Director Madhur Bhandarkar says when he announced Babli Bouncer, many people thought the film would be a hard-hitting drama like the previous movies in his filmography.
However, Bhandarkar said he wanted to develop the Tamannaah Bhatia-starrer as a breezy comedy, especially when the world had been through turmoil due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Like all my films, Babli Bouncer also has a social message. My movies have always had humour, be it Traffic Signal, Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji. A lot of people thought Babli Bouncer will be a serious film.
“I deliberately wanted to make a light-hearted comedy film. A heartfelt, breezy movie so that people connect with it. I chose to make a comedy film because of what the world has gone through in two years,” the director told PTI in an interview.
The cast and crew had just started work on the film when the pandemic hit the country, added Bhandarkar.
“Everything was globally locked and the whole industry was going through a crisis, theatres were shut. We were just watching OTT films, documentaries, and series,” he said.
Set in Asola Fatehpur, the real ‘bouncer town’ of North India, Babli Bouncer follows the story of the titular character played by Bhatia who moves to Delhi in the pursuit of finding a job, and makes it big as a bouncer.
The filmmaker, also known for women-centric titles such as Satta, Chandni Bar and Fashion, said the basic idea of the story came from his writer friend Amit Joshi, but later they decided to create the world around a female bouncer.
“I have always taken strong women as protagonists. I thought let us make a film from that perspective. Then my writers came in Amit Joshi, Aradhana Debnath. We also did our research where we came to know how many people came from that village to Delhi for work.” Bhandarkar said he is often labelled as a director who makes “women-centric films” or “topical cinema”, but he has no qualms about it.
“I have created a genre of myself. I took a break for two to three years. I didn’t make a movie. I like to travel, I like to meet people and I like to go to some place abroad or serve as jury at film festivals. So, I am not a person who has to make a film every year,” he added.
This year, the director is also going to release a pandemic-based movie called India Lockdown, which he described as a documentary drama set in the first wave of the virus breakout. Starring Prakash Belwade, Sai Tamhankar, Prateik Babbar, Shweta Basu Prasad and Aahana Kumra, the film will have a direct-to-digital release.
“I wanted to tell a humane story. How people across sections like sex workers, migrant workers, air hostesses, and the elderly survived that time. It will also be released on OTT. The platform will be decided soon.” At a time when lavishly-mounted spectacle films are dominating the box office, Bhandarkar said he has always decided the budget of his movies on the basis of his subject.
“All my movies have made money. I am a filmmaker who makes a movie on a budget. I made Chandni Bar for Rs 1.5 crore and Fashion for Rs 22 crores. After the success of ‘Fashion’, I did a small-budget film Jail with Neil Nitin Mukesh and Manoj Bajpayee.
“For me, the subject decides the budget. Babli Bouncer has more budget than India Lockdown. Some movies may work, some may not. I stick to my genre of cinema,” he said. Also starring Saurabh Shukla, Abhishek Bajaj and Sahil Vaid in pivotal roles, Babli Bouncer is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.