Anubhav Sinha was, in his own words, “chilling in the hills” when the National film awards were announced earlier this week. Nitesh Tiwari’s Chhichhore beat Sinha’s far-superior Article 15 for the best Hindi film award. And now at Filmfare, Anubhav Sinha’s Thappad wins best film. But not director. How does that work?
Anubhav is not brooding over that. He says, “The Filmfare awards for Thappad mean so much to me. It is not a mainstream film in the strict sense of the term and it still did so well at the box office which was heartening enough. And now all these filmfare awards in the Popular category and not in the ‘Critics Choice’. Awesome. We made the film we completely believed in and these 360 degree rewards couldn’t feel better.”
Just who is Anubhav Sinha? There is an Anubhav Sinha, who directed lightweight confectionery like Tum Bin and Dus. He existed from 2001 to 2016, when he made his final fluff, Tum Bin 2.
Then something happened. Anubhav Sinha transformed into a completely different film-maker, a socio-politically relevant film-maker, who would probably laugh at the bloke who directed Cash and Ra.One.
When this new avatar showed up in the 2018 film Mulk Anubhav seemed as stunned as we were. "I don't know what happened to me. I just felt the need to change. And I did. It was clear to me that I couldn't continue living with the director who made Tum Bin and Aapko Pehle Bhi Kahin Dekha Hai".
Mulk was followed by Article 15 in 2019. It was easily the most thought-provoking and illuminating film of the year. With Thappad, Anubhav proves himself the finest contemporary film-maker of India cinema. The relevance of the storytelling and the control of the craft is a marvel of Nature, to be experienced rather than spoken about. In these troubled times of gagged creativity, Anubhav Sinha's cinematic voice must be heard loud and clear.
This is a man who converts the currency of politics into a timeless poetry. What Taapsee and Anubhav have done together in Thappad proves them to be the most significant actor-director pair in Indian cinema since Amitabh Bachchan and R Bakli.
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