Madhur Bhandarkar is back with his new film Traffic Signal. Expectations are high from the talented filmmaker after Page 3 and Corporate. Madhur in conversation with TWF correspondent Vickey Lalwani.
What is Traffic Signal about?
Traffic Signal depicts life on the streets of Mumbai through a traffic signal, where all kinds of people live, survive, jostle and yet remain human. A hard-hitting film that exposes the underbelly of Mumbai. In a day, scores of people go past multitudes of Traffic Signal's scattered all over the city. People sitting in their vehicles impatiently wait to get going. Though this waiting lasts but a few minutes it feels like a lifetime to them. However unknown to them there thrives an industry that derives its livelihood from these people waiting at the Traffic Signals.
How was Traffic Signal conceived?
The idea was first conceived when I was walking on a Tuesday to Siddhi Vinayak temple. I have always been a keen observer of what goes on the roads. As I was making Corporate, I thought here was a world in its own on the roads of Mumbai, and here is a chance for me to do something totally contrasting- but at the same I will again have a realistic film which is my forte.
Did you shoot mainly in Mumbai?
No. It was not possible to shoot too much here. Taking permission to shoot on Mumbai's roads was not easy. We shot more in Nitin Desai's studio in Karjat. We erected half a kilometer set. It took a month to erect that set which would recreate the signal feel. We had a salon, Irani cafÉ and the main signal which was put between four roads. We called that junction as Kelkar Marg. We took some real shots also to match the set, and merged them together in the film. We stayed there for 35 days. I shuttled once or twice, since Renu (wife) was five months pregnant that time. She also came there once or twice.
We took some BEST buses from here. And, we took some beggars and eunuchs. Surprisingly, the beggars and eunuchs knew who I was. They had seen some of my films. The eunuchs initially thought that I had called them to dance on some occasion. Believe me, I didn't need more than one retake with the beggars and eunuchs. I settled them down for a day or two, keeping them in the backdrop of some of the scenes. I did not give them any workshop or any lines to learn and just told them to observe. When it came to action, they were spot on. That simply speaks for their excitement and involvement. Of course, I paid them. How can you have a film on Signal without beggars and eunuchs? There are some guys who are not beggars but have acted as beggars. Some of my friends came on the set and gave them some money. They thought that they were real beggars.