You would think that the threats and bullying for his new film Mulk would daunt Anubhav Sinha who has made romantic films all his life.
Suddenly the romantic is facing the flak. “Just because Mulk addresses some uncomfortable home-truths trollers are having a field day. They accuse the film of being funded by Dawood, That’s the easiest way to malign any Hindi film.I am not getting affected by such nonsense.”
But Anubhav is not the least intimidated. “I come from Varanasi. Abuses , profanities and threats don’t bother me. I am 6-foot guy. I can take care of myself. But my friends are worried. The minute the trailer of Mulk came out I started getting concerned calls from friends from abroad and in India. Many of these concerned callers were Muslims. ‘Look after yourself,’ they said. That worried me.”
Anubhav wonders what he has done that should be cause for concern. “The isolation of the Indian Muslim due to some terror acts is an issue that should bother all of us. I grew up in Varanasi where there would be a communal riot every other week. Then I moved to Aligarh where the Muslims made me feel completely at home. They never made me feel different from them.So when did this business of ‘them’ and ‘us’ start?”
Anubhav has steered away from politics all his life. “I’ve never made a film about politics. Mulk is my first political film because this is a subject that I had to address. Although it’s a political film there is not a single politician in my film. My point is, who precipitates this awful violence against an 80-year old man who is not guilty of the crime he is accused of? Even if he was, would we do this to an old man in normal times?”
Though volatile in theme, Mulk got the actors Anubhav wanted. “I went to Rishi Kpaoor with much dread wondering if not him, then who? But he heard my narration and immediately agreed to be in the film. Rajat Kapoor was one of the last actors to come on board. When he heard what the film was about he agreed to do any part I wanted him to.”
Mulk has just been cleared by the censor board with a ‘UA’ certificate.
Anubhav is delighted. “After the film was passed with only a few minor cuts I sent a thankyou message to all the members of the censorboard.I don’t think too many filmmakers do that. I went to the censor board thinking there would be trouble, considering the theme. I even thought of consulting Anurag Kashyap who has faced censor troubles repeatedly. Finally though, I had no trouble with the censor board at all.I want to thank them for getting the point. Mulk is a film that needed to be made. We can no longer sweep the isolation of the Indian Muslim community under the carpet.”
Anubhav says he wants to reclaim that part of Hindutva which has been hijacked by fringe elements. “I greet my friends with a ‘Jai SriRam’ and they look at me as if to say, ‘Et tu, Brute?’ But I want the fringe groups to know , ‘You don’t represent me’.Jai Sri Ram doesn’t belong to you.”