‘Heroine’ Knocked Out

By Bikas Bhagat | Last Updated: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - 13:43
Bikas Bhagat

Director Madhur Bhandarkar is known for making films which make people sit back and think. This National Award winner is a maverick when it comes to using cinema as the tool to disseminate social causes.

In most of his films, Madhur Bhandarkar has made female the main protagonist. This has been seen in his successful films like ‘Chandni Bar’ (Tabu), ‘Satta’(Raveena Tandon), ‘Page 3’ (Konkona Sen Sharma), ‘Corporate’ (Bipasha Basu) and ‘Fashion’(Priyanka Chopra).

Now, in an industry which conventionally remains ‘hero centric’, someone who is a flag bearer of sorts for the fairer sex gets squashed at the hands of a ‘Heroine’ is epic irony, especially when this film of his was touted as the most ambitious project till date.

Yes, I am talking about Madhur’s much publicised ‘Heroine,’ which he had to pull off after the lead actor Aishwarya Rai announced that she was pregnant. It’s really sad. No…I mean of course at one hand the news of Ash’s pregnancy is definitely a matter of great joy, on the other hand it (shelving of the film) ridiculed the basic ethics of cinema and film making business in India.

In Bollywood runs a system which I think is kind of unique in terms of its functioning and which imparts a very innate character to the industry where thousands work in a cohesive form to come out with a product, which the whole nation enjoys. That is the bond of trust and unspoken conviction of reliance.

In this whole pregnancy-film scrapping brouhaha, I felt the lady underestimated the worth of this bond.

While the film’s ‘will it or won’t it be made’ Hamlet-ian dilemma has taken the media by storm, there are plenty of speculations, allegations and whisper campaigns doing the rounds. And amidst it all are some mooted questions – did Ash deliberately hide her pregnancy news from her producers? Or did they have an inkling?

Well, I think Ash has been a little irresponsible here. I am sure the actress would have known the kind of films Madhur makes and after the film’s announcement at the prestigious Cannes’ this year, she must have got a fair idea about how big the canvas for ‘Heroine’ was.

And also owing to her impressive line of work and experience, she would have well fathomed the reason for her being cast in the film. There has to be some sound and solid reasoning by makers to believe as to why only Ash could have only pulled the character off convincingly enough. Despite all that, it’s strange that she didn’t think it ok to familiarise the makers of her condition.

In fact, Ash’s representative alleged that director Madhur Bhandarkar extended the shoot of the film by another 2 to 4 months in a blatant disregard of the months and dates offered and scheduled for the actress to shoot ‘Heroine’.

Further, it was said that the makers wanted Ash to do two item songs in the film. They also needed her for a bathing scene under a waterfall and to smoke on-screen.

The said demands do sound ridiculous, but again not all directors can make films and win three National Awards just like that. Filmmaking is a creative business and given the evolving nature of cinema, it wouldn’t be wise to take them for ride over an extension of a couple of months of shooting schedules and all that fuss.

But surely knowing the kind of cinema the director is known for, I can assure you it is absolutely unacceptable and not nice for any informed audience member to see a pregnant woman drink and smoke and snort coke and sleep with various people. Anybody would cringe, seriously I would!

So even as Ash’s rep maintained that it was the preposterous demands of Madhur Bhandarkar that led to the sacking of her from the film, the prospects of ‘Heroine’ as of now look bleak as the events that unfolded left the flick in an indefinite limbo.

Meanwhile, the producers have decided to stall shooting than “proceed with an incredibly demanding schedule”. But that’s just the polite way of quelling the rumours surrounding it. Fact is, the pregnancy, unfortunately, has thrown a spanner into UTV’s (film producers) plans.

Amusingly, a well-placed source revealed, “Ronnie Screwvala (the UTV head honcho) says he now realises how apt his name is – ‘screwed’wala!”

First Published: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - 13:43

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