Posted by Vivek on December 29, 2010 | No Comments

It does not happen very often, but it happens when I meet Tigmanshu. I rarely get to talk to an Indian filmmaker and scriptwriter. By an Indian filmmaker, I mean, one who gets his stories from his environment. Not from a DVD of a Hollywood, Pilipino or Korean film. Those folks are Bollywood, Tigmanshu is about Indian cinema, Indian storytelling in an Indian ethos, although his audience is global. He takes, us the audience, into parts of India, that others may not be comfortable going. He does it in an entertaining, yet unique manner. In fact his films could well be the news article you read the day before, but told in a dramatic manner. Tigmanshu has arguably taken Indian cinema to dramatic heights, just by being true to his roots. He has been the instrument of change that Indian cinema needed to shed it’s Bollywoodness.

And no, you don’t see his films only in festivals. They are seen by the masses.

Now 2011 has some of the most awaited films coming, all of which have the Tigmanshu Dhulia touch in them…PAAN SINGH TOMAR, SAHIB BIWI AUR GANGSTER and a whole lot more.

Over to Tigmanshu:

Tigmanshu the scriptwriter or Tigmanshu the director, which is more fulfilling ?
Its difficult to separate the two because when I write I am already blocking my scene but the real satisfaction comes when I see the scene being enacted in front which has been created by my vision. It was very frustrating when I was writing for others and the scenes were not the same as I had imagined.

Talk about Paan Singh Tomar ?
I can refer to Paan Singh as a deadline which I had given myself to become a director when I read about him in a magazine while researching for Bandit Queen. I told myself that the day I become a director I will definitely make a film on him. Well I could not make it as my first film but I did find the actor who would eventually play the role of Paan Singh in Irrfan when I made Haasil with him. Getting someone to produce Paan Singh was a frustrating exercise since the subject needed research as Paan Singh was no Gandhi and nothing was available on him anywhere. In India the discipline of research is seldom followed, and nobody was ready to put in a development fund but eventually UTV liked the idea and gave the go ahead. Finally with another writer Sanjay Chohan I started touring the Chambal ravines and Paan Singh’s village to look for his real story, it took us six months and another three to come up with the first draft of the script. Now since the film is complete I feel that I have completed a small aspect of learning how to tell a story.

Your view on the state of screenplay writing in Indian Film & Television?
Its quiet sad that the current Hindi film writers are not up to the mark. I will not accuse them for being inadequate in fact there are quiet a few who have learnt the craft from various film schools and are very disciplined but the problem is that they all ape the West,  in their style and content. Our writers are not rooted and the same goes with many film makers. In this age of Youtube and Facebook where information is so easy to get no film after Sholay can be called a classic,unlike the South films which are much better then Hindi films. We have information but no analysis we are all opinionated. Either the writer is rehashing some Hollywood hit or they are making sequels of their own hits which is the latest trend in Bollywood ( I hate the term Bollywood only when I feel like cursing the industry I use it). If you look back at all the big blockbusters of Hindi cinema they are all rooted in our culture and the storytelling is very Indian, Mother India/Pakeeza/Ganga Jamuna/Sholay/Lagaan/Gadar/Dil Chahta Hai/Dilwale Dulahaniya Le Jayenge/Rang de Basanti/Munna Bhai, all these films are talking about an age, a certain geography and a certain culture. By rooted I do not mean the village but any story which talks about the times and the various social political variants. Sadly our writers are educated but not wise enough to understand that India has a great tradition of story telling and there are many stories still untold.

The influence of Allahbad and National School of Drama, on you as a writer and a filmmaker?
Being born and bred in Allahabad has certainly been a boon otherwise I would have been another person. Unlike any other Indian city Allahabad has a great cultural mix, which we very fondly call the Ganga Jamuna tehzeeb. The mix of India and the West. My English professor at the University was Dr Amar Singh who used to wear a dhoti, chew the paan, wear a sandal, a tika and spoke immaculate English, that was Allahabad. I saw all the classic Westerns and the War films on screen which my colleagues saw on video much later in life, we had a film club and saw Godard and the French new wave when I was in the twelfth standard. Even the rock music scene was superb. Now its all changed. The drama school was an eye opener, all the intellectual talk was being executed and suddenly I realized that art was not only about talking about it. I specialized in acting and NSD made me realize that I was such a bad actor, I give all the credit to the drama school for giving me the film sense.

A lot of your films are set in the Hinterland of India, as opposed to the clichéd trend of making it a Mumbai based movie, why do you think that is do?
I think i have already answered that question but I guess it is all about your upbringing. I always think of the geography of the film first. For me location is the biggest character and the rest follows. Small towns still have real conflicts and color. Big cities all look the same where malls have become temples of modern India.

On your experience working with Channel 4 in UK, as compared to working for a Production House in India?
I have worked in Channel Four Production only as an Assistant Director but to get the record straight my debut as a Director was for a Channel Four production called Krishna’s Dream which I did for Boby Bedi. It was a honor and I am proud to have been associated with Channel Four. Channel Four lives up to its tradition and is a visionary production house. I watch their shows and they continue to surprise me all the time.

Your view on whether the Script can be a star or a Star is needed, from an Indian film perspective?
The script will always be the star but its a cliché. Eventually film making involves a large amount of money. Budgets fail not the film. If you dont have a star to back the film the budget should always be controlled.

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