How do you make a movie about the dark underbelly of the Mumbai film industry without touching upon the prickly issue of the casting couch? Especially if you’re Madhur Bhandarkar, and especially if you’ve been fighting allegations of rape levelled against you by a struggling starlet who claims you exploited her by promising her a film role in return?
Bhandarkar, whose Heroine would have released by the time you read this, isn’t above creating thinly disguised characters out of real people, and has seldom thought twice before recreating controversial incidents from famous people’s lives in his movies. For his expose on the Hindi film industry, he admits he’s once again tapped the private lives of real stars from both Bollywood and Hollywood.
The story goes that Preity Zinta is upset with him for a dig he’s reportedly taken at her in one of the film’s dialogues, in which leading lady Kareena Kapoor remarks that actresses buy IPL teams when their movie careers go downhill. Some months ago, Manisha Koirala was also apparently livid when she learnt that Bhandarkar had been insinuating that he’d based the character of a debauched superstar on her.
Perhaps anticipating all the angry responses from those who’re likely to recognise themselves or facets of their personalities in his characters, Bhandarkar is believed to have included his own controversial rape case in the film’s script. An insider reveals that the filmmaker has shown how a “desperate woman will go to any length to pull down a successful man, including framing him for assault or rape”. So while he may have sportingly exploited his own life for the screen, Bhandarkar has cleverly portrayed himself as a victim, not perpetrator.