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Vishal Bhardwaj: I had to forgo my fees to shoot Maqbool in Bhopal | Exclusive

Updated on: 16 December,2023 08:52 AM IST  |  Mumbai
mid-day online correspondent |

Sit With Hitlist: Vishal Bhardwaj narrates how he let go of his fees to shoot Maqbool in Bhopal, in a haveli of his liking

Vishal Bhardwaj

Key Highlights

  1. Vishal Bhardwaj has often paid from his own pocket to make films the way he wanted
  2. He shut himself up for two days when Maqbool`s producer refused to shoot in Bhopal
  3. Bhardwaj invested his own fees for Rs 30 lakhs to make the shoot happen

Vishal Bhardwaj won immense critical acclaim early on in his career, with the 2003 film Maqbool. The film is based on William Shakespeare's Macbeth, with the Mumbai underworld as its backdrop. The film did not perform remarkably at the box office, but won director Vishal Bhardwaj international recognition.

In Mid-day's latest Sit With Hitlist episode, Bhardwaj revealed that he had to forgo his fees to make the film. There were budget constraints and the filmmaker invested his remuneration in order to make the film the way that he wanted to.

The filmmaker said that he can be adamant about the way he wants things done on set and is ready to give up his money to get it. "Even for smallest things, that I have been doing all my life, all my career, I give my fees to anything. Ki okay, if you can’t provide me this, take money from me. If you can’t give me this, take money from me but I am going to do this way. Which, of course, has paid me more than I have invested in. Maqbool had a scene where everyone is playing carrom and Abbaji is upstairs with Nimi. Piyush’s character comes and says Abbaji kaha hai... Irrfan's character… 

"Production brought in a small carrom board. They said isika budget hai. Toh I took out Rs 200 and said bring a bigger board or I will not shoot... There are many incidents like this," Bhardwaj narrated.

The filmmaker also revealed how he managed to shoot for the film in Bhopal, in a proper haveli, instead of a makeshift one in Mumbai where every other film was shot. "The haveli of Abbaji was in Bhopal. I was very keen to shoot there, because the underworld we show in Maqbool didn't exist in real life at that time. Underworld terrorism ke taraf chala jaa chuka tha, it was an old-world charm. I wanted a haveli with a courtyard, it should feel like a small palace of theirs. And I could find that only in Bhopal. Here in Film City there was a Censor Board office which would double up as a haveli for shoots in every other film. Bobby Bedi was our producer, he finalised that we'd shoot in Bhopal for 2 days. One day, out of the blue, he said, we don’t have the budget to go to Bhopal, you shoot here in Film Division's office.

"Uska naam tha Film Division ki Haveli. Maine bola main nahi karunga. Usne bola main film nahi banaunga. Maine kaha mat banao. It was 15 days before shooting was to begin. I shut myself and my phone for two days, did not talk to anyone. After two days Bobby Bedi came to meet me, he wanted to talk. My fees for the film was Rs 30 lakh, for music, direction, writing, everything. So he said, shooting in Bhopal will cost Rs 60 lakh extra. You invest half. I said, meri fees chahiye, le lo ismein. So, then I was not paid a single penny in that film. Till today I have not got a single penny even being a producer," Bhardwaj said.

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