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Interview with Sanjay Chauhan: 50 Films that changed Bollywood

Feb 2017

Interview with Sanjay Chauhan: 50 Films that changed Bollywood

Sanjay Chauhan is considered one of the most acclaimed screen writers in Bollywood today. Mostly known for I Am Kalam (2011) for which he won the Filmfare Award for Best Story and Paan Singh Tomar (2012) which he co-wrote with director Tigmanshu Dhulia. He has written the story & screenplay for other Hindi films like Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster (2011) and Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster Returns (2013). Here is a snapshot of a quick tete-a-tete after his session 50 Films that changed Bollywood :

  • When you deal with realistic cinema, how do you know whether it will work or not?

When you feel strongly about something, if your gut feel says, when you are passionate about something, and if it works for you, it will work for at least a few people, not for all, but for a few and you have to tell the story, which means you just have to tell the story, it’s as simple as that.

  • How did you manage to keep a mix of fiction and reality in the movie, Paan Singh Tomar?

Any biopic cannot be 100% true to reality, you have to add fiction to it. Like Paan Singh Tomar we added fiction to it. Like the icecream thing, is not real, we created a character like icecream, and also the fiction about the Japanese girl who falls in love with Paan Singh Tomar did not exist in reality. In order to make the story interesting, you have to add fiction to reality. However the important thing is to not deviate from the real thing. For example, Anurag Kashyap was saying it was such a great opportunity to use ‘abuses’ in the film, but I felt like it was not needed, as I had written the story in Bundeli, which is such a sweet language and moreover the story is set in Chambal where people strictly do not abuse at all and so you just can’t abuse at all, to such an extent if you ever do, there will be violence, very much unlike Bhopal where it is common practice to abuse for example. So I didn’t use abuse unnecessarily in the film (except for a single instance where the coach uses it), then you lose the essence of the film.

  • Tell me a little bit about your hero, Dara Singh.

Yes I was a big fan of Dara Singh. For me he was a superman in real. Batman, Spiderman etc. are all fictional characters, I was never ever fascinated by those characters because for me Dara Singh was as real as real could be. I grew up in Ujjain where we would rush to watch his movies, we’d watch his movies over 100 times. Infact I had a great collection of VCDs of Dara Singh ji. So movies was such a fascination for me. After Dara Singh I started liking Dharmendra, because of his macho image. Similarly, in today’s times there are so many stars who are action heroes. Ajay Devgan for example doesn’t have the body of an action hero, but when he does the action on screen we believe it, that’s how convincing he is. Sunny Deol has the body and persona and so when he does action scenes on the screen we all believe it. Even for example how can you imagine someone like Aamir Khan doing action in a movie like Ghajini? He worked on it mentally and believed in it and that’s what you see on screen – his conviction and you believe it. So a lot depends upon your and your actor’s conviction and the whole value.

  • Among the contemporary Bollywood movies, which ones do you like?

Oh among the current crop of movies there are so many that I like. I loved Neerja, I loved the movie Pink and many others!


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