Hindi Cinema’s Dark Horse
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Beehad mein to Baaghi hote hai, Dacait to Parliament mein milte hain... As film halls reverberated with applause over this dialogue and other such gems, it was certain that Paan Singh Tomar had resonated with audiences from across India's demographics. While the industry and the audience commemorated the return of wholesome entertainment — a good script, intense performances and a theme that sensitises the audience towards a sociopolitical issue — its director Tigmanshu Dhulia had a quiet celebration.
"At a screening some time ago, a trade analyst watched Paan Singh Tomar and gave his verdict that it would not work. I felt very bad then. But today, the joy has doubled because reviewers and audiences have both appreciated the film," says Dhulia from his Versova office, from where he is now planning his next two projects — Milan Talkies and the sequel to Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster.
The box-office success of Paan Singh Tomar has suddenly elevated Dhulia's position in the industry. His phone hasn't stopped buzzing ever since the film released and producers lining up outside his office are a sure sign of his changing fortunes in Bollywood. This success could have easily been his almost two years ago. "Like most things in life, every film and each director charts a unique journey," says Dhulia. However, he doesn't have qualms about the delayed release. "Two years back, when we set out to release the film, UTV had a different plan. They wanted to take it to festivals first, which, in retrospect, was a good move," says the 44-year-old.
What has made this success sweeter is that it has come soon after his last film, Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster, which also set the cash registers ringing. "Saheb was the much needed start. Since I was the producer, I couldn't hold on to the movie for long. I released it with the faith that it was a good film and it would work," he says. It did, and also many doors opened for Dhulia. The decision to release Paan Singh Tomar can be partly credited to Saheb's success — it was, after all, the director's first box office success.
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