Archive for April 25, 2010

The poster, music, stills, everything is out and now the first promo song of Raavan has been released. The song is behne de. Check it out.

With a day job that takes care of my bread and butter, and sometimes jam too, I happily give gyaan and quote Kieslowski wherever I can – Filmmaking doesn’t mean audiences, festivals, reviews and interviews. It means getting up at six o’clock in the morning. It means the cold, the rain, the mud and having to carry heavy lights. It’s a nerve- racking business and at a certain point everything has to come second, including your family, emotions and private life.

My roomie who wanted to become an actor once, is now happily settled with a day job and I taunt him, quoting Paash – Sabse khatarnaam hota hai apne sapne ka mar jaana. But then, someone tells me to get up at six in the morning, with cold, rain, mud and carry heavy lights, i will probably turn to other side. Aha, we romanticise everything. Kartik Krishnan isnt. He quit his day job, jumped into the pool where it matters and is trying to swim through. Read on.

Firstly just a clarification – BC refers to Before Christ and not ‘Bad Character’ in the police books or Behe**** in the goon books.

(Note – the word ‘AD’ usually refers to an Assistant Director. Spelt the same but pronounced & meant differently than the abbreviation AD. i.e. an AD film)

Like all ‘outsiders’ in the film industry till 2 yrs ago, I always perceived the easiest way for us to get into the film industry was to go upto an RGV, Mani Saar, Vishal bhardwaj, Anurag Kashyap, Sudhir Mishra etc etc and the other “sensible” directors (whose films we swore upon), prostate in front of them and beg for an AD job. That you might be paid peanuts, survive on vada-pavs & four square cigerettes, was a given (classic milds are for established directors and established ADs, some of whom also smoke the gold flake lights/davidoff lights/B&H Lights – I learnt later). Earlier it used to be haven with the complimentary ‘chakhna‘ (snacks) provided along with a quarter royal stag, which you could ask for as many times as possible in a local BAR ‘aani’ RESTAURANT, without having to loosen your purse – and could even pass it off as a ‘light dinner’. Now it is 20 bucks for peanuts/salad/’kakdi’/chakli etc.

But I’m digressing. Anyways the deal ‘percieved’ was that saying a ‘yes’ to all these factors (low pay,running around work, not so ‘rayeesana shauk’) would be AN OBVIOUS PAY-OFF FOR THE ‘CREATIVE LEARNING’ or ‘kitna kuch seekhne ko milega‘. This perception got strengthened more if you were a struggler like me – no degree in fimaking/mass media/mass comm from SRFTII/FTII/Xaviers/ZIMA/IP University/JMI MCRC and were simply a TY BCom (as they say it in Mumbai – Third Year) dropout/passout, or a former engineer like me. So basically we learn as much about filmaking on the job and eventually pitch our screenpays/ideas to someone willing to listen, in the hope they would may be arrange a producer-one-on-one, and lo behold – before you know we have a film being made. Your film. That would take some time but yes the path was there for the taking.

So we struggle around to be an AD. Approach directors and prostrate (thank god – these days they offer a handshake and make you feel professional and not a ‘bhakt’). Convince them of your bit knowledge and passion for films. In the event that we get the job, great. In case we don’t, we might have to fool around.


It means try and act in short films made by your peers, write some stuff, make short films, and if sometimes you are lucky, play the hotel manager in your filmaker friends’ film in a one scene appearance for three thousand ruppees or so. Anything that either keeps the kitchen fire burning and/or you getting some dabbling filmaking experience. And the tricky thing is, there is no ‘way’ laid down. You have to learn it yourself meeting like minded ‘strugglers’ who rarely drink the Barista coffee @ Yari Road/Royal stag at Adarsh/Madhuban Bar aani Restaurant; working and interacting with them, often for no pay; and fooling around in the creative medium. And in case you are lucky (which I might not), you sometimes also get work in AD.films/corporate films/music videos etc as an AD. (AD-ing in an AD. Film/corporate film/music video pays much more than AD-ing in a feature film, and is usually over 10 times more number of shoot-prep days)

And then you actually get that break as an AD in feature films-

Yeah. You’re on your way. Getting a monthly salary (not much but just enough) and working.


Being an AD has very very little ‘CREATIVE’ learnings.


1.Location recce or Scouting (going to the location and taking pictures to show to the director – maximum coverage from all angles – exterior & interior – sometimes indicating the directions – meaning North South East West)

2. Continuity excel sheet (unless the 1st ADs have generated that beforehand using Movie Magic/EP Scheduling)

3.Day Night Breakdown – which scenes are to be shot in day and which ones at night

4.Weapons breakdown

5.Location list breakdown

6.Email list of all HODs


8.Making sure everything and everyone is at place.

And the like. I’m listing very few of the many such excel sheets/filtering work/running around etc. I’m sure much more experienced ADs can add more (I only assisted on a few months on pre production on a feature film. Why ? I wont get into that)

So you get a bit disillusioned. Luckily if you are from the TY BCOM/BE category, you take it in your stride and go on working. If you are some film school passout – well you have to ask them but I’m guessing there is a jump cut from discussing Godard/Truffaut/De Sica into doing IT related work/organisational – administrative tasks – which might disillusion them too. For once, we feel like we’re in the same boat. But some of the savvy ones know the truth beforehand – Being an AD has very very little ‘CREATIVE’ learnings. So they move on.


Leave the creatives to the Director,DOP,ART director (very rarely is the writer mentioned along side the aforementioned list, but we’ll let that pass too). An AD’s job is executional and administrative.”


“It’s like making arrangements during a family wedding. Just because you run around getting shaadi ka laddoos, printing the cards, arranging liquor for the lousy group in ladke-walas, making sure the dinner is served on time, getting pure ghee for the havan; doesn’t mean YOU WILL ALSO HAVE A SUHAAG RAAT”

Ohh I get it. So basically doing all that doesn’t mean you will be a good groom, just that you are a good guy. Since the groom will simply sit with a plastic smile and wait for the first night. A very different skill set from the shaadi-mein-kaam-karnewale-honhaar-ladka set.

“As an AD, you are executing someone else’s vision, eventually so that you get to know how to execute yours”

But if you start out as an AD, 3-4 yrs and 4-5 films down the line, you have learnt the processes involved in making a film. It neednt necessarily mean the film you make is equally good as the ones who you have worked on, and of course vice versa. For eg: so many of the RGV proteges. Hazaron Khwahishein Aisi & Kal,Aaj Aur Kal; Lagaan & Mumbai se Aaaya Mera Dost/Mission Istanbul.

Recently, unemployment forced me to ask around for work – AD-ing on AD/corporate films. Was also looking around besides fooling around. Had an interview for a 3rd AD postiion in an AD film.

“Yours is a more creative resume. But for a 3 day AD film with 400 odd extras involved I don’t know how good you will be able to handle it.”

That’s a fair enough apprehension. Even I wouldn’t know if I would be capable of handling it.

A friend of mine said – “An AD turned director on his first feature film – was more interested in the things falling in place – all shots getting in time before the light goes away as opposed to discussing with DOP the ‘creatives’. The DOP was getting frustrated.”

So a couple of points

1. Bottom line – Not all good ADs make good directors. They’re different skill sets.

2. If being capable of handling 400 extras, costume continuity, excel sheets etc etc is one of the criteria of employing an AD – then why don’t the directors employ BBAs & MBAs ??? “Because the MBAs are sitting atop corporates deciding how a film should be made” – is what my friend joked. “Which MBA would do a managerial/executional job for the peanuts paid ?”

3. Unless an AD works how will he get experience ? And since 1st ADs are usually looking around for junior ADs who have experience, how will the junior AD get to work ? The Catch 22 problem explained so eloquently by Sachin in Trishul in a job interview to Shashi Kapoor.

4. Why should the fact the prospective AD did some writing/acting jig to learn the craft of filmaking/get titsy bitsy experience/money be a deterrant to his employment as an AD in features/AD films ? Agreed the skillset is different – but cummon man, one can learn. Managerial/Executional skills are easier to acquire than the ‘creative’ ones. Correct me if I’m wrong please.

5. 1st ADs at times get paid more than the writer. It’s a marvel of the industry which I haven’t understood.

6.”You have acting & writing experience on your resume. Why do you want to assist ?”

Hmmmm for these – experience in the process of filmaking; money, money & money; writing rarely pays if at all on time; Acting roles are extremly limited since a friend says “You’re the ugliest guy ever exposed to film stock”

7. “But You have writing & AD-ing experience on your resume. Why do you want to act ?”

Err… Refer to Q 6

8. “Doesn’t it create confusion to the employer as to what you want to do in life ?”

As if the film industry, why even our country, parliament, cricket team act in a Six Sigma Mumbai Dabbawala organised way ! If I’m good at the job should it really matter if I fuck around, beat my wife, walk in my house in undies Ransa style etc etc ?

Or better still – Did you ask this question when you knew I knew Java, MS Project Server, C++, Visual Studio and MS SQL ? Does this mean I cannot code in Java because I knew the other skills ? Or does this imply given an opportunity to learn & work on Main frames, I wouldnt be able to do so ?

Or better still – don’t you also know Hindi, Indian English, American English, Marathi and your mother tongue Tamil/Gujrati/Bengali/Punjabi/Bhojpuri/Telugu/Urdu/Sanskrit or whatever ?