It is often said that films don’t fail, budgets do. In that regard, Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar has succeeded well. Made at reasonable costs, this political drama starring Kirti Kulhari, Tota Roy Chowdhury and Neil Nitin Mukesh, is all set to recover its costs. It has also got appreciation from its target audience. We caught up with Madhur Bhandarkar exclusively and let’s find out what he has to say about the film, his struggle with the Censors and a lot more
Your film Indu Sarkar has completed a one week run at the box office. How has the film fared at the box office? What kind of response have you got from audiences and critics alike?
The response has been great. Indu Sarkar was made on a reasonable budget and we are confident of recovering the costs. We have collected Rs. 6 crore in the first week from the box office. We secured Rs. 2 crore by selling its audio rights. We’ll earn more once we sell the home video and other such rights. And we need to understand that Indu Sarkar isn’t a big-budget flick. Moreover, we released it in limited theatres. We never expected an earth-shattering opening. The appreciation has been huge and the target audience has seen the film. Kirti Kulhari, Neil Nitin Mukesh and Tota Roy Chowdhury have been appreciated. The film is now in its second week and has retained screens in major cities. Also, I will be taking the film to festivals in places like Russia, Norway etc. Talks are going on.
Your film got multiple cuts from the Censor Board. In fact, the character of the Prime Minister is barely shown in the movie. Could you tell us what made you accept such decisions of the Censors?
The week before Indu Sarkar’s release was hell as I was getting bombarded from all sides. The Congress was attacking my film. A lady claimed that she is Sanjay Gandhi’s daughter and she moved court. At the same time, the Revising Committee of Censor Board had to see my film. Money and my career were at stake. Theatres were booked, promotion had already started. In fact, due to delay in getting the certificate, we missed releasing Indu Sarkar overseas. We got the certificate just four days before the release but to release in Overseas, you need to be ready well in advance.
But we all know how the Censor Board is functioning and suggesting unfair cuts since the time Pahlaj Nihalani took over as chairman in early 2015. Indu Sarkar, meanwhile, is a film that has controversial content. Hence, don’t you think that if you had gone to the Censors few months before, you would have got more time to fight and perhaps get your film cleared sans any cuts?
I agree with you. But this is how Hindi films are made – not much time is kept between the time it’s completely ready and its release date. And let me tell you that I went to the Censor Board almost a month ago to get the certificate. The Examining Committee (EC) first saw the film and gave me the list. I then skipped showing Indu Sarkar to the Revising Committee (RC) and went directly to FCAT (Film Certification Appellate Tribunal). But it’s a government office and doesn’t work on holidays and weekends. Moreover, they had other pending films to look at and they told me that they can see Indu Sarkar only on July 27 while my film was to release on July 28. For two days, we were clueless, not knowing what to do and were busy discussing and deliberating. So we then approached the RC and even they took time as they watch five-six films in a day. They however retained a lot of things in the film which the EC had asked to remove like the mentions of RSS, Akali, and Kishore Kumar etc. I really appreciate that. Rest of the scenes I had to cut as I had no other option. Anybody else in my film would have done the same thing.
You had said in an interview few days ago that you didn’t get the required support from the industry. Many were of the opinion that since Indu Sarkar is a small film, maybe that’s why prominent filmmakers and Bollywood celebrities didn’t bother to talk about it. However, there’s another film releasing, Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, which is also facing problems and yet it’s being talked about. Why do you think your film got cold shoulder from the industry?
I guess a lot of people didn’t come out to support because Indu Sarkar got into a political war. They feared perhaps that there would be political ramifications. These people thought that it’s best to be neutral rather than to take sides. But that’s okay. I have absolutely no regret or ill-will for anybody.
So would you be now wary of taking up such political subjects?
No, absolutely not. Nothing can deter me. I make cinema the way I want. I have always been a fighter. If I feel like making a film on a political subject, I’ll definitely do so. Right now, I am happy with the acclaim that I have got for Indu Sarkar. Those who saw Calendar Girls and said that I have not made the ‘Madhur Bhandarkar type’ of cinema have praised me for the way I handled Indu Sarkar. It was said that ‘Madhur Bhandarkar of Chandni Bar is back’ and this is quite heartening.
What next? Do you have an idea in your mind?
As of now, I am taking a break. I plan to travel. I do have a few ideas. I am thinking of a sequel to Chandni Bar. There are other subjects in hand as well.