Anubhav Sinha’s Drastic Change: How the Filmmaker Went from Making Ra.One to Thappad
Anubhav Sinha had made fluff films in the past but in the last three years has reinvented himself as a hard-hitting filmmaker making relevant films
Who is Anubhav Sinha? There is this Anubhav Sinha whom I knew when he directed lightweight confectionery like Tum Bin and Dus. This Anubhav Sinha existed from 2001 to 2016 when he made his final fluff flick Tum Bin 2. Then something happened. Something that is not explicable by human definitions of progression and change. Anubhav Sinha transformed into a completely different, antithetical filmmaker, a socio-politically relevant filmmaker who would probably laugh at the bloke who directed Cash and Ra.One. When this new avatar showed up in Mulk in 2018, Anubhav seemed as stunned as we were. Who was this man? Anubhav kept asking himself. And where was he hiding himself all these years?
It’s not easy to come to terms with a metamorphosis as radical as the director of Tum Bin underwent when he made Mulk. Speaking about the change Anubhav says, “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. I either had to pull put or change.”
Luckily for us, Anuhav went for change, a departure so drastic that it left us stunned. Mulk in 2018 was followed by Article 15 in 2019. Easily the most thought-provoking and illuminating film of the year, Article 15 showed Anubhav at the acme of his art, exploring the Indian caste system with a fidelity and frugality that did away with the nonsensical trappings of a palatable Hindi film. There were no songs in Article 15. Article 15’s protagonist Ayushmann Khurrana told me they meant to have a couple of songs in the background but decided to scrap them for the sake of authenticity. There was only Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ In TheWind. Bob in Bollywood? Only Anubhav Sinha could achieve this cultural spiritual and emotional synthesis of potboiler and blood-boiler.
Taapsee Pannu with film director Anubhav Sinha
With Thappad, his third feature film since his rebirth (I am afraid there is no other way to put it but by explaining the change as a reincarnation) Anubhav proves himself the finest contemporary filmmaker of Indian 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 Sinha have done together in Thappad proves them to be a very significant actor-director pair in Indian cinema.
What next, Anubhav? “Oh, I already know what I am doing next. I can’t afford pauses between films. I’ve 12 years of filmmaking to catch up with. I feel my career started with Mulk. What I did before that is a blur. No, I am not disowning my earlier films. But I have no right to own them. I was not making them from my heart.”