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Misfit director hopes his 'Charas' will fit

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

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Filmmaker Tigmanshu Dhulia, whose first film "Haasil" created a ripple of interest, believes he is a misfit in the Hindi film industry.

Dhulia is now ready with his second feature film "Charas", about male bonding, drug trafficking, turning one's back on the establishment, and just having a good time.

"I guess I've grown up. I was a rebel without a cause during "Haasil". Anyone could take me for a ride. But now I know exactly who's up to what, why," Dhulia told IANS.

"It isn't as though I get into trouble all the time. But yes, I'm a misfit. I don't come from a film family. Fortunately, 'Charas' was produced by a friend and I had no trouble making it."

His new film releases Friday.

"Haasil" was a film full of anger. "But 'Charas' isn't a grim film. It doesn't try to convey a message. I'm a huge fan of mainstream Hindi cinema. I'm not one of those filmmakers who looks down on our cinema and thinks Hollywood is the place to be in. I'm a big fan of the 1970s Hindi cinema.

"In fact the look of 'Charas' is inspired by Dev Anand's 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna'."

Though not a huge fan of Hollywood, Dhulia admits there's an element of Steven Soderbergh's Oscar-winning film "Traffic" in "Charas".

"But the similarity is skin deep. My film addresses itself to many issues besides drugs. So yes, 'Charas' is an ambitious film... I want to get away from the image of the serious, hard-hitting, issue-based and intense filmmaker tag that I've acquired after 'Haasil'.

"I want to make all kinds of movies. Tomorrow, I might want to make a comedy. I want to do what I want to, not what I have to."

"Charas" is inspired by a magazine article on drug trafficking in Himachal Pradesh.

"I also got to know that Oliver Stone made his film on civil war in El Salvador by living amid the guerrillas and even using their arms and ammunitions. That really blew my mind.

"I went to Himachal, spent time there with the locals and pretended I was making a romantic film called 'Yaaraana'! Challenges are essential to creativity."

Dhulia slots "Charas" as a straight-from-the-hip action adventure.

"'Haasil' was a Hindi belt film. 'Charas' is far more upmarket in ambience. In my first film, I used some autobiographical elements. In 'Charas' I move into a territory and theme completely unknown to me. In that sense, 'Charas' is purer cinema."

Between the two films, Dhulia says he has tried to find a niche in Bollywood, and failed. "That's because I'm confused about Bollywood cinema. Hindi cinema is going through seismic changes."

Like "Masti" and "Main Hoon Na", "Charas" too celebrates male bonding.

"The rapport between Jimmy Shergil and Uday Chopra will remind audiences of Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan in 'Sholay' and 'Ram Balram'. But my film is closely affiliated to 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna'. Like Dev Anand my two heroes go to a drug heartland in search of someone who's lost."

Dhulia is very happy with his cast.

"I was warned against signing Namrata Shirodkar. But in her I saw the same combination of fragility and sensuousness as the Hollywood actress Winona Ryder.

"When I started making 'Charas', 'Haasil' had not been released. I was a complete unknown. No actor wanted to work with me except Irfan Khan and Jimmy. Uday agreed because he was Jimmy's friend.

"I'm hoping the title and Irfan will draw audiences in."


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