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!