12 years ago, Meghna Mathur (Priyanka Chopra) had set out to fulfil her dream of being a supermodel, while Shonali Gujral (Kangana Ranaut) graced the ramp with her impeccable walk giving us goosebumps. Both being a part of a movie like ‘Fashion’, allowed us to enter into their lives as they embraced their journey. While the film went on to win several accolades, it was Madhur Bhandarkar’s craft of storytelling which struck a chord among the audience. The film also starred Mugdha Godse, Arjan Bajwa, Samir Soni, Arbaaz Khan, and Harsh Chhaya in pivotal roles.
It’s an undeniable fact that every time Madhur Bhandarkar’s name glistens on the silver screen, there is assurance while a lot of emotions take birth inside the cinema lovers. Films which mirror the reality of the glamour world; Stories focusing on the lives of models, actresses, journalists allowing one to resonate with them. Be it ‘Mahi Arora’ in ‘Heroine’, or ‘Meghna Mathur’ and ‘Shonali Gujral’ in ‘Fashion’ to ‘Madhvi Sharma’ from ‘Page 3’, these characters aren’t devoid of depth. As ‘Fashion’ clocks 12 years today, Madhur Bhandarkar in an exclusive chat with ETimes, opened up about the conceptualisation behind making the film, and how it was working with Priyanka and Kangana. He also opened up about his struggles in the film industry, and how a film like ‘Fashion’ stays relevant in the society till today.
We celebrate 12 years of ‘Fashion’ today. It is one such movie, which mirrors the reality of the glamour world. How did the exact idea emerge before putting across the storyline and creating the film?
Well, I’ve always had an inclination towards making films on different subjects involving different ideas. Before creating ‘Fashion’ I made films like ‘Chandni Bar’, ‘Page 3’ and ‘Traffic Signal’ which are weaved from the social strata. So for me, I always had this inquisitiveness in knowing what goes behind a ramp walk, what kind of people come there, what has been their story, etc. I wanted to show about the ups and downs about a model’s life, and how they absorb themselves in that zone. Luckily at that time, I had been attending a lot of fashion shows and as I said earlier I had an ardent desire to know what happens inside this world.
You see girls walking without any expression while they grace the ramp. That made me curious. I eventually met a lot of people in this industry, people who choreographed the fashion shows, some of them told me ‘we always ask the models to give away a poker expression’. People even stated, ‘Models are like hangers; we just want them to walk. Because the highlight of the fashion show is about carrying the intricate designer outfits with perfection, without paying much attention to their expressions of consciousness. You know that word ‘hanger’ stuck to me very much. This is when I thought, I have to make a movie in this world. I started visiting the backstage, meeting and interacting with various models and people. Initially, people were very apprehensive about meeting me, after I had made ‘Corporate’ (laughs). I used to hear ‘
Madhur ne corporate world ka band baja diya’.
‘Fashion’ is one such film which has been created from a lot of real-life experiences, stories, the characters have also been defined that way. Honestly, after the research, I felt there was so much material for me, I think today ‘Fashion’ can be made as a series with two seasons.
The film, its characters, and storyline treated as an eye-opener. People still talk about ‘Meghna’ and ‘Shonali’ as they are often given as examples to aspiring models in the glamour world
I think it’s a beautiful merger of two characters. Shonali, who’s already a supermodel and how he created her fate and mark, and then you see Meghna coming from a small town and how she becomes the next sensational model like her. Both the characters are very unapologetic and demeaning at the same time. These characters completely mesmerised with the meaning they had about themselves in the glamour world. There’s a dialogue in the movie by Meghna ‘
Success ki seedi chadte hue jin logo se mulaqat hoti hai … wohi log phir se seedi utarte huye bhi milte hai’. I think that holds a lot of relevance.
The real-life is even more dark but as a filmmaker, you have to pick the positives of the journey. Priyanka Chopra’s journey indeed spoke about positivity, like how she didn’t give up. She gets her redemption also when she brings Kangana home. It’s a good thing that people take their references because that’s what glamour makes you do at times. You have to be brave like them and always aspire to have your own stand. It makes me very happy that even today, films like ‘Page 3’, ‘Fashion’ and ‘Heroine’ relate and resonate a lot with people.
How long did you take to build this entire story?
It took around 6-7 months to scrape it out. A lot of people told me to keep the title something else, but I was very reluctant because I feel people should exactly know what I was talking about. I was very happy to have Priyanka and Kangana on board. Even though Kangana had a short screen time, she created a significant impact. Kangana’s entry during the ramp walk was so huge on the sets, we got goosebumps there itself.
Were Priyanka and Kangana the first choice for your film?
Absolutely yes. I was very happy that Priyanka wanted to do a women-centric cinema, with a completely different word, titled ‘Fashion’. I told Kangana, ‘don’t go by the length of the role, go by the strength of the role’. She always wanted to work with me. She was absolutely flawless. The way she absorbed the character and walked the ramp between action and cut, she is phenomenal, she goes to another level for her performance. She made a huge impact on the audience, even today people talk about her rampwalk. For me when I work in a film, I need to have a family. Both the girls complimented each other very well.
Since you always aspire to pick up experimental and realistic subjects, it requires a lot of courage. Doesn’t it become risky ?
I am very zealous in crafting my films. I am a fighter. I always fight it back. It’s something inside me. People like reading non-fiction books, and take interest in documentary films. I don’t know why people get upset when you make a film that way. All the films that I have made, from ‘Chandni Bar’ to ‘Indu Sarkar’, have been of huge controversies. It’s a good risk that I am willing to take. It has also given me loyal audience and fans.
Did you think while shooting a film like ‘Fashion’ it would garner a positive response from the audience and critics alike?
You know my movies have always been a mix of something. I always have this kind of divided reviews; always 60:40. A lot of people say that Madhur usually picks up and focuses on an ordinary person and shows their world in his way of storytelling. I like to take people from the middle class and put them into the world with which they are not acquainted. I want the common man in the country to connect and resonate with my films. Most of them have this prejudiced mindset that ‘Madhur Bhandarkar is now going to expose the so-and-so fashion world!’.
Coming to ‘Fashion’, it definitely had a mixed reaction. There were so many filmmakers who called me up saying, ‘
Madhur itne fashion shows dekhliye; lekin kabhi Socha bhi nahi Aisa bhi ek world hain karke.’ I am happy that, even today ‘Fashion’ holds a lot of ground within the common man and at the same time, there’s a lesson also.
Has the scenario in the fashion industry changed after ‘Fashion’ ?
A lot of things have changed actually. The fashion industry got the ‘showstopper’ phenomena very high. I remember when this film was running, a lot of people told me, that the common man will not understand what exactly a showstopper is. They said I had made a very big deal out of a showstopper.
But you know after ‘Fashion’, everybody asks for the showstopper. People got educated to it. Even in small shows, people have started asking ‘
showstopper kaun hain’. I also screened a special show for top models and people from the fashion industry, people were almost in tears and were completely overwhelmed by the concept, while the ‘showstopper’ culture became huge.
Since you have been a director, producer, writer and you have seen the gamut of the industry, what were the kind of obstacles you had faced?
I’ll tell you very honestly. I am a person who started his career with a flop film ‘Trishakti’ in 1999. It was a big disaster in my career. I got success after making ‘Chandni Bar’ and that got me recognition. But yes, I still see myself as an outsider. I am a movie buff, and my learning happened only through video cassettes. I am a self-taught person. I came around as a struggler who made it on his own.
My failure was the biggest lesson for me. I knew I have to be more pragmatic, more practical in presenting my craft. I had no connections in the film industry. As they say, ‘success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan’. I always felt you know, this whole phenomenon of the glamour world is different; Suddenly, people want to click pictures with you, suddenly people want to shun away; If you go to a party, people try to ignore you. And I’ve seen these things very closely. Post ‘Trishakti’, I literally used to gatecrash their parties. I was never invited. I used to tag along with small-time artists and secretaries only to network, as there was no trend of using social media. Today when I look back, indeed it was a very different kind of struggle for me.
And suddenly, after the success of ‘Chandni Bar’ overnight, people eventually invited me for their parties, people started keeping me at the top. Film Industry, fashion industry, everywhere I was being called. And that’s how I got the inspiration for making ‘Page 3’. Even today, I call myself an outsider who makes movies for his bread and butter. I live in my world and have struggled enough to know that what goes up has to come down. I go in my shell, I come out and be there.
How do you think the Entertainment Industry in India has evolved ever since you have been a part of it, like the type of movies that are made and accepted ?
I think today, there are a lot of opportunities to explore, and express due to the OTT space. It has been a big boon to the entertainment industry. People are actually creating good films and series. It has also opened doors for a lot of aspiring artists and actors. News directors and producers are also coming up.
Does the opinion of the general public influence you in creating a story?
I’ve always been a very interactive person. My connection with the common man is something I really value. I always look for subjects which are very intriguing. I try picking up stories from real lives, so indeed public opinion has a good influence on my craft.
Do you have any plans for a sequel for Fashion? Or any such films focusing on the glamour world?
I’ve been working on some subjects. I’ll be announcing very soon.
There are so aspiring ‘Meghna Mathurs’ out there wishing to create a mark for themselves in the glamour world. Is there anything you’d want to say them ?
I feel people should complete their studies first, before stepping into this industry. Education gives you a lot of backing. And apart from that you need a lot of dedication, as you have to focus only on your work. You have to be more pragmatic and practical when you are a part of this industry. They should also give a time limit to their career. It’s not a cakewalk. There’s a lot of struggle in this world.
Any message to aspiring filmmakers?
Make films according to your enthusiasm and conviction. Create and do what you feel like, make sure your conviction never dies. Make films about things that you believe in, not for pleasing people.
Source From : Times Of India