Madhur Bhandarkar: Watching cinema taught me everything I know about cinema and life

Even before Madhur Bhandarkar became a filmmaker, he had begun to consume cinema. As a youngster, he worked at a video library which had amassed films from all over the world. He would deliver the cassettes to different people by order. That was the filmmaker’s first ever lesson in cinema – as an aside in this job, he consumed a lot of world cinema and films from Bollywood and Hollywood which inspired his thought process when he decided to become a filmmaker.

On the eve of Teachers’ Day, Madhur recalled the lessons cinema has taught him so far. He said, “I have been a film buff for most part of my life. I have been to more cinema halls than to classrooms in my growing-up years. I was a delivery boy at a video cassette library. That was my first learning turf. I watched movies there and eventually realised that they had actually taught me just about everything I know about cinema. They are my true teachers because I have never stepped into a filmmaking institute or something formal. It’s the work of some of the most phenomenal filmmakers which has given me perspective. Guru Dutt, Satyajit Ray, Vijay Anand, Mrinal Sen…the list is long and somewhat endless. These people’s works made me think about cinema in a different manner. I learnt to appreciate everything from realist to escapist cinema. Today, I dream, live and breathe cinema. Even during the lockdown, I have made it a point to consume as much cinema from around the world as possible because this is one education that has no end to it. It’s ever-evolving. Apart from being my bread and butter, it’s my way of life. Everyone faces situations in life. Hindi film music has acted as a balm for me. The songs have always offered me an answer to my questions. There is not one day when I don’t listen to a song by Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle. I was very young when I had heard the song, ‘Ek chehre pe kai chehre laga lete hain log.’ That song somehow stayed with me. I was a young guy then, and it made me see the world in a different light. I included a song in Page 3, Kitne ajeeb rishte hain yahan ke. That was my ode to a song that gave me perspective in life.”