Friday, 22 March 2013
This time when I went to India, I had a plan to shoot a short film. I had the script in my mind and more than half of it on paper as well. I had my production team and had discussed the project with them on Skype.
I had asked my niece Priyanka to be the producer and told her what a producer does since she had never done anything like it before. My 1st AD was to be my nephew Sagar who had worked on some projects with his friends and is quite good in thinking creatively.
For cast, we had some ideas, some people lined up and other roles to be picked in the village. I had written the script to be shot in a village and at first I had the plan to shoot in our own village, but the kids convinced me that it’d be better to shoot in Maheshpur which is their ‘nanihaal’ (my brother’s In-law’s live there.)
If I write all the details of this shoot, this story will go on for ever. So I will just write the outline here and then write separate posts for some of the more deserving incidents or aspects of this project.
My biggest hurdle proved to be finding a female lead. I had the idea that given Delhi’s current situation vis-a-vis the film industry, I would have no issues finding a heroine. But it proved not so easy. It seemed that in view of Delhi’s current social climate asking a young girl to accompany us, complete strangers, to a village about 100 kms. from Delhi for 5 days was like a crime in itself. But in the end, I did find a heroine, just a day before the scheduled departure!
So, we did shoot in the village and it was not always easy but it was all fun. We faced both cold and heat, we had to deal with throngs of villagers attending all our outdoor shoots and we had other issues. But it all worked out ultimately.
In the end, I was very proud of the cast and crew I had assembled. The female lead, Jyoti, was a theatre actress who gave performances I simply loved. The male lead, Gaurav, was my 1st AD’s friend who also gave good performances though sometimes I had to direct him a little but he did learn very fast.
Some of the cast I selected from the village. I had even written roles for Sagar and Priyanka. Both performed very well!
What I was most proud of was my crew!
Other than the two kids I mentioned above, I had my younger nephew Gaurav also in the crew. I taught him, yes, taught him, how to record sound on location. He never asked me a second time! He figured out the sound device on his own (we were recording double-system) and he did such a great job as soundman that I was astonished! Both Priyanka and Sagar excelled in their crew roles, asking questions when needed and taking care of details with such professionalism like they had made films all their lives!
Usually in a film unit there are at least a few instances of temper tantrums and personality clashes. But here, we all fitted well like a family, even the cast members who were not part of the family when we started from Delhi. Well, they were like family by the time we finished!
We worked hard on those days, extremely hard, sometimes going without lunch or dinner in order to finish a scene first. But the result was that we got the footage we wanted. Or I should say, we got the footage *I* wanted!
We got a lot of help from the villagers in general and my brother’s parents-in-law in particular. We did overshoot our schedule by a few hours and as a result departed on the 5th of March instead of the 4th.
We had finished by noon on 5th, so I wanted to shoot a scene for an ad film that I had been commissioned to do. I had told the actors about this before, I had the script ready, but we would need a couple of hours to shoot.
But Sagar took me aside and pointed out that nobody had got much sleep the previous night, and we had all done a few scenes in the heat and sun that morning. Considering that he thought it would not be nice to ask the actors to exert further in that harsh sun. I had not seen this side of it in my zeal to finish some additional work.
Not only was I not ashamed that I had missed it, I actually felt proud that Sagar had caught it. My kids are growing up!
I have not mentioned the scene we called Magnum Opus in this narrative at all. That’s because I plan to write a full post on that one, it deserves it.
The whole reason for this long post was to make a background for the photos that I am putting below here. I am sure you will notice my unkempt look in some of the pictures, so let me just explain by saying that I now understand why directors look like unshaved, unbathed hobo’s in their on-location videos. They have neither the time nor the mind to spend on such details, the only thing that matters is the film! And so it was with me!