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Dialogues have always been his strength. Sharp and witty, they lend Vishal Bhardwaj's dark and satirical tales a few light moments. But the acclaimed director of films such as Maqbool and Omkara has, for the first time, attempted a comedy. Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, which released on January 11, says Bhardwaj, is a story that he chose to make into a film because he wanted to be true to his real-life persona. "I hate being serious nothing is worth being sombre about but somehow, my writing has always explored the contrasting side of me," he points out.
Initially, the filmmaker found himself struck by the world of crime and gangsters, a theme that has recurred in most of his movies, including his more recent Kaminey, where he treats the typical Bollywood judwaa bhai concept with Quentin Tarentino-esque madness. It is a world, after all, that Bhardwaj knows too well having been brought up in Meerut, UP, where crime was part of day-to-day life. Now, that fascination, he says, is nearly past. "Since I had explored to my heart's content the subjects I earlier dabbled in, it was time to explore something new," he explains.
In spite of Bhardwaj's conscious effort at a "light-hearted movie", Matru remains "meaningful". Using key characters like Mandola a capitalist businessman who turns into a socialist under the influence of alcohol his Oxford-returned daughter Bijlee and their Man Friday Matru, the story revolves around the issue of land scams. "Many such scams are being exposed every day in the country. And none of them is of less than Rs 100 crore. Rs 100-crore club yahaan bhi hai (there's a Rs 100 crore club here too)," he says.
His inherent humour, however, confesses Bhardwaj, was not easy to bring to paper. The filmmaker explains that the biggest challenge with this genre is that while writing, the mind throws up the easiest options. "But I realised that if I follow those, the result will not be as comical. So, I used to spend time thinking up alternatives," says Bhardwaj.
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