Anubhav Sinha: Spread love because nothing changes for better with hate

Rana Siddiqui Zaman was in conversation with Anubhav Sinha about his women characters, art and politics and his idea of love and romance

Anubhav Sinha: Spread love because nothing changes for better with hate

Rana Siddiqui Zaman

Director Anubhav Sinha has no answer as to why he made a film like ‘Thappad’ which released this Friday. The key message of the film is that love and respect go hand in hand. He has no answer to how he made a film on religious and human harmony like ‘Mulk’ in which he said things that many of his contemporaries have not. He can’t explain why he focussed on the caste issue with respect to people, police and politics when he made ‘Article 15’. Welcome to the world of Anubhav Sinha, an engineer by training and a humanist by heart. Rana Siddiqui Zaman was in conversation with the man about his women characters, art and politics and his idea of love and romance.

If you speak to him, he will not be able to give you any gyan, those quotable quotes or sound bites. He would always have one answer on each question of ‘how did you do it’? “I didn’t design it. I did what organically came from within,” will be the one-liner.

And you come back thinking, such innocence at this age? And you understand then - this is the key with which he thinks and looks at the world - a child waiting to get everything corrected, repaired with love, sorted with maturity so that everyone could live happily ever after! So, he keeps on understanding, un-judging, loving and spreading it. He says it simply in films through simple dialogues and songs and wins millions of hearts.

Sinha coyly laughs at the compliment as he speaks on Thappad. I still ask him about how he could think like a woman.

“I heard this for the first time from my distributor who said to me, ‘It feels like a woman has directed it (Thappad).’ It surprised me. I have kept on thinking about all my relatives, my sister, mother, friends. I feel I must have heard them very carefully at one point in time and it made good space somewhere in my heart. I feel for them. My upbringing must have been good and both my parents were sensible. I may have learnt about good relationships by observing them. I keep on saying that this film is not about domestic violence; it is rather about relationships. From both partners’ perspectives, there is something wrong creeping into a relationship and that has to be sorted. And both need to work on it.”

It is important to note that it is women who carry strong messages in his films, be in Thappad, Mulk or Tum Bin. “I always felt women are more honest, convincing and efficient carriers,” he asserts.

Even Sinha’s idea of romance in all his films is neither crude nor showy. It is subtle and warm. It reflects in respect that a man shows a woman and treats her with grace and elegance. I try to understand the psyche behind it.

He himself has no clear idea. He simply says, “I feel we are equals (man and woman). I don’t see women as toys. The popular films I grew up on had no romance as such. Popular Hindi film main romance nahi hota. I have grown up seeing Amitabh Bachchan’s earlier films in which his expressions with women are restricted. I have grown up on films in which Jeetendra and Dharmendra would indulge in certain kinds of romance that I could not relate to. But I recall, in my growing-up years, I saw some Pakistani shows such as Ankahi and Tanhaiyyan which affected me deeply. The writer writes so beautifully about relationships. The love in them has a veil and naughtiness too. Main mureed hoon aisi soch ka (I admire this kind of thinking).”

So, how does he see his growth as a director over the years?

It is imperative to note that the films that he has both written and directed have been far more sensible and had more depth than those he co-wrote with someone (example Ra-One). Sinha has a simple answer to this: ”A film should always have a director’s hallmark on it.” The films that he has written and directed were in his control. With years, “I am now a more responsible and aware director and I now read more and feel more. My work perhaps reflects my studies and my awareness. I am now educated to the fact that through my work I can say some necessary things and it affects people. The message reaches. I realised that after Mulk,” he says.

But then what is the relationship between art and politics?

Sinha feels it is more about “artists in politics”. “There is also politics when some artists feel that there should be no politics in art. Art has to have politics in it. There should be art in politics too. Art main politics hoti hi hai. In fact, art comes from politics. For instance, Thappad has gender politics. Article 15 has social politics. But we should not confuse this with electoral politics,” he feels.

Sinha has been protesting against CAA/NRC/NPR and violence perpetrated against students. Yet, he feels he is not affected by it. Because “I saw it coming. I know it’s just the beginning. It will only increase. Worst is yet to come. Our society has to be ready for some sacrifices. It still has to undergo more pain,” he says.

For him, there is no solution to such crisis except love. “Pyar karo, jaise pehle karte they. Kyunki nafrat se to kuch aage badh nahi raha. As soon as the nation understands that it’s only love that will take the society forward, things will start changing. Love is infectious, badi jaldi phail jata hai ye”.

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