By Arundhuti Banerjee
Mumbai, March 4 (IANS) Taapsee Pannu’s latest release “Thappad” has won critical acclaim as well as positive response from the film fraternity. The film has started a conversation on domestic violence from an entirely new perspective among niche viewers, and director Anubhav Sinha feels overwhelmed by all the love.
“The last time I started getting thousands of good words was after the release of ‘Article 15’. I ran away to Gulmarg, to the mountains where there was no network! I get scared of such love where people come out of the theatre and say, ‘this is the best work of Anubav Sinha till date’. I feel the pressure and wonder what will I do next. Now I think I cannot deliver anything that is average,” Sinha told IANS.
He added: “It is not easy to deliver a good film and take the expectation of the audience one level higher every time. I am overwhelmed and pressured. I cannot deal with so much love! Thank you so much (to the audience) but I want to disappear!” the filmmaker said, with a deep breath.
Starting his career on television, Anubhav directed basic commercial stuff in Bollywood during his early phase, which saw releases such as “Tum Bin” (2001), “Dus” (2005), “Tathastu” (2006), “Cash” (2007) and “Ra.One” (2011). His turnaround film was “Mulk” in 2018, followed by “Article 15” last year and “Thappad” now.
At a pre-release screening for select media, Sinha had said his last three releases — “Mulk”, “Article 15” and “Thappad” — define a discrimination trilogy of sorts, representing oppression on grounds of religion, caste and gender respectively.
Did he ever imagine he could one day narrate a Bollywood film entirely around a slap? “This is a fantastic time for us, storyteller. When I started my career in television, there was a certain type of stories that were told. Who would have thought that one day I would get a chance to make a film on a story that is based on nothing, just a slap — a habit or practice that has been normalised for so long that if the woman gets upset over it, society says she is ‘over-reacting’. I would say that the credit goes to audience who has given us the confidence to tell stories and raise questions on a subject that matter to us, that too in mainstream space.”
On the co-existence of a variety of cinema and on how every film is finding an audience, he said: “Just look at these past three weeks. On February 21, a film like ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan’ released, which is a gay love story. Next released my film ‘Thappad’ and in the coming Friday, a commercial Bollywood formula film like ‘Baaghi 3’ is releasing. We all have our diverse audience.”
Not long back, Sinha took a stand against CAA and student violence at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. Along with several intellectuals and common citizens, he hit the road to be part of a peaceful protest.
Being a filmmaker, what kind of responsibility does he feel he owes to society, beyond the films he makes? “There is a difference between an activist and a celebrity and filmmaker. Do not take us that seriously! I am a responsible, opinionated citizen who raises questions on things that matters through his cinema. It is that simple. I want people to start a conversation and ask a question after watching my film. That is it. We (filmmakers) really do not have a responsibility beyond that. We only try to inspire people positively,” Sinha signed off.
(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at email@example.com)