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‘It’s time the Indian Censor Board caught up with the times’ …says Madhur Bhandarkar

Film director, screenwriter and producer Madhur Bhandarkar, known for both his critically as well as commercially successful films, has directed 12 films of which four won four national awards, in his 16 years in the industry. In a chat with NT BUZZ he talks about how his films are a reflection of what he sees, why the censor board needs to be liberal, and why returning awards will solve no problem

Danuska Da Gama | NT BUZZ


“Had I not been a filmmaker I would have been a film journalist. Many also call me the journalist of celluloid and I take it as a complement. While there are people who write blogs, books, stories and direct short films – I make the entire thing into films, it’s just another way of telling the story creatively,” says Madhur Bhandarkar, director, screen writer and producer whose film repertoire includes hits like Chandni Bar, Page 3, Corporate and Fashion.

Ironically, his first film Trishakti bombed, but thankfully he did not take it as a deterrent. For Madhur films have always been more than just a formula, colour, stars and dance. For him a film has to be thought provoking and realistic. And this is how his celluloid journalism brought to fore realties of the glamour industry, a bar dancer’s life, the corporate world and the nexus that operates at traffic signals. Another signature touch of a Bhandarkar film is its female centric plots.

“I feel that there are different issues in society and being a film director I wanted to tell those stories. Let me also tell you there were many who were reluctant to make women-centric cinema, who are now following suit,” says the director made heroes out of the heroines in films like Chandni Bar (Tabu), Satta (Raveena Tandon), Page 3 (Konkona Sen Sharma), Corporate (Bipasha Basu), Traffic Signal (Neetu Chandra), Fashion (Priyanka Chopra) and Heroine (Kareena Kapoor).

But Madhur, with his hard hitting style in telling stories based on reality, has issues with the Censor Board. More often than not his films are given adult certificates and here it is that he feels that the Censor Board in India has to be more liberal, especially with films like his that hold a mirror to society.

Madhur, who has voiced his opinion on the Censor Board several times, but all in vain, says: “The fact is that people know what they want to see. When there is access to the internet and other forms of media, why censor films for no reason? Let the audience choose what they want to watch and don’t want to watch. We have to catch up with the times.”

This must is especially frustrating to a director who does in-depth analysis and ensures that his films are backed up with facts and research. He doesn’t mind people calling him a topical or realistic film maker as long as, at the end of the day, he is happy with the kind of cinema he makes.

When asked about his opinion on returning of awards as a mark of protest, the director, who was in the news recently for opposing the returning of awards by film and short film directors, says the following in defence of his stand: “The awards are given by the President of the country. I feel returning the award was not the correct way to protest,” adding that he was not the only person who felt this way about the gesture.

Yes, he maintains that while he believes that in a democracy one has the right to protest and voice grievances, an award is an honour given to a person, which should be respected. “By returning it one clearly shows disrespect to the country; when your work has been appreciated and applauded.”

The four-time national award winner goes on to say that returning awards will not solve any problems and instead questions the people who have returned awards as to why when in the past they have not returned their awards when issues have cropped up.

“I want to ask the people returning their awards – especially those from the film fraternity – the Modi government will carry on till 2019, so are they trying to say that in these three-and-a-half-years they are not going to make any films? Or are they not going to submit any film to the national award jury?”

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