Shekhar Kapur is pleasantly surprised after watching his one-time assistant-turned-director Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Paan Singh Tomar, that features actor Irrfan Khan in the title role. The veteran filmmaker feels Dhulia’s movie is as authentic as his own much-acclaimed biopic of the dreaded dacoit Phoolan Devi, titled Bandit Queen (1994).
Shekhar is certain that Tigmanshu had a harder time making this film since it’s a commercial entertainer, unlike Bandit Queen. “I loved the film. It’s very difficult to pull off something like this, and quite brave of him (Tigmanshu) to attempt such a genre. He brought out all the characters in a balanced manner, and yet made it entertaining and commercial. I didn’t have that burden to carry,” feels Shekhar.
When Tigmanshu decided to make this biopic on the slain dacoits of Chambal, he had to do a great amount of research and accumulate details on Paan Singh. “Bandit Queen was already very famous when I made the film. She was alive, Tishu (Tigmanshu) didn’t have that luxury,” says Shekhar.
Produced by UTV Motion Pictures, the film tracks the life of Paan Singh Tomar, who, from a junior army officer to a gold medallist runner, metamorphoses into a rebel by joining a gang of gunmen.
Does he claim credit as being Tigmanshu’s muse? Shekhar laughs it off, “Every film has its own identity. I’m proud that he’s made it so well. But if Tishu had to give any credit to Bandit Queen, I’d be happy to accept it.”
Ask Shekhar about his recent tweet, ‘I still feel Bandit Queen was my best film and not sure I can better that,’ and he replies, “Such films just happen. Till today, I am surprised how it actually happened.”
Commending Tigmanshu’s film for taking him on a nostalgia trip, he signs off, “It reminds me of the adventure of filmmaking in the valleys of Chambal.”