Madhur Bhandarkar: The day my first film flopped, my professional obituary was written

Hindustan Times | ByRishabh Suri, New Delhi
Jul 26, 2020 05:29 PM IST

A self-made success story in Bollywood, filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar weighs in on nepotism debate and says that an insider definitely has an easy access, if not success.

The one thing filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar has stayed away from in the film industry in a career spanning 25 years, is being part of a group or camp. He’s always been solo, and has a reason, rather a shocking experience behind it. He says groupism is a “100 percent reality”, and it’s there more than nepotism.

Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar began his career as a director with the 1999 film Trishakti.
Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar began his career as a director with the 1999 film Trishakti.

“A lot of people ask me today ‘How did you stay away from camps, or any form of lobbying?’. My first film, Trishakti flopped, and I got a ringside view of people, how they desert you, and don’t want to talk to you. They feel ‘Film flopped, yeh manhoos hai’. It could be anyone — an actor or director — the tone and texture of their personality changes. This industry is very cruel,” admits the 51-year-old.

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Belonging to a middle class family, Bhandarkar had to make his way up through the hard way. And he admits things became even more difficult after his debut directorial didn’t work.

“The minute Trishakti bombed, people who used to take my calls — they were not even big people — they simply disappeared. They were suddenly nowhere. It was difficult for me to again get a foothold. People advise you ‘Your career is over’. My professional obituary was written that day,” recounts the director, who went on to direct critically-acclaimed films such as Page 3, Chandni Bar and Fashion.

A barrage of criticism and advice came his way. He tells us, “I was told to go back and work with Ram Gopal Varma (who I worked with in Rangeela), my parents told me, ‘Why didn’t you stay in Dubai when you had gone there?’. The blows came from all sectors. It was shocking for me, what to do at that point when I thought my career was completely over.”


Talking about the ways of the industry, does Bhandarkar also feel that had he been someone with a star parent or had connections, things would have been different for him? He somewhat agrees. 

“Insiders get more chances, that is the edge people get when you belong to a lineage or the film fraternity. You get respect. If not success, at least access is there, because of a father, brother, mom or uncle who’s successful,” he opines.

It was after two years since his debut that he got his breakthrough with his second film, Chandni Bar. But the gap in between, he reveals was quite “humiliating” to deal with.

“I remember going to parties, and nobody used to talk to me.I used to tag along with somebody, some small-time secretary, saying ‘Mujhe bhi le chalo’, because I had to approach people. People didn’t pick calls, so at least you could talk there. Nobody sent me an invitations. But I’m a fighter... you push me back, I’ll bounce again,” concludes Bhandarkar.

Interact with the author on Twitter/ @RishabhSuri02

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