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Director Anubhav Sinha: His experiments with truth

Unfazed by detractors, Anubhav Sinha plans to continue making and producing thought-provoking films such as Bheed and Afwaah Circa 2019. Director Anubhav Sinha had wrapped up Article 15. Some of his closest friends, including filmmakers Sudhir Mishra, Avinash Das, Subhash Kapoor and Anurag Kashyap, had watched the film at his home.   Recalls Sinha: “We were chatting, when Subhash asked, ‘Anubhav bhai, kya pi rahe ho aajkal (what are you drinking these days)? To which Kashyap responded, ‘Inse pooch, ab tak kya pi rahe the (ask him what he had been drinking up till now)?’” The Dev.D director made the remark knowing the kind of films Sinha was capable of, versus the ones he made until Mulk (2018). Since then, all his films––Article 15, Thappad, Anek and the recently released, Bheed—have been relevant, hard-hitting and issue-driven. Director Anubhav Sinha Sinha has extended his directorial sensibilities to his role as a producer as well. Among the latest projects he bankrolled are Sudhir Mishra’s Afwaah on the issue of fake news, and the 2022 Hansal Mehta-directorial, Faraaz, inspired by the 2016 terror attacks in a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh. For Sinha, it is a combination of two things that have to come together for him to produce a film. One, what the story is trying to convey; two, people who are telling it,” he says. Although, more often than not, it is the first criterion that takes precedence, he backed both Afwaah and Faraaz since he wanted to work with Mishra and Mehta. “The choice of the story was theirs and therefore, their responsibility, but in my mind, the plot was secondary,” he adds.   His filmography, however, was not always what it is today. With films such as Tum Bin, Dus, Cash and Ra. One under his belt, Sinha has been as mainstream as any Bollywood director can be. Self-admittedly, the director, who started out with thought-provoking television shows such as Shikast and Sea Hawks, got “drawn into the glitz, glamour and paraphernalia”. “At the time, the size of the film mattered to me more than what I wanted to say,” he recalls. The bittersweet reception of RaOne brought everything down to dust. “Everyone talks highly of RaOne today, but when it was released in 2011, I was crushed. I didn’t know if I was a director at all,” he says.  A poster of Afwaah It was the legal drama, Mulk––a story of a Muslim family in India, who fight to reclaim their honour after one of their members takes to terrorism––which was the turning point. It was a response to what he saw around him.  “I found my purpose as a director and the reason why I wanted to tell stories. Earlier it was a business and career,” he states. Over the years, Sinha has transformed into a filmmaker who is not afraid to speak his mind, making his work susceptible to objections from certain sections of society. Bheed, which talks about the lockdown-induced migrant crisis, is the latest victim, following the controversy over using Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s voiceover and likening the exodus to Partition. He has, however, learnt to take it all in his stride. “I am now used to certain people attacking my IMDB ratings. During Article 15, some wanted to chop my head off and others wanted to cut my nose. Each time a trailer drops, someone has a problem. I think even if I borrow a script from Rohit (Shetty), they will still get angry with me,” says Sinha. Ask him what he’d like to make now, and he says, “An action film or a musical. My films, of  late, are missing music. I used to enjoy the process,” he says wistfully. There are currently three projects he is exploring. “Out of these, two are thrillers, but I am yet to begin writing,” he says. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)