One conversation with debutant director Soumik Sen and you realize that he is as unassuming as a Bollywood filmmaker could get. Soft spoken and down to earth, Soumik admits more than a couple of times that for him, it is indeed a big deal to be actually directing Madhuri Dixit in a film.
“Gulaab Gang wouldn’t have been made had Madhuri not said yes,” confesses Soumik, “See, I have not assisted anyone. On the other hand she is a legend. She has done it all and has nothing to prove to anyone. Her body of work and her name can’t be compared with anyone else. I shall be eternally grateful that Madhuri agreed to play the central protagonist in my film.”
Not many are aware that before joining movies, Soumik was an economist. Once he moved to Mumbai, he met producer Raj Kaushal and wrote Anthony Kaun Hai for him. Post that he also wrote films like Ru Ba Ru and Meerabai Not Out before setting his eyes on the Kishore Kumar biopic.
“I also wrote Gulaab Gang and it so happened that this was the first film that Madhuri was interested in. Then I met Anubhav Sinha who had just finished Ra.One. He was in Benaras then and had just started his company. We both carried similar passion for our very first outings. Anubhav believed in the film, Madhuri was interested as well and together we were on to kick-start Gulaab Gang,” details Soumik.
In Soumik’s own words, it was a ‘nerve wrecking’ experience no less when he met Madhuri for the first time ever.
“I had got through Rikkuji (Madhuri’s erstwhile Manager). I gathered courage and told Madhuri about the core storyline. Also, I had done a couple of songs and played them to her. She was interested and asked me to come back with the dialogue draft. Once I was ready with that, I gave her a proper narration. She was nice enough to ask me when I would be ready to begin shooting. I just told her that I was ready and would be ready to roll the moment she gives a go ahead,” Soumik recollects.
Today when the film is ready for release, Soumik is happy to have lived his dream of telling a tale that has woman as not just a protagonist but also an antagonist.
He says, “I have loved films belonging to the Western genre as they inherently have a lot of dramatic elements to them. However whether it is in Hollywood or Bollywood, this genre is always male centric. You pick up a Sholay or a Dabangg, it is always a man v/s man. I felt that a woman v/s woman conflict has never happened before and this is where Gulaab Gang with Madhuri and Juhi (Chawla) took shape.”
Moreover, I also wanted to set my film it in rural India. I truly believe that India’s beauty is not in cities as they are very ugly. On the other hand villages are very stunning and beautiful. India is a wonderful place to set a Western.”