In the first five months of 2023, Anubhav Sinha managed to release as many as three films in theaters. Faraaz, directed by Hansal Mehta, was the first release. This was followed by his adventure as a director, carefulbased on the sufferings of migrants in confinement. Afwaah, directed by Sudhir Mishra, was released recently. These movies didn’t click at the box office but garnered massive praise from most moviegoers and critics. Anubhav Sinha was relaxed as he spoke exclusively to bollywood hungama about these movies, being one of the few brave voices in the industry, and much more.
EXPLOSIVE: Anubhav Sinha THUNDER: “Bheed and Afwaah’s censorship experience hasn’t been very good. It was almost UNFAIR. The only option to seek justice is to go to court. But that is a costly and slow process.”
Your movie, Afwaah, directed by Sudhir Mishra, was released on May 5. Interestingly, I have not come across a single person who did not like the film. It got a unanimous positive response…
It’s beautiful to know I wish more people had gone to the theaters to see it. But people don’t go to the movies. To do?
You feel AfwaahWas the theatrical release too limited?
Yes, it was less than it ideally should have been. But releasing a movie has become so expensive that it’s a discussion for another day. So yeah, it wasn’t as many shows and as many screens as I would have liked. I guess every movie has its economy.
Also, it’s not like the shows were packed on the first day of release. If there was an encouraging response from people on launch day, increasing the number of programs would have been a phone call away. Unlike the good old days when we had to send physical prints, now it’s easier. Sadly, the theatrical response, whether for Afwaah either carefulit was not so encouraging that the shows could be increased from Saturday.
I guess it takes time for the word to spread…
That’s not practical. If a movie is running three shows on a Friday and if those movies aren’t doing well, the exhibitor doesn’t even ask you. It will just reduce the number of shows. It’s out of my control.
Faraaz It didn’t do well in theaters either, but it got new life on Netflix. Do you think the same would happen with careful and Afwaah?
I hope so, fingers crossed. there was so much talk around careful. It received fantastic reviews and responses from those who watched it. So, I hope it has an audience (on OTT).
After the pandemic, do you feel that the box office scenario has changed? Thappad (2020) was released just before lockdown and grossed Rs. 30 crores, despite the conventional theme. You feel careful and Afwaah Would it have done better at the box office before 2020?
I don’t know. I keep asking other people these days, ‘If we launch Article 15 (2019) now, will it work like it did in 2019? Nobody has the answer. Nobody knows what’s going on!
2 years ago, you said in an interview that the Censorship Board has been nice to you…
Though not lately!
I checked the cut list of both Afwaah and careful. Afwaah suffered countless cuts. As for Bheed, his cut list was shocking. Words like ‘Tablighi Jamaat’, ‘Corona Jihad’ etc. were removed, even though they were important to the film’s narrative. Your thoughts?
The Censor’s Experience careful and Afwaah it hasn’t been great. It was almost unfair.
And now you can’t even go to the FCAT (Film Certification Appeal Court), also known as the court…
…Because there is no court. The biggest tragedy behind the removal of the court is that now the only option to seek justice is to go to court. But going to court is very expensive and time consuming. You have no control over when the hearing will take place or when the decision will be given. Even Faraaz he went through his own journey of court cases. We never use it to advertise our film. And it was terribly expensive.
Was Afwaah delayed due to censorship process? It was supposed to be released in March…
Yeah. Afwaah and careful We were almost together at the CBFC. We had to finish one battle first and then move on to the other.
Do these experiences stress you out? In the future, will you still make the movie you want to make?
Oh yeah. I’ve been like this for 9 years!
It is said that there is a lot of emphasis on the box office. If a movie doesn’t work, you don’t earn respect…
I do not agree. On the contrary, a little later in time, it ceases to matter absolutely ki film at the box office pe kitna kiya tha. Uske bad movie ki izzat zinda rehti Hello. Do you know how much my first film costs? Paper bin (2001) picked up? It ran in theaters for only one week.
Maybe that was a different time. I’m talking about the current scenario…
No. During those days, movies were 15 to 20 weeks long. There were no theaters for us. Also, sholay (1975) did not do well in the first week. But those were the days when exhibitors clung to film. They would wait for the audience to get an idea of what the movie is. Today, it is very instant. If the 6 o’clock show doesn’t work, the theater might cancel the 9 o’clock show. For this reason, the exhibition sector has to reinvent itself. We’ve already said enough about the kinds of movies that are being made. But we haven’t talked about the exhibition, the cost of releasing a film, the method of exhibition and some kind of monopoly in the exhibition sector.
Recently, there were reports of challenges in the exhibition sector and PVR and Inox closed around 50 cinemas…
Yes. The fair sector will have to work with the productive sector. We can’t not hold hands. We’ll have to shake hands.
Know mulk (2018) didn’t do very well at the box office? He did almost fine. But in the life of a movie, the box office is the tiniest factor that people remember. People would remember a movie for its dialogue rather than the box office. I’ve seen people say, ‘Yaar, WHO movie mein kya dialogue that either ‘Wow movie mein kya gaana tha’ and not ‘Wow movie ka kya box office that! So a bit later in a movie’s life, the weekend is irrelevant. The important thing is how long people will continue to relate to that movie. That timelessness of an art is what matters.
I don’t know. I’m working on some stories. I’ve been so busy. i just launched Afwaah and now i’ll sit and find out
You have an anthology coming soon. Will it be released in theaters or on OTT?
Yes. It’s called Be positive. It will be out digitally. It was never intended to be a theatrical release.
When will it come out?
We are finding out.
Do you think that in the next few days it will be more difficult for filmmakers like you to have your own voice?
We’ll see. We’ll take it as it comes. Every time we go from one movie to another, these conversations come up. But then you can’t get ahead of a tragedy. You can only keep guessing and cross the bridge when we get there. Will I change my route to avoid the bridge? No. I’d cross that bridge and then we’ll see.
Also Read: Anubhav Sinha weighs in on Theater vs OTT debate; he says the audience “needs to explore new kinds of movies”
More Pages: Bheed Box Office Collection
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