films include the Hindi film Bole Chudiyan alongside Nawazuddin Siddiqui and the long delayed That is Mahalakshmi, a female-centric Telugu-language comedy-drama film produced by Manu Kumaran, a remake of the 2014 Hindi film Queen by Vikas Bahl.
On her character in Babli Bouncer, Tamannaah, told the media that she had to learn to ride a bullet, which was difficult because it is a very heavy bike. She also learnt beatboxing, which has nothing to do with beating up someone. Check out the film, to see how the pretty Tamannaah becomes a sassy, portly looking bouncer (apparently the actor had recently met a few on her visit to Kerala) and roughs up the bad guys.
A must watch: Thiruchitrambalam
A real gem of a movie, Thiruchitrambalam will start streaming on Sun NXT from tomorrow, five weeks after it released in the theatres. The no-frills family film was a super hit in theatres and is a must watch for the performances by Bharathiraja, Nithya Menon and Dhanush. Prakash Raj is as solid as ever.
It is about a coming-of-age story of a delivery boy who has to come to terms with emotional issues that have been buried for a long time and decide who is the woman he loves.