Babli Bouncer: Was Tamannaah Bhatia the first choice for film? Director Madhur Bhandarkar reveals

Babli Bouncer: Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar is gearing up for the OTT release of his upcoming film Babli Bouncer, starring Tamannaah Bhatia. The film about the World of female bouncers, will release on September 23 on Disney+ Hotstar in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. A coming-of-age feel-good story with a slice-of-life comedic tone, Babli Bouncer is set in the real ‘bouncer town’ of North India – Asola Fatepur. Tamannaah Bhatia will be seen in a never-seen-before avatar, as Babli Bouncer, alongside Saurabh Shukla, Abhishek Bajaj and Sahil Vaid in pivotal roles.

Ahead of the film’s OTT release, we at DNA caught up with the National Award-winning director Madhur Bhandarkar and spoke to him about Babli Bouncer, casting Tamannaah Bhatia in the lead role and more. “I was very fascinated by the idea of being a girl in a bouncers world. We have seen male bouncers, rarely females. So, I wanted to make a breezy, heartfelt, good film,” said Madhur Bhandarkar.

Describing Tamannaah’s character in the film, Madhur Bhandarkar said that she is feisty, naughty, emotional and becomes robust as well when she has to put up a fight. “I always thought I haven’t portrayed such a character for my protagonist and so when I narrated it to Disney Hotstar, they liked the idea as an original OTT film,” the filmmaker said. He added, “Then we approached Tamannaah Bhatia and she loved the script.” Madhur further said that Tamannaah herself wanted to make “a strong film with a good backdrop.” He said, “She loved the script when I narrated it to her and said it’s beautifully written.”

Ask him if Tamannaah was the first choice for Babli Bouncer, Madhur Bhandarkar told DNA, “When we make a film, multiple times we think of (casting) different actresses. The same happened to me. Then the pandemic happened, things were not moving and later I narrated the film to Disney+Hotstar. Thereafter, we obviously kept thinking about who should we cast and they said why don’t we see Tamannaah Bhatia.” Madhur added, “Trust me I had not seen any of her films except Baahubali 1. I had not seen any of her previous works. I Googled and saw her pictures. Later, I met her. It’s not like I didn’t know who she was but it had been brief meetings at award functions/events. So, I said let me see because my film requires a lot of ‘performance’ and this movie had a lot of ups and downs in terms of the character which is not one-dimensional. So, I said okay I don’t mind meeting her.” Madhur further elaborating on the process of getting Tamannaah on board said, “I met her, interacted with her before narration and while my writer was narrating I was looking at her thinking how she would look in the role. I felt she had the body language, the persona and I could see she is Babli. Now, the only thing was that many wondered that she has done several films down South, she has an accent…how will she be able to play a Haryanvi character. So, I got her to do a diction class (to play the role). I just asked her to get the accent right and assured her we will definitely get the best performance (out of her).” And that is how Tamannaah finally got on board.

Madhur went on to praise Tamannaah and said that she was able to portray varied emotions perfectly while adding that some of the actress’s best closeup shots are in Babli Bouncer.

While still speaking about Tamannaah’s Haryanvi character who is a bodybuilder and gets the job of a female bouncer, when we asked Madhur if comparisons were made between Anushka Sharma, Fatima Sana Sheikh and Sanya Malhotra who also essayed the roles of Haryanvi wrestler girls in Sultan and Dangal, respectively, how would he react, Madhur Bhandarkar said, “This is not a story about a wrestler, it has nothing to do with that world, so there won’t be any comparisons. Yes, in the film we do have elements in which she (Tamannaah) is doing boxing, she is riding a bullet bike etc, but one can’t say that the film is fully about the wrestlers’ world. It is just that people from this village are hired as bouncers in the Delhi area where there are pubs. So, I just felt the World was very fascinating.”

Moving further into the conversation, when we asked Madhur Bhandarkar why did he not release the film in theatres he said, “This movie was originally made as an OTT film.” While mentioning that he is overwhelmed with the response to the trailer and the innumerable queries on why the film isn’t releasing in the theatres, Madhur Bhandarkar concluded by saying that Disney+Hotstar wanted Babli Bouncer as an original film for the streaming platform and so it had to be this way.

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