Posts Tagged ‘making’

If you have not seen the “making of” Udaan, you have missed the best “making of” (film) made in recent years. Quickly go here and here and watch it. It’s as good as Udaan and is a film in itself.

Cut to

Lootera.

Again. Hope no controversies this time 🙂

Lootera making

Since they started teasing about it, we have been keenly waiting for Lootera making. Good news is it’s out. Bad news is it’s just 5 minutes. But it looks good – unlike others it gives a real sense of “making a film”. We hope they soon release the full making of the film.

One of the best things about your favoutite film is that you are never tired of reading about them. And if it’s a landmark film, then with every passing year as its cult grows bigger, stories surrounding those films became urban legends. Satya is one such film. And though we have heard so many stories about its making, one is always interested to read more. So as its editor Apurva Asrani  started writing about its making on his blog, we thought it would be nice to share the post here too. Over to him.

Satya

My name is Apurva Asrani. I am a film editor. My job profile includes receiving shooting rushes and putting together a cohesive film. I attempt to choose the most honest moments in the material to string together a tableau of scenes. I try to work at proper punctuation. i.e moving around silences, action, music and dialogue to flow rhythmically. I try to clean up the rough edges in performances, sometimes cheating moments to bring on the desired effect. ‘There is no one above the film’ is a motto that I have tried to follow in a career spanning 17 years, 13 films, 5 tele-films & 3 theater productions, often confronting ego’s that were infinitely bigger than the film.

When factors bigger than the film were in control, i.e stars, marketing gimmicks and/or producers with no real love for cinema, the films found no audience. Some were appreciated in part, but not in whole. But several times, the power of the story was above all involved, and the crew worked selflessly, leveled under the radiance of good intention. For me, Satya , Snip!, Chhal, Jalpari-The Desert Mermaid & the yet to release Shahid are all examples of good teamwork.

I spent my 20’s thrilled like a kid in a celluloid store. I have had intimate creative relationships with incredible film personalities like Ramgopal Varma, Hansal Mehta, Anupam Kher, Basu Bhattacharya Bhupen Hazarika & Nagesh Kukunoor. My joy knew no bounds when I spent days with legends like Mehmood & Shammi Kapoor while putting together a show for TV. I have even worked with some incredible people who I could never relate to, like Vashu Bhagnani. This blog is my attempt at documenting memories from some of those relationships.

Ramgopal Varma & Satya

In 1997, when I was a teenage promo producer, a mad-man named Ramu asked me to edit a film called Satya. Mani Rathnam’s Iruvar was about to release and I had heard that it had been cut digitally, i.e on Avid. I had already befriended the digital editing system through my TV & promo work and found that I had an ally in Ramu in going digital. Ramu was high from the failure of Daud and the man mesmerized me. Instead of getting crushed by rejection of his biggest budget film to date he was reveling in its failure. He knew that he was garnering a cult following, and was being admired for making the offbeat comedy the way he wanted to. He carried the creative air of a man who had produced & directed the biggest musical hit of those days, Rangeela, and soon his revelry was to became rebellion against the popular grain.

Ramu, me & Avid Media Composer spent one year in a 6 by 8 foot cabin while editing Satya. I met a man who gambled with life and had a mischievous disposition while doing it. ‘Ramu’ truly wanted to tell Satya’s story. He was living vicariously through the character. The South Indian producer penetrating the Bombay market was a striking parallel with Telegu cinema’s Chakravarti penetrating Manoj Bajpai & Saurabh Shukla’s underworld in the film. In the film, Chakravarti ordered the sudden killing of ‘Bollywood star’ commissioner Paresh Rawal, and Ramu had made his point. The fact that the film found cult status only cemented the man’s journey thus far.

 Ram-Gopal-Varma

The Team

Ramu had put together an incredible team for Satya. There was the unlikely writing duo of Saurabh Shukla & Anurag Kashyap, both chipping into the film with more than just their writing roles. There was the American director of photography Gerard Hooper, who closely collaborated with his Indian counterpart Mazhar Kamran to bring us grit like never before. There was the Industry veteran Krishna who has over a 100 film titles to this credit, but only one as Art Director–for Satya. There was Vishal Bharadwaj, at the start of his juiciest creative phase.

I remember riding with Ramu in his red Maruti Esteem and we were listening to the songs of the Chandrachur Singh starrer, Betaabi. The film was a wash-out but Vishal’s powerful music fueled this car to the Versova sea side office, where Ramu was putting together a team for his underworld film. ‘You like this, Apurva?’ Ramu had asked me, a gawky 19 year old, still numb from the opportunity that had been presented to him. Having been a fan of Vishal since Maachis, I vehemently supported his decision to go with him. I was beginning to feel the onset of a magical phase in my life.

Anurag Kashyap was the irreverent mischievous kid on the set, often getting into sulks with Ramu about Saurabh’s involvement. I remember this huge stand-off about whose name should appear on top, when I had cut the first promo of Satya. Ramu used good humor and leveraged the awe each team member had for him, to manage the ‘children’ on set. I was younger than Anurag, but I was the more serious kind. Diligently trying to prove myself on-set and in the editing room. I knew nothing about film editing, but I would trip-out on the wild material in the darkened room, sometimes not going home for hours and days on end. I seemed to enjoy telling stories & after writing, I found only editing to be an uncorrupted creative space. Besides, the rushes for Satya were honest and ‘ballsy’, unlike the cinema of the day. You couldn’t help but become consumed by the material.

Editing Satya

‘Stay out of the room’, I’d shout, sending my assistant Pradnya to stand as a barricade to the studio door, so that Ramu’s curious eyes couldn’t see what I was cutting. I had a desire to shock and I knew early on that directors must wait till the cut is complete, before they can see it. The Ramu of 1997 was a humble man. Like a child, he would plead to watch it, try and peer through a small window in the door, but he would wait outside till he was allowed in. Most often, the results would please him to no end, and there would a deluge of film personalities who would be invited to see the brewing magic.

Two meetings that I will never forget are with Gulzar, also the lyricist of the film & with Shekhar Kapoor, high on the success of Bandit Queen. When Gulzar walked in, a nervous Ramu forgot to introduce me to him (Ramu always introduced me to his guests), I was also very nervous to turn around and look at the legendary kurta-pyjama clad auteur. Then I distinctly remember there was a soft touch on my shoulder, I turned to see Gulzar who smiled at me and said hello. I was floored. Shekhar Kapoor was all chatty and excited. He couldn’t stop raving about his editor Jill Bilcock who had just cut his film Elizabeth and I was already feeling jealous.

Ramu allowed me break up, re-align, mold and reshape the film the way I wanted to. I believe that’s how he dealt with the writers, actors and camera crew as well. Allowing everyone he trusted to interpret his vision. I never really understood then, how rare it was to find great teamwork. I think Ramu also soon forgot.

Satya was never intended to open the way it did. The opening scene was written with Satya’s character’s arrival in Mumbai. I remember thinking that the opening was flat. What was needed was a fiery and sinister set-up, the correct atmosphere for the silent Satya’s arrival. I wrote an opening voice over about the city of Mumbai and cut it to a montage of city shots. I got actor Aditya Srivastav to correct my Hindi and dub a VO on the avid. I used climatic shots of the long-haired gangster Sabir Masani shooting angrily at a newspaper right at the start of the film, and inter-cut shots from Vidya’s (Urmila Matondkar) fathers funeral pyre (from later in the film).

The sequence got its desired reaction. Ramu jumped up from his seat and clapped in awe. I knew in that moment, that there was no other industry I’d rather work in.

(To Be Continued)

( You can follow Apurva Asrani on Twitter here and his blog is here)

First, the good news – Derek Cianfrance’s new film The Place Beyond The Pines is releasing in theatres this Friday. His last release was the heartbreaking drama, Blue Valentine. If you still haven’t seen it, DO WATCH. Click here to read a terrific recco post by Subrat.

Starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper an Eva Mendes, it’s released by PVR Pictures. Also, we have been informed that there are no Censor cuts in the film. And do check out the embedded document where director Derek Cianfrance gives an introduction to his film.

You can read the same document on Scrib here.

And here’s the opening scene of the film

If I ever convert to Islam, put the blame on A R Rahman. Aha, that’s rhyme too. Piya Haji Ali, Maula maula and Khwaja mere khwaja – can play these three songs in non-stop loop.  And Rahman is going in similar territory again, with a new track in Imtiaz Ali’ Rockstar – Kun faaya kun.

Click on the play button and enjoy! It’s sung by Rahman, Mohit Chauhan and Javed Ali.

And here’s the making of the song/video…

Tip : DaMovieManiac

After graduating with an MBA degree and working for five years in Pune and Delhi, Neeraj Ghaywan moved to Mumbai. A new job for another 3 months and then he quit it all. To live, breathe and make Cinema. He started working with Anurag Kashyap. Life hasn’t been much easier since then but Ghaywan survived. Assisted Kashyap on Wasseypur and after working with him for a year, he has now directed a short called Shor. I saw it, loved it, and never thought that AK School Of Filmmaking could churn out another graduate so fast. In this post, Ghaywan blogs about making his short, from research to writing, casting to shooting..read on.. Some stills and the trailer is attached.

I read this research snippet about a woman doing a research on the influence of hormones on relationships. A part of the research involved the woman standing on an empty street asking out men for a date. She asked over 20 men. Her success rate was 40%. She did the same thing on a dangling bridge on a rough weather day. Her success rate jumped to about 85%. Though the static may not be exact but the hypothesis that she arrived at was that people are vulnerable to fall in love in dangerous situations. I had forgotten the article but it stuck in my subconscious and eventually led to an idea about the human condition at the face of death. When we embrace death, our most vulnerable time, we find our truest side. We confront what really matters to us. That became the basis for Shor. Yes, I wasn’t too happy with the title myself but when you see the film you’ll realize we couldn’t have come up with another name.

Shor is about Lallan and Meena, a couple from Banaras (North India), consumed by their pursuit to survive in the seedy ghettos of Mumbai city. Lallan has lost his job at the factory and ambles about hopelessly searching for a way out. Meena has taken up tailoring to make ends meet, losing touch with her emotions, and almost turning into a machine herself. One day they truly find each other while embracing death, divorce and redemption, all just over a phone call.

I had the basic structure of the script ready but I didn’t want to compromise with the culture and milieu of the characters. For me it is very essential to have the premise to adhere to a agreed upon set of culture and ethos. I used to take autorickshaw rides and speak to the drivers at length, recording the conversation on my phone and later make notes from it. I must have spoken to some 40 odd rickshaw drivers to arrive at 4 of them who were from Banaras. I conducted a focus group with these people, inviting them to my house. Yes yes, I have an academic and corporate background and old habits die hard. Anyway, I spoke to them for a long time about their lives, their homes, how they dealt with their wives, I made them call their wives and understand how they spoke to them in crisis etc. Finally, I wrote the script along with dialogue. I was very scared and excited. It was ready and I had to show it to Anurag ( I was assisting him on Wasseypur). It’s like you are going for an appraisal interview to your boss. He read the first page and rejected it. He didn’t read further and I was heartbroken. I felt terrible, this was not just a short film script, but my first work to my boss and he had rejected it. Some people rubbed it in. I almost felt like abandoning the whole idea of becoming a filmmaker. It was humiliating. I thought I should still do this.

I called my rickshawala brotherhood. I decided to go to their homes. Some of them were kind enough to oblige. I spent time at their place; observing their lifestyle, the objects in their houses, the kids, the neighborhood, what they did in their free time, what pained them, what made them happy etc. It helped in understanding their lifestyle and most importantly what language they spoke. Now that I had enough material, I started rewriting the dialogues. When you start writing dialogues, you realize how difficult is writing a screenplay as against a book or a short story. The research helped me in identifying the insecurities that they lived with and how they expressed themselves. I wrote a draft and ran it past Vineet Singh (the lead actor of Shor) and Varun Grover ( a writer friend). They made some tone and grammar corrections with the dialogue I wrote. By the way, Vineet Singh has the fine charm of the angry young man and I have lost the count of how many languages he knows. Finally Anurag read the script. He said it has great potential if I had established the two characters in the same space. He had couple of ideas. I put everything together but didn’t show the final draft which by the way, was the tenth draft.

I just wanted to go ahead and shoot. The more I deliberated the more I’d distance from the passion to make it. Also, there was this pressure of having assisted for only six months and here I was, attempting to make a difficult short film in complete guerrilla style. The folks at Tumbhi.com loved the script and I was ready to go. But there was one problem; the shooting process could only be started in August along with the competing short films, which was completely understandable. But I couldn’t have shot in the monsoons as the film was mostly in difficult exterior locations. So I borrowed money from friends for the shoot (Thank You Anubhuti Kashyap and Suresh Nayak). We got into pre-production, Rishabh and Puja jumped into help me on the film. Rishabh was great help on the locations and convincing people for the shoot.  Puja is responsible for the look  and the costumes. Poor her, she had to stay away from the action for all the work. They have really worked hard during the film. Super line producer Deep Singh came on board. We did the shot breakdowns, location recces and the research for costume, art and the train routes and stations. Mukesh Chhabra unconditionally helped me to understand what to look for while casting actors. He even did couple of auditions for me.

Umpteen number of rehearsals happened. Ratnabali, the female lead of Shor, was doing English theatre. To be honest, I was panicking because I wanted everyone to get the accent right. I am a stickler for accents. Vineet and I had a lot of sessions on accent modulation with Ratnabali. And when we did the final rehearsal, Ratnabali took me by surprise. I was shocked the way she picked the nuances of the culture. Amardeep Jha, agreed to play the amma. She was perfect in that role and she brought in her own mannerisms to add depth to her role. I remember someone telling me “Oh wow, she’s Sharman’s mom from Three Idiots”.

After an elaborate session we finally arrived at the shot break down. I am of the opinion that it’s almost impossible to replicate the feel of real locations and objects. I abstained from an extensive production design, relying completely on the property available on location (Malwani and Dharavi). . You can never think of a plastic toy of a swan couple with a broken wing. Like how coincidental is that!One of the auto drivers from the research, Pavan Sharma offered his house to make it as our crew base. His neighbor Irshad Shah offered his house as the main house of the film. Not only that, he and his wife also acted in the film. Pavan’s son was the little kid who plays Lallan and Meena’s son. His expressions still haunt me. Milind Shirke, my DoP is fantastic at guerrilla shoots. In public locations he would just hold the camera and either look away or talk over the phone. He used to tell me that if you set the frame, don’t look into the viewfinder for static shots. When you look in to your camera’s view finder, that’s when people look into the camera. He has great sense of framing and very quick at conceptualizing them too. We shot on Canon 7D as the motion capture is better on a 7D as against 5D. For the wide top angle shots, I got the watchman of the only tall building in the ghetto to agree use the building terrace. On the day of the shoot he backed out. In my broken Bhojpuri I made him believe that we are shooting a docu which is about ‘our people’ from Bihar and this film will be a ‘message to the government to listen to us to our woes’. That watchman got all charged up; thankfully he never asked me what I was fighting against. He was all supportive but he still declined. And then I realized he is expecting me to bribe him. I never felt so guilty in my life to have bribed someone, not even when I got caught driving without a license. It was a great idea to go all guerrilla with the shoot.

Without the guerrilla style, the film could have easily become one of the most expensive short films in India. More than the saving, it gave us the freedom of canning the shots exactly the way we wanted. The authorities would have never allowed us to take certain shots if we had shot with permissions. Honestly, if we were caught, we all would have been in jail. To avoid that, we made rules. No three people will be seen together, video assist was avoided. As much as I wanted it, we didn’t take the boom mike. We managed to shoot in sync sound with couple of lapels and a mini sound recorder for ambience. Every location we would find a make-shift base and hide whenever cops or some authorities would come around. I can’t thank Vineet and Ratnabali enough for their courage and conviction. They both risked their lives while shooting for Shor.

Post production took way longer than I had anticipated. I am working on the post-production of Wasseypur and I made Shor in between all the running around for Wasseypur. That was the most difficult part. I had to teleport myself from one studio to another studio, one film to another. Both films were equally close to my heart and it was difficult juggling and two timing. Thankfully, I had a great editor in Nitin Baid. I was handling post and he was assisting the head editor,Shweta Venkat for Wasseypur. They are a lovely team to work with. For few days, when I ran out of money for studios, Shweta loaned her macbook to me and also allowed Nitin to work on Shor while working on Wasseypur. It was great help. Zahir Bandukwala designed the sound and Suhaas Ahuja (You will soon experience their work in That Girl In Yellow Boots). We did a 5.1 surround mix for sound and think it really is achievement by the sound team to pull of sync sound in such difficult locations . Vijesh Rajan, is a bundle of joy to work with. He did the VFX, color correction ( made a DSLR short film look like a film)  and the titles. He also made the poster.

I don’t know which filmmaker said this that the biggest task for a filmmaker is to assemble a great team which is excited about the project. That’s what worked for me the most. All of this was possible through http://www.tumbhi.com. Most of the cast and crew were found on their portal. It’s a great platform to discover talent from all corners of India. I am eternally indebted to Tumbhi.com for not only funding the project but also to give us a platform to make this happen. Above all, thanks Anurag! I owe this to you.

( PS – This post was first published on Tumbhi.com)

The news came as a big shock. Last week he gave an interview saying how he was preparing to direct a film. Infact, he was in Nainital for the recce of the same film. But seems fate had some other plans. Who would have thought! For all the laughs and for all the magic on silversceen, thanks Mr Baswani. RIP.

And for all you fans of Ravi Baswani & Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, here is some priceless stuff – the making of the film from CNN IBN’s Bollywood Blockbusters series. The cast and crew on the cult classic of our time…the untold tales. Mann me hai vishwaas..poora hai vishwaas.

After the success of Jab We Met, Kareena Kapoor was maha-miffed with Imtiaz Ali for not casting her in Love Aaj Kal. But recently, she got a chance to work with one of her favourite directors for the new Kurkure tv commercial. And we think, the actor-director bonding shows on air. Have a look, first the making and then the commercial.

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