Monthly Archives

June 2021

Story of Joint Family – Day 2010

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I visited Anupam Kher on the first day of the shoot and was surprised to find him composed, he said, Yash Chopra always said that the best way to make a film is to enjoy the process and that’s what I’m doing. I am happy I have actors I enjoy spending time with and filmmaking is all about good vibrations”.

The actors were in great spirit and the scenes were getting okayed rather swiftly. From where we were seated, we watched Waheeda Rehman dry a wet towel on the balcony banister, chatting about a proposal for her older son/ Anil Kapoor to her younger son, Abhishek “He will like the girl, won’t he?” she asks Abhishek. “Of course, he will…” he reassures her.

Remembering Om Jai Jagdish – Day 2009

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Twenty years ago, around this week, released Om Jai Jagdish produced by Vashu Bhagnani and directed by Anupam Kher. The film was a game changer for almost everyone involved in the film. It marked Anupam’s debut as a director, Rahul Nanda, son of Gulshan Nanda as writer. Waheeda Rehman made a comeback after twelve years. Anil Kapoor who had so far always played the younger son, for the first time played the older brother. Abhishek Bachchan, Fardeen Khan were not in happy phases of their careers but this film brought them into notice.

A bungalow set was constructed in Mumbai for the first schedule of the film and before the actual shooting commenced, Kher invited the cast with their families for tea at this beautiful bungalow. It was a super idea to meet the unit and get acquainted with the ambiance.

Day Number Artistic to formula – Day 2008

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Over the years Vipul Shah was more active as a producer than a director and got identified with Commando series. For artistic satisfaction he indulged with smaller projects like Zindagi Ek Pal and Kuch Luv Jaisa and strangely did not miss direction, said, “As long as I’m making films I’m stimulated.”. Today, every director wants to write his own script, don’t you?  “No, because Aatish Kapadia is terrific at his work and when he hands me a dialogue sheet, he does not need to mention the scene number/ location/ character name, no instructions inside brackets he knows I will understand and execute it exactly the same way he has conceived it. That’s the level of our compatibility”. And wife Shefali? “Shefali understands the rhythm of my work and contributes in my creative process, she is not just a great actor but also a great mind”.

Shefali knows this and I will not be surprised if the next artistic film produced by the banner is directed by Shefali Shah, she is more than ready for it!

Working with Bachchan | Day 2007

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Shah says he was very clear that he didn’t want to make a romantic film because nobody did that better than Yash Chopra and therefore, chose drama – “I was looking for subjects but my mind kept going back to our play, Aavjo Wahla Phari Malisu and I decided to follow my heart once again. It was a simple story, the kind of films Hrishikesh Mukherjee made and my instinct proved right”

It was the first time you worked with your wife? “Yes, we did a film earlier but at that time we were not married and this time she was over critical of everything, as a result Amitabh Bachchan started addressing her as malkin and joked, ‘Director toh theek hi nay a unhe bhi badalna hai?’. Once in front of the camera however, no special treatment meted out to her. I ask the director how it felt watching his wife in the arms of Amitabh Bachchan? For the first time Vipul Shah blushed, “What can I say, even envy has limitations, I don’t think any husband would complain of such a privilege”.

To be concluded

Regional to mainstream | Day 2006

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Didn’t it worry you that working with only Gujarati team will brand you as vernacular? He smiles, “they say that about everyone who comes from regional theatre. The mainstream has always been superior about the regional but let me tell you that the regional content is always superior. They were skeptical of me because Aankhen was adapted from Gujarati play but it never bothered me. I’m proud of my roots and a time will come when the mainstream will be proud of us vernaculars”.

Shah’s tele-serial Ek Mahal Ho Sapnon Ka was amongst the first serials to complete 1000 episodes and in a way the beginning for Balaji’s Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi but Vipul Shah was more than generous in his praise for Ekta Kapoor, said “Kyunki…is India’s answer to Dynasty, that’s show business, it follows a cycle. So do filmmakers, I guess. Vipul Shah’s next film Waqt also was adapted from a Gujarati play, penned by friend and partner, Aatish Kapadia.

To be concluded

Theatre to cinema | Day 2005

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The film industry is full of artistes who started with theatre and filmmaker Vipul Amrutlal Shah is one of them. He began his career with Gujarati theater, moved on to Gujarati tele- serials, debuted as Gujarati film director of Dariya-Chhoru /Children of Ocean and finally made it into mainstream cinema. In the coming years, he established his banner with romantic comedies like Namstey London and Action Replay and in later years produced successful action thrillers like Holida and Force.

Come 08 June Vipul Shah turns 48 and I recall his early memories, “For most of us studying at Narsee Monje College in the western suburbs of Mumbai, Bhaidas Theatre was a dream destination. I joined Gujarati theatre when I was 19 and turned director with Aandhado Pato /Blindman’s Buff when I was 21. The play was written by Aatish Kapadiaand ever since we have collaborated creatively be it theatre, television or films, Gujarati or Hindi”.

To be concluded

MF Hussain & Madhuri Dixit – Day 2004

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You mean your current muse Madhuri Dixit? He shook his head “That is a perception, I paint her form not her face, for me there is no past, no future because it is today that combines our yesterdays and tomorrows and that’s what Gajgamini is all about.”  The film is a visual treat I tell him but too abstract to understand what is going on. “I made it with a motive to experience not understand. Life is an illusion and the poet a symbol of illusion. Kavi Kalidasa is the greatest creator of all times and Kamdeva the divine lover.  My film explores illusions, no dissolves between light and darkness. My concern, as in all my paintings, is to relate to a specific Indianness and which is why the premise of the film is Varanasi”.

Everyone was intrigued why Madhuri Dixit danced with her back to the camera?  “Facing camera is not essential, I am celebrating the female form, presenting the woman as sublime but the audience still views her as a sexual object.” Madhuri Dixit, Tabu, Shabana Azmi and other heroines understood that and were proud to enhance MF Hussain’s majestic frame. He told all of them the same line: “It is a story of women who carry pots and jangle ghungroos as they walk, alone and endlessly.

Shabana Azmi is right, we did not value MF Hussain and celebrate his genius while he was alive.

Concluded

Varanasi and Kalidasa

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“Sangeeta, the blind singer in the unending lanes of Dalmandi, meets four other women.  Noor Bibi of Satara, a symbol of stability, Premchand’s Nirmala, Sindhu, from the pages of Abhisarika, eternally yearning for her lover. In their unique bonding, the women consolidate power and define their identity in a man’s world. Then there is Shakuntala, inspired from the poetry of Kalidasa who resides in a small hut of Kerala’s jungle and it is here that Shakuntala meets her lover, they unite in a Gandharva vivah. Isn’t it a unique story?”

 To be continued

Director of Gajgamini – Day 2002

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Our second meeting, was when I went to interview him at his home in Cuffe Parade, Mumbai. While he talked about his life, his domesticity buzzed in the background, children opened and closed the refrigerator, his daughter hummed a song and his cook chopped and cleaned in the kitchen as the pressure cooker whistled impatiently.  

It was a normal day in an extra-ordinary life and the majestic canvas with all the paints and brushes placed in the center of the living room was part of it. I have memories of him as an artiste and as a filmmaker. His film Gajgamini released in the year 2000, didn’t succeed because his vision was ahead of his time.

I remember him stopping by my office, narrating the idea, said Gajgamini was born out of the black brick wall of Pandharpur. The muse manifests herself into four different characters. “The wall is the metaphor and the narrative the bridges that binds time, people and spaces”. I heard him in silence, stared at his snow-white long hair and the trademark cane comfortably resting against my desk. Black coffee was served on my desk and Hussain saab continued…