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I think I am a gangster at heart: Vishal Bhardwaj at Film Bazaar 2018


The filmmaker speaks about his journey in cinema and what defines his choices in a conversation with Nasreen Munni Kabir.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Sukhpreet Kahlon

In a session titled ‘Badlands and Gender’, producer-director-composer-singer Vishal Bhardwaj was in conversation with documentary filmmaker and writer Nasreen Munni Kabir about the female characters in his films.

Kabir began by drawing attention to the fact that Bhardwaj was a singer and requested him to hum a few lines, which he did, much to the audience's delight.

Talking about his initial years and interest in poetry, Bhardwaj spoke about why he became a composer instead of a singer, saying the latter would have required immense physical commitment, which he did not want to give at that time. "I was greedy for success, so I became a composer," he said.

He narrated incidents that led him to filmmaking, saying his work as a composer enabled him to keep a keen ear and develop a sense of rhythm, attributes that aided him immensely as a filmmaker. "When an actor was not able to get the rhythm while acting or in speech, I used to catch them very quickly," he remarked.

Coming to the portrayal of women in his films, Bhardwaj said, "In my family, I observed that women had more strength... and I found them more interesting to explore because in cinema, in the 1980s and 1990s, they were using women as props. In fact, till 7 Khoon Maaf (2011), producers would ask to cut the budget of a film by 30-40% if there was a female protagonist."

He took the enthralled audience through a journey of his works and experiences, his fascination for Shakespeare, his methodology as a director, offering insights of immense value to young filmmakers.

Nasreen Munni Kabir stressed on the way in which Bhardwaj’s use of language had changed the rules of how films were using language in cinema. Narrating his experiences in Uttar Pradesh, the filmmaker said, "Language has been my passion because of my poetry," and emphasized that he embraced the language of the street. He also shared responses to his film Omkara (2006), where people got offended and were quite scandalized on seeing their mainstream stars using cuss words from the hinterland.

Responding to a question from an audience member on the violence in his films, Bhardwaj said, "I think I am a gangster at heart… I try to find poetry in violence."

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