Interview Hindi

Tabu birthday special – Madhur Bhandarkar gets nostalgic about her Chandni Bar act

The filmmaker is glad Tabu trusted his vision though he was a newcomer for all practical purposes, with just one film to his credit.

Keyur Seta

Tabu recently became part of the Golmaal franchise, and the fourth part, Golmaal Again, has become a big hit. But the actress remains better known for her powerful performances in sensible, hard-hitting cinema. One of the highlights of her career is Madhur Bhandarkar’s Chandni Bar (2001). The film was also important for the director since it was his first success and brought him to public notice.

On the 46th birthday of Tabassum Fatima Hashmi aka Tabu today (4 November), we got talking to Bhandarkar about one of her finest performances and how it came about.

“Chandni Bar was one of Tabu’s career-best performances," the director said. "It was fun to work with her. She is down-to-earth and very simple. We got along very well on the first day of the shoot itself. The best part is that she completely surrenders to the director’s vision. She is a very chilled-out person." 

Bhandarkar is grateful that Tabu, who was already an established actress at the time even if she wasn't celebrated for her performances, trusted him though he was relatively new and had directed only one film, Trishakti (1999), which did not do well at the box office.

"It was very nice of her because I was a newcomer then," he recalled. "I had done only one film. But she still understood my script and my vision. She never had that star attitude. We didn’t realize when the [shooting for the] movie started and ended. That was our bonding and camaraderie on the sets.”

Chandni Bar was shot in some brutally realistic locations. But Tabu had no hesitation going to such places and performing there. “We had to shoot on very real locations like small bylanes," said Bhandarkar. "But she was absolutely cool with it. For my movie, she got a different view of Mumbai city. But she was comfortable.”

Madhur Bhandarkar

The filmmaker also spoke about the tight budget on which the film was shot. “We had a very small budget. It was made in Rs1.25-1.50 crore,” he said. Even in those days that was a really small budget.

Despite the fact that Tabu was a star, it wasn’t difficult for the largely unknown director to get her on board for the film. “She loved the script and the idea," Bhandarkar said. "She felt that she was perfect for the role. I replied that I also wrote the role keeping her in mind. When I narrated the script, she could visualize herself in the role. She felt that she would be able to do justice to the role.”

Bhandarkar was happy with the result as well. “This is exactly what she did," he said. "There were a lot of shades of a girl who comes from UP to Mumbai and gets married to a gangster [Atul Kulkarni], how her husband gets killed and how she survives. She understood the graph well. She is a very switch-on, switch-off actor. She was bang on and knew the character. And you know the kind of applause and awards, from popular to National, she received.”

Asked for his best scene from the film, Bhandarkar said it was the one between Tabu and Rajpal Yadav: “The whole conversation between her and Rajpal Yadav on the phone when she is in need of money and how he calls the customer. That scene was in one take and it was a long shot.” 

Bhandarkar seems to be happy with Tabu’s transition to a mass entertainer like Golmaal Again. “I am happy with the kind of work she is doing right now too,” he said.