Monthly Archives

September 2020

Doosra Aadmi/ The other man – Day 1874

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Raj Kapoor once said that every film has its destiny, and it is instinct that guides a film. Sometimes, though in the adrenaline rush, the creator disconnects with his instinct and follows a different path and in doing so, he alters his destiny, sometimes for the better and sometimes for worse.

During the shooting of Kabhi Kabhie in Kashmir, Yash Chopra decided to launch his first assistant Ramesh Talwar as director and asked him to plan his debut film. Talwar had more or less finalized a subject when a dear friend narrated to him a story about the ‘other woman’ who unintentionally interrupts the love story of a young couple. The older woman is attracted to the younger man because he resembles her deceased boyfriend who died in a car crash.

Doosra Aadmi or the ‘other man’ censored in September 1977 was a story of heart aches and heart breaks. Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh are still newly married when another woman enters Kapoor’s life. Talwar had set his heart on casting Sharmila Tagore for the older woman role but when Raakhee learnt about this, she dressed up as the character/copywriter at an advertising agency and presented herself before Talwar.

To be concluded

Stringent contracts – day 1873

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The bigger challenge of course is the poor economy, as a result fewer projects, in moderate budgets and smaller crews will be the new normal. Everyone will have to accept pay cuts and that includes letting go off the star entourage – no personal spot boys and fewer assistants for the technical crew. No shooting outside India, rather outside Maharashtra for the time being unless it is a location one can travel by road.
 
The star contracts will be even more stringent now, besides the confidentiality clause where actors are forbidden to discuss the subject, forbidden guests on shooting premise, forbidden selfies/pictures on sets, to which some filmmakers have added a ban on cosmetic surgeries because they don’t want the hero/ heroine to appear different in the middle of a schedule, will probably include a clause on consumption of drugs, a repercussion of the ongoing Sushant Singh Rajput controversy.
 
If Ekta Kapoor can ask for horoscope of her actors before confirming them for the show, the legal team is entitled to think out of the box for the filmmakers.
To be continued

Collaborative medium – day 1872

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Unlike other professions that can be indulged in ‘Work from Home’ cinema being a collaborative medium cannot. It involves multiple artistes on multiple levels for instance, an actor needs make-up, hair, costume. The camera man needs his light men and the director needs his assistants and everyone requires to be in close proximity.
 
Despite the enormous challenges, some film and television production houses have begun shoot with requisite precautions of thermometers, sanitizers and a doctor on the set. Recently actor Satish Kaushik posted a picture of him getting ready where the team is in PPE suits and shields and another actor tweeted about how writers are conceiving intimate scenes without actors physically touching each other. A television actress explained to me that the present scenario is harder on the heroine than the hero because “By the time I walk from the vanity van to the set covered in my mask and shield, my makeup and hair is in total mess!”
 
To be continued

Commercials take over creative – day 1871

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Over the decades, the work culture changed drastically and so did the film budgets. Chopra joked that what was the budget of his earlier films was now, the budget of just the costumes designed by Manish Malhotra. “Then I whispered a figure into the actor’s ear and the deal was confirmed today, star managers discuss commercials with finance teams and subjects are approved only after that”.
 
Soon contracts became an essential foundation for all studios and production houses and all of them invested in top legal teams to avoid complications. In the year 2020 two determining events have occurred, the pandemic and the unnatural demise of Sushant Singh Rajput that has altered the perception and the reality of the business of entertainment forever.  
 
If the new normal of our daily existence is to wear our masks, frequently wash hands and maintain social distance, the new normal in the film world is set to usher a revolution.
 
To be continued

Trust and relationships – Day 1870

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Before Yash Raj Films turned corporate and shifted office to the high tech, sprawling studio in Andheri, filmmaker Yash Chopra operated from a relatively smaller office but still a bungalow in Mumbai’s posh location, Juhu.

There was a small lobby on the ground floor and a lift that traveled you to the first floor where Yash Chopra occupied one half of the office and the other half was divided into smaller cabins for the administrative staff.

I often dropped by to meet Yash Chopra and he relegated me with delicious stories of his struggle, his directorial debut, his first premier and later, his first independent make-shift office at V Shantaram’s Raj Kamal Studio in Parel. He said, in the olden days, they made films as a family, cast actors he enjoyed working with and after checking dates a mahurat was announced and the film was completed before the end of the year.

Chopra revealed that there were no written contracts with anyone and yet everyone stayed committed, “We relied on trust, relationships and nobody ever complained”.

To be continued

Shraadh and cinema – day 1869

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Two days ago marked the end of Chaturmaas and the beginning of Shraadh where we offer prayers for our departed ancestors.

Once upon a time in the seventies and the eighties, the film industry came to a standstill during the shraadh period.

There were no announcement of any new films, no mahurats, no celebrations, no advertisements, posters, trailers snd definetly no releases were scheduled during this allegedly ‘inauspicious’ month.

In fact, I clearly remember many cinema halls screening old hits for four weeks till the shraadh month was over and nobody complained, on tge contrary enjoyed the old hits screened at lower ticket rates.

I think it was after the multiplexes emerged in the nineties that the smaller films forever struggling for theatres said to hell with superstition and grabbed the dates that top banners rejected during this period.

Come 2000 and the new generation left no choice for the shraadh crow to but fly up in the sky snd disappear in the horizon.

Hema- Dharam dream pair – Day 1868

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This was the phase when the lead pair Dharmendra and Hema Malini were individually and collectively raining hits.

Jugnu was their sixth consecutive hit heralding them as the undisputed star pair of that time.

The audience loved watching the pair together and the filmmakers loved casting them.

They did four films with Promod Chakraboty (Naya Zamana, Jugnu, Dream Girl, Azad) and three films with Dulal Guha (Dost, Pratigya, Dil Ka Hira) and so many more films with so many more filmmakers.

Grapevine has it that the romance between the pair blossomed during the outdoor location of the film and by the time the unit was back in Bombay, the fragrance was all over.

In my biography on Hema Malini, when questioned about it, Hema shies from elaborating on the subject but admits that shooting Jugnu and all films with Dharamji was special!

Shailendra and Shankar Jaikishan – Day 1867

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There’s an interesting story about the lyricist associated with composers Shankar Jaikishan.
The composers had apparently promised the poet a film and conveniently forgot about it.
So the proud lyricist sent them a sarcastic note ‘Chhoti si ye duniya, pehchaane raaste hain’.
Shankar Jsikishan got the message and quickly recommended him for Rangoli/ 1962 even though it was promised to another lyricist.

Shailendra suffered a tragic end but I will not dwell on it on his birth anniversary, instead I’ll focus on a blockbuster that released on this very day- 30 August in the year 1973.

Pramod Charavorty’s Jugnu which proved the second highest-grossing film of the year.

Shailendra joins RK – Day 1866

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Shailendra knocked on Raj Kapoor’s studio door when his wife was pregnant with their first child and they needed stability.

Raj Kapoor was filming Barsaat at that time and two songs still had to be written and recorded.

Kapoor paid Shailendra Rs 500 and he wrote ‘Patli kamar hai’ and the immortal ‘Barsaat mein’ both composed by Shankar-Jaikishan.

It was the beginning of a long and a fruitful association that lasted many years, about 21 films and a variety of songs that included the playful Anari, poignant Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai, sensitive Sangam and classic Mera Naam Joker.

Shailendra worked with other filmmakers/ composers as well. There was Sali Chowdahry, SDBurman, Ravi Shankar and everyone was familiar with his volatile temperament.

The Anand Brothers had originally signed poet Hasrat Jaipuri as lyricist for their film Guide but later, went to Shailendra.

Shailendra was upset that he was not their first choice and to make his displeasure apparent, hiked his fees and made Anand Bros pay double.

They agreed to his demand and Guide proved a super hit at the box-office.