A bar girl thanked me for marrying one in the film: Atul Kulkarni reminisces about Chandni Bar
Atul Kulkarni won the National Award for best supporting actor for Chandni Bar (2001), his second Hindi film. Talking about how he owes his popularity to the film, he says, “It is an important experience in my career. Hey Ram (2000) also gave me a National Award but this film gave me a different footing and a different kind of recognition.”
Sharing screen space with Tabu in the film was a memorable experience for him as he shares, “It was a very different film, both for me and Tabu. We were required to be extremely comfortable with each other as people. When a star is working with a newcomer, it’s the star’s responsibility to bring a sense of comfort and friendship to the table. Tabu ji did so really well.”
As the film completes 20 years of its release, Kulkarni believes that Chandni Bar set a precedent and brought about a change in the way Hindi cinema was perceived. “It is one of those films that started a new era not only because of the way it was made but also the way it was accepted. It was a tragedy in the classical sense. It didn’t have any original song. It was a film that would have been considered ‘non-commercial’ in those days. But it went to become a super hit film,” he elaborates, adding that it is a rather “special” film for him.
The actor went on to win wide critical acclaim for his portrayal of Pottya Sawant, a gangster, in the film. But he vividly remembers one particular feedback that remains etched in his mind till date. “We had a trial show before the film released. It was kept for the real-life bar girls. After the show, I was standing outside the theatre when one of them came up to me. She didn’t look at me but just took my hand in hers and said to me, ‘Shukriya, aap ne bar girl se shaadi kar li.’ And then she walked away,” Kulkarni reminisces.