Tigmanshu Dhulia: ‘Two strong groups in industry made money but did nothing for cinema’
In an exclusive interview, Tigmanshu Dhulia sees nothing wrong with groupism as long as it leads to productive work and good cinema. The director, however, says that is where the groups failed the film industry.Updated: Jul 28, 2020 11:39 IST
Filmmaker Tigmanshu Dhulia, who is not the one to mince his words, has said that two strong groups in the Hindi film industry have stalled the growth of cinema. Insisting groupism is a way of life for many fields, Tigmanshu said that it is important that good work continues to be delivered, despite the favouritsm. In an interview with Hindustan Times, the actor-filmmaker talks about his upcoming movie Yaara, the ongoing debate of nepotism, how the art of cinema has suffered and more.
Here’s an excerpt:
AR Rahman has extended his support to Kangana Ranaut with his latest statement about ‘gangs’ of film industry. How has your experience in the industry been?
I used to contemplate whether something like that existed, but I thought it was probably just my insecurity. Now, since everybody is talking about it, I would say, yes. Not gangs per se but groups definitely exist. And groups exist everywhere. At a few places, you still churn out good work despite the groups and for some places do not. Some groups, like Excel (Entertainment, co-founded by Riteish Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar) have produced good work. If you are productive and delivering fresh work, I don’t think group-ism is bad. Even the outsiders – directors and technicians – they work with their own set of people. But if you close your eyes and want to just work with certain people, how will you find new talent?
These are such powerful groups. You know that Spider-Man line, ‘With great power comes great responsibility’? Responsibility le nahi pa rahe hain aur mediocre kaam kar rahe hain. To fayda kya hai? (These groups are unable to take the responsibility and are delivering mediocre work, what’s the use?). The two strong groups in the industry did not take cinema forward. They were capable of changing the taste of the people but they did nothing for the art of cinema. They made money, which is great and essential, but cinema is an art form. What happened to it?
Yash ji made path-breaking films, what happened after that? Aage badho na. Wahi Shava Shava aur shaadi ke gaane yahi sab NRIs ko khush karne ke liye (We should move forward, but are stuck with the same wedding songs just to please NRIs). What is all this? There is nothing wrong in having groups, the point is good work must come out of it.
How do we strike a balance between this groupism and providing a platform to new talents?
This happens when all you can think of is money. I need to make money – good, earn all the money you wish but there should be a limit. You normally spend a year or 1.5 years making a film so you’d prefer working with people you know and gel well with. So that things sail smoothly, there are no fights and everything is done peacefully. You tend to work with people you know. But, as you say, there needs to be a balance. New technicians and actors also need a chance to prove themselves. Otherwise, how will you grow?
Your film, Bullet Raja, did not quite do well but had a zone of its own. Do you see the film as a fun experiment or is it something you’d never try again?
I was very angry when the film did not do well and even did not get good ratings. But, the general audience loved it. When it came on TV, the ratings were really high. I felt bad. Critics were like how could Tigmanshu make something like this, they would have reacted differently if the director was someone else. In fact, I was full of anger and started working on Yaara soon after. With Yaara, I have tried to improve on the mistakes I made in Bullet Raja.
You talk about good response on satellite. Did the benefit reach you?
Never reached me. Shuru me picture nahi chali to kuch nahi pata chalta (There is no account of what happens after the film bombs at the box office). Maybe, I will find something when the satellite rights for Bullet Raja are sold again.
Paan Singh Tomar, Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster films...How do Chambal and dacoits always find a way to your films?
I love Chambal, it gives me a strange sense of freedom. The ravines are so vast, like a maze. Get inside and you will easily get lost.
Describe Yaara for your fans. What should they expect from the film?
These four friends meet because of circumstances. Destiny got them together and then it is about their journey over decades, different times and places. There is a plot point which changes everything. It is quirky and there’s tragedy but it is a celebration of friendship.
In fact, I did approach Irrfan for this film also. Earlier we thought of casting people from Irrfan’s age – Manoj Bajpayee etc. But then we decided it would be difficult to make elder people look young, it is easier to make young people look old.
You have often confessed your love for Allahabad. Does calling it Prayagraj make a difference?
Allahabad I grew up in is completely changed and I only have memories but I still call it Allahabad. I won’t call it Prayagraj, I think all the people who are born there will never call it Prayagraj. Nikelga hi nahi. It will be Allahabd for us. It is a great place. Everything that I have and I am today, is because of that city. The variety of exposure in the city was rare. It was literary hub for all the great writers of that age, right from Firak sahib to Harivanshrai Bachchan to Nirala to Mahadevi Verma. And, then there was this great blend of modern because of these political activities – Congress party was there and because of the university, a large population of Anglo-Indian community stayed there and the city had a great mix of all this.
You had a band in college and you used to sing for it. Ever thought of singing for film?
No! (laughs) But Allahabad had so many bands. The only Indian magazine on western music was started in Allahabd (Amit Saigal’s Rock Street Journal) We used to produce music together.
Tigmanshu’s Yaara is all set for a direct-to-digital release on July 30 and features Amit Sadh, Vijay Varma and Vidyut Jammwal in lead roles.