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Madhur speaks on <i>Traffic Signal</i>

Apparently Traffic Signal (TS) has opened poorly overseas.
Yes, it's a little weak. But TS isn't targeted at the overseas market. There're no stars in the film. Rest everywhere it's doing very well.

It takes audacity to make a de-glam product in this day and age.
Yes and I shot in real sunlight. Bahut himmat ki zaroorat hai. TS came in face of films with a heavy gloss. I'm proud to do a slice-of-life work. But if you see my career from Chandni Bar to TS, I've always explored various less glamorous aspects of life. I'm not a commercial filmmaker at all. My films don't make 100 crores at the box office. I keep experimenting with various aspects of life. And I deserve credit at least for moving away from the clichÉs of our cinema.

Your films also require financial audacity.
I never had a problem getting producers once Chandni Bar was released. Whether it's Satta or Corporate, I never had to struggle for a producer. None of my films ever lost money. Everyone earns money.

You're accused of selling grass roots to the audience.
But Page 3 and Corporate were about the elite class. That was a deliberate attempt to move away from the grass-root image.

But there's a fixed formula to your cinema-clutching at a large gathering of characters, capturing them with their pants down within their given socio-political sphere.
Agreed. But at least grant me the credit for exploring different themes and characters. At least I'm original. I've received at least 400 SMS since TS released. People are praising me for having the guts to make a film without stars, rustic and very real. I don't even have a hit song in the film. Still I'm happy by the response.

The reviews have been pretty mixed.
But that's the story of my career! The reviewers didn't even spare my Chandni Bar. They said it was bleak and pessimistic. Page 3, they said was like an ongoing party. For Corporate they said it was filled with trade jargon.

Strange considering how far you've taken mainstream cinema.
Whatever I've achieved has been on my own. I had no godfathers or patron-saints in the film industry. I know there's hostility towards me.

There're many other directors from the outside for whom there's no hostility.
I don't know why it's there. But I know there's hostility towards me. I'm treated like an orphan in the film industry. But at the end of the day I'm happy because my producers are making money and I get to make the films I want.

You're also victimized at the awards.
Initially I used to get upset about it. Now it's okay. I agree Chandni Bar and Page 3 got a raw deal at the popular awards. But both films got the National award. To me that's more precious.

You've got money and popularity...
Money, I haven't got. But I'm definitely happy by the recognition and the success of my films. When I look back I see this filmmaker who made a film called Trishakti. When I see my movies I feel I've really achieved a lot. One flop and I'd be back in the doldrums. I'm very happy doing what I'm doing. People say Madhur is an offbeat filmmaker. I don't mind that. I know how people respond to me at a shopping mall or on the streets. That's my biggest reward and award. Beyond that I'm not a filmy person. I'm into my own world and my own cinema. I've very few friends in the industry. I haven't worked with big stars.

But you've worked with Tabu and Raveena Tandon.
Yeah, but I was accused of making woman-oriented films. There's always a sense of discrimination against me. If I've a subject for Hrithik or Abhishek I'd definitely work with male stars. In fact TS is my first film with a male protagonist. I'm happy Kunal Khemu has been appreciated. People now know that Madhur can make a male-oriented films.

Your casting is impeccable.
See, once I read the script I cast according to characters. In TS I've cast real eunuchs and beggars. I've even cast people from my unit. And the two insurance agents who get beaten up by Sudhir Mishra are played by Joe Rajan who's a travel agency owner and G.K Desai, a producer of English movies. They also acted as party crashers in Page 3. Hence the dialogue for them in TS, "Arrey yaar, we earlier used to splurge on free drinks at Page 3 parties. Now we're insurance agents.'

People missed that in- house joke.
Yeah Page 3 came two years ago.

I found Sudhir Mishra wooden.
I wanted him to deadpan throughout the film. I wanted him to be himself on screen. I think he's commendable.

Some portions in TS have been found to be vulgar.
You mean the pervert who touches up the beggar? I've done research and know such things happen. Reality, they say, bites. People can't take the harsh reality. We had to tone down the sexual content for the censors and audience. Well-to do perverts on cars do happen at traffic signals. 

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