Babli Bouncer director Madhur Bhandarkar reacts to North vs South debate, says ‘for me Shah Rukh Khan and Ram Charan…’

Madhur Bhandarkar directed Babli Bouncer was released on Disney+Hotstar today (September 23). Starring Tamannaah Bhatia in the lead role, the film revolves around the story of the protagonist who breaks the glass ceiling to become a female bouncer in a World that is dominated by males. While the film has received mixed reviews, Tamannaah’s earnest performance as Babli Bouncer has won many hearts.

Days ahead of the film’s release, we at DNA, spoke to the National Award-winning director, Madhur Bhandarkar, and asked him about his decision to cast a leading lady from the South film industry in Babli Bouncer and also asked for his opinion of the North vs South debate. Speaking about the latter, Madhur Bhandarkar told DNA, “Honestly, I don’t look into this at all. For me, it’s a film, it is Indian cinema. I used to deliver video cassettes and I have watched all kinds of films Hindi, Marathi, and South. I never differentiated.”

He added, “There was a time when such as Bombay, Roja, Hindustani, Pushpak, Appu Raja, these were all South Indian films which did well at the box office. So, we never look at it from his perspective that it is a South Indian film. The language may be different, but for me, it is an Indian film. For me, everybody is a big star. For me, Shah Rukh Khan and Ram Charan, both are big stars. And in today’s time when there is OTT, we are all watching all kinds of cinema including Tamil, and Malayalam. I’ve always said ‘art has no boundaries, especially films’.”

On how Tamannaah came on board the film, Madhur averred, “When I narrated the script to Disney+Hotstar, they liked the idea as an original OTT film. 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.

A four-time National Awar winner and a Padma Shri recipient, Madhur Bhandarkar is best known for his films such as Chandni Bar, Page 3, Traffic Signal, Fashion, and Heroine, among others. His last outing Indu Sarkar was critically acclaimed. On the work front, he has several projects lined up which will be announced in due course of time.

Originally published at

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