'I still don't get paid more than others'


He maintains a low-profile, but that is not a strategy. He doesn’t speak about his work but lets his work speak for him. He knows what he is best at and probably that is the reason he stands as one of the most successful directors today!

Creating a niche space for his kind of work in the Indian film industry, Tigmanshu Dhulia, the director-actor-screenwriter and casting director is now set to cut his way into mainstream commercial cinema with his upcoming film Bullet Raja.

“The first thing that struck me after completing the script was its scale,” shares Tigmanshu who has co-written the script with Amaresh Misra. “I thought about whom to cast because the actors should justify the big budget. I didn’t want to take an actor who had done a similar role.

Saif (Ali Khan) wanted to play such a character but hadn’t done a similar film.” Hence he zeroed down on his hero but made sure that the rest of the cast is equally powerful, “If I would have done casting like Pan... , then my hero would have been belittled,” says the ace director who chose to rope in actors like Gulshan Grover and Ravi Kishen for Bullet Raja.

While one wonders how he imagines that Jimmy Shergill will be the perfect Saheb or Irrfan would suit Pan Singh Tomar, Tigmanshu credits his theatre days. “I have learnt all this in NSD,” he proclaims taking Metrolife back to his days as a casting director in Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen.

“My motive was to get associated with him taki mera kuch ho jaye zindagi me,” he burst into a short laughter emphasising that Bandit... was a “crucial milestone in my life which made me learn –  if your actor looks the part, even if he isn’t much talented, half the battle is won!” Hence his actors come alive and become a favourite among audiences but he doesn’t talk about them.

“Kaam jitna achcha bolega, aap khud nahi bol paoge (sic),” and that is what happened as he graduated from his first film Haasil to Paan Singh Tomar. “When I started off, things were very difficult.

The industry was not ready for cinema which was devoid of the typical formula and was going through a transition face. Then I made Haasil which no producer wanted to back,” he analyses without agreeing that he is the most successful among his contemporaries adding, “I still don’t get paid more than them,” he laughs moving to a more serious thought.

“You have to keep a balance between aesthetics and commerce while satisfying both since you are dealing with so much money,” he explains the challenges in his profession where he treats his actors like kids but fights with his producer. “Actors are not machines. Agar mood kharab ho gaya perform kar nahi payega,” says the filmmaker who is adept at showcasing his life experiences on celluloid such as in his upcoming Bullet Raja.

“The film is all about attitude. The tevar in the Purvanchal area of UP,” form the essence, he says narrating phrases in his style: “Pran jaye par vachan na jaye. Marenge to marenge, kisi aur se nahi marwaenge. There is chivalry in these.” And even in his narrative-technique which everyone is waiting to experience before he takes a break due to backbreaking work, “I want to rest before taking up another script,” is his closing statement.

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