Filmmaker Tigmanshu Dhulia, who is riding high on the success of "Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster Returns" (SBAGR), says it was the arrival of his doggy named Sahiba, his "lucky mascot", which changed the course of his career.
He says he has even paid a small tribute to her in his latest film.
"The minute she arrived in my life, my career changed. When she walked in, 'Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster' commenced. She is my lucky mascot," Dhulia said about Sahiba.
The "Paan Singh Tomar" director got talking about his struggle with his past projects and his tryst with success. Excerpts from the interview:
Q. SBAGR is far more technically polished than the first film.
A. I don't rely on technique for the effectuality of my films. No, my films are not technique-driven. I don't depend on camera angles or fancy shots to tell my story. But yes, the sequel is more opulent than the first film. The first film was shot in just 29 days, guerrilla style, because there was no budget. We didn't pay any of the main actors. We didn't have money to pay any of the main actors or technicians.
Q. I am sure you will make up for their unpaid remuneration this time around.
A. I hope to! Let's see what the collections are. I made "Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster" because I was waiting for the release of "Paan Singh Tomar". UTV was taking time. Rather than wait, I decided to make this other film. "Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster" was made because I needed to work while waiting for the release of "Paan Singh Tomar".
Q. Would you say "Paan Singh Tomar" changed the direction of your career?
A. I'd say "Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster" did that. But I actually owe my career to my first film "Haasil". For seven years after "Haasil", I had no release. All the films that I started during that period got stalled... But you know what? If I had made a typical massy film as my directorial debut, I'd have been forgotten in those seven years. But because "Haasil" was a different kind of film, I held on.
Q. You named your dog Action post your "Haasil" days, so you could say the magical word that you as a director craved to in the sets?
A. Yes! Action is still there, hale and hearty. But my friends found another doggie on the streets, almost dead in a drain. We brought her to my office because my friends know I love dogs. We named her Sahiba. The minute she arrived in my life, my career changed. When she walked in, 'Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster' commenced. She is my lucky mascot. A little tribute was paid to Sahiba in 'Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster'.
Q. My favourite actor in "Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster", and now the sequel, is Rajeev Gupta. He plays the 'porn' politician in the sequel.
A. He was there in in all my films, including "Paan Singh Tomar". Rajeev Gupta is a small entrepreneur in Delhi. He runs a shop for auto spare parts and nurtures a passion for acting. I was assisting Mani Ratnam in "Dil Se..." when I first got Rajeev to do a small role. He keeps doing small roles to keep the actor alive within him.
Q. You've written a scene in SBAGR where Rajeev Gupta is caught looking at porn on his laptop?
A. That was written specially for Rajeev. It's an eight-minute long sequence. It's inspired by those two politicians from real life caught enjoying porn in parliament. I think we need to develop a sense of humour about Indian politics.
Q. In fact Irrfan's part-time politician's character is named Raja Bhaiyya?
A. (Laughs) You know, Irrfan's name in the film is Indrajeet Singh. But everyone calls him Raja Bhaiyya because he is a prince. His character is not inspired by Raja Bhaiyya (Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya, independent legislator from Uttar Pradesh). Irrfan's character represents a fading feudalism. In real life, such former feudal lords get the same respect from the staff in their haveli as they did earlier, while everything else outside has changed.
Q. What made you choose Irrfan to play this role?
A. Actually, Neil Nitin Mukesh was supposed to do a film. He saw "Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster" and wanted to be in the sequel. We met and shook hands. But as I wrote the script, I realised I needed an older man for the part. The Neil-Mahie Gill pair would have looked odd. That's when I asked Irrfan. Luckily, he agreed. I owe Neil a role.