First it was Madhuri Dixit and now its Kartik Krishnan. Rarely do people manage to get a film title based on their name. No, we dont want to count Ramu here. Thats for another day.
The 70 min film has been directed by Srinivas Sunderrajan. The cast includes Kartik Krishnan, Vishwesh K, Swara Bhaskar and D Santosh. Its shot by Hashim Badani and is written by Srinivas Sunderrajan & Vijesh Rajan. While trying to pitch his feature, Srini has been told by few that tu toh bachcha dikhta hai (which he does. 26 ka hai bus!), abhi film kya direct karega. Well, now he can throw the dvd on their face.
So while we wrote blogs, spread goss, struggled with writing and did tweet-twat, the bachchas got together and shot this film in less than 70k. Its been shot on Sony HDV Z1 in 30 days over a period of one year. And there are more twists in its making than in the film. Read on.
Many of you must have already seen the trailer. If not, click on the play button.
Over to KK.
The 1st draft of the script was ready and emailed to me on Feb 20th 2009 by the director and my friend Srinivas Sunderrajan with a instruction in CAPS saying ‘BANIYAN KHAREED” (helpful in attaching the lapel mike to the actor). We begin the actor rehearsals. The screenplay is in place but no dialogues. “Why?” I asked. “Because I want to improvise it”
When the Locations would be available for say a Saturday, the actors would meet on a Wednesday for a reading and rehearse under Srinivas’ instructions. If some interesting lines came about in the reading, they would be kept. A framework would be developed with the actors being given a free hand to fill in the meat. No sticking to lines, but simply improvising, but being in the scene, being in character.
All wide shots, long takes. Minimal cut-aways. Not necessarily adhering to traditional style shooting of covering a scene from all angles. Also this was done because we used to get the location for not more than 2 hours (read: Location). And there used to be at least 4 scenes (average) per location. The lapel mike works sometimes, and sometimes you have to keep the battery cover pressed down for it to work. So someone off-screen would do that (Mostly the director himself)!
Slowly it is falling into place.
Barring the actors, there used to be max. 3 people on the set – Srinivas (director), Hashim (Camera), and sometimes a friend to just help us out. But most of the time, it used to be just the two of them. Some locations, had one guy for lights.
We are our own costume designers, makeup men, location in-charge, food & catering. We lose our cool most of the times due to the high level of multi-tasking, but Srinivas’ level headedness kept us going. All actors/crew (except Srinivas) having day jobs and other assignments, postponing a day of shoot meant waiting at least for a week for the same location & all our dates to match.
There were 4 main locations in the film – KK’s flat, KK’s Office, Drinks Bar, Coffee shop. Coffee shop turned out to be an expensive affair so we had to settle in for a “sweet mart” which also had seating space for customers. With the help of Srinivas’ friend, we barged into one and finished two huge scenes in a span of 2 hours and before the owners could even realize what was happening – we vacated the premise.
For the drinks bar location, we had to visit the bar a couple of times, befriend the waiters, and then bribe them into letting us into the place to shoot early in the morning. So basically, 5am shifts wherein we used to enter the location via the backdoor, and then complete shoot before 9am because that’s when the main owner opens the front door shutter! We again had 3 long scenes at this venue and so we had to re-visit the location twice till Srinivas got everything he wanted.
KK’s flat was the cinematographer Hashim’s grandmother’s flat in Mohd.Ali road. Hashim had to basically trick the building people into saying that it was a student film and Srinivas’ ‘I’m still in college/school’ look came in handy! It was the most difficult location because the house was very near to the JJ Flyover and the sound pollution levels were maximum. To top it all, the house was on a slant so we had to basically balance ourselves while delivering our lines.
60% of the scenes are shot at this location in Mohd. Ali Road. The location is crucial because that’s the house of the protagonist, Kartik Krishnan.
Due to some major ‘postponements’ and ‘date issues’, we could not finish the 40% as pre-decided. Srinivas, by now, has spent half his year trying to get us all under one roof for a very crucial scene of the film – the ‘film shoot sequence’. Just when things try to brighten up, a call from Srinivas – “One section of the 3rd floor (our shooting floor) falls onto the 2nd floor. The building has been cordoned off by BMC and will be broken down in the next 6 days”.
We’re in a fix – Whether to risk our lives and finish the 40% in those 6 days or just figure out another location. Risking life seems stupid but the only “indie solution” here! Srinivas is in two minds about the whole film now since any other location would break the whole flow-chart.
Time lapse clouds
I don’t hear from Srinivas for quite sometime. I guess no one from the crew has any news about him or the film. What to do when you have completed close to 60% of the film and a location in continuity is unavailable and you have a completely absconding director? Drink booze? We do. Luckily our director is a tee-teetotaler (edit: And still is!)
Few months later
I’ve moved on to a new job. Also to a newer house. I get a call from Srinivas saying “I’ve cut a scene from the film – do you want to take a look?” Hell yeah!
Srinivas comes home and shows me the first interaction scene between Kartik Krishnan and Srinivas Sunderrajan. I like it. He seems positive of finishing the film – we talk about my dates etc. Things look bright.
A few days later, another phone call from him. “Dates clashing”, “Crew unavailable”, “Life moves on!”
Welcome 2010, bye 2009
Fresh look. Use the existing footage. Shoot something else. Build a new story around it. See if it works. It does. So it seems. But not all actors are available. REWRITE according to the available resources. Film becomes something else.
“I’ve got an idea to finish the film without involving everyone. I’ve already edited the film and written a rough script for the new version. You game?” – Srinivas
Shoot begins – again
Early morning 4am in local trains. 10 am versova beach. 11.30 local train to panvel. My house. Montage shots. Stock shots. B-rolls. Painful edit process.
Post production which was simultaneously happening, now needs to be addressed single mindedly. Does it all fit? Does it hold attention? Does the new story work? Is the VFX looking tacky? Inhibitions and doubts.
Screening for the cast
I saw it twice the same night. Seemed to hold. Long Takes kind of work. Don’t know what the audience will say.
CUT TO – PRESENT
Some talk about the festivals. Undecided. We are trying to spread the word. FB, twitter, mails. We’re hoping the film finds its own course.