And thus, it begins.
A small board, put together hastily by the carpenters, set up in one of the many lanes in this beautifully mouldy backdrop of a film studio.
A printout of the name of the production, the logo of the Production company and the producers, pasted onto a make-shift base.
And a large red arrow that points you to where a new dream is beginning...
In the dusty, quiet bylanes of Mumbai’s Bandra, taking a left before going on to Mt. Mary’s Basilica, lies a verdant, leafy valley, lined with old buildings and huge box-like constructions. A complex, if you will, of what we in the film industry call ‘floors’. This is Mehboob Studios, the famous landmark, where every day, countless small, insignificant human beings with superhumanly big dreams hold up their heads and scream ‘ACTION!’ - and see them come true. And months of hard work later see those dreams become significant for millions of others.
October 21, 2007, we became part of that hallowed group.
It was the first day of shooting ‘Aladin’. Or as it’s popularly called, the ‘mahurat’, the day we pause and pray for the entire shooting schedule, for the cast and crew and for the fate of the film. And then, break a coconut and spread the joy by giving it to all as ‘prasadam’. A day when we finally know - this is it! We’re doing it! We’re starting off on the journey, eyes locked onto the destination, prepared for the most incredible, astounding, heart-breaking, soul-destroying and in equal measure life-affirming and uplifting ways in which we’ll get there.
It’s the day we tell ourselves movies are our life. Paraphrasing/reinterpreting Salinger - movies are not our profession - they are our religion. And the camera, the floor, the equipment, the passion of the people involved in the making of it - holy. So we thank whoever it is up there that likes us - for the opportunity, the blessing, the chance - to make a movie, to live the dream - of making dreams.
Orson Welles very famously said that a film floor/studio is the biggest electric train set any boy ever had. What he forgot to mention is how you don’t just get the toy-train set - you have to go out and look for it in marketplaces all over and buy it first. And not just buy it - look for all the right parts and pieces, spend time and money scanning the entire world for just the right engine and the perfect tracks and then the space to set up the whole thing and then have the skill and the patience to put it all together and make it run. But with a little help from your friends, all this is possible, in fact, even enjoyable. Like an adventure.
These are our friends - the team that started it all and made it happen. Over the course of these (almost 2 years) of shooting and editing and scoring and post-production, more people came in. Some became friends, some stopped being friends and left, and this group from this number, collected here, grew to hundreds upon hundreds - and it’s still growing! And in the end, auteur-theory and every other ego-trip notwithstanding, ‘Aladin’ owes its existence to them all. Because they are the ones who put in unimaginable hours with a smile, took on odds and the insane problems that happen on set and off it, and turn them into opportunities to make the film, and make it the best that they can. They are the real genies … and they come without lamps.
What is the purpose of this blog? To blog about the projects at our motion picture company ‘Boundscript’, a place we’re trying to make a powerhouse of motion-picture making in India, the kind you’ve not seen before. And as the poet said, in great dreams begin responsibilities. So we’ve taken it upon ourselves to try and lift the veil of some of the things we are doing and update you on what it takes to try and make hindi ‘Bollywood’ movies for the new millennia, in the new millennia.
So come check on us often. You’ll find links to great sites that will help you hone your skills as screenwriters, directors, actors, sound-engineers, editors - the works. We’ll try and give you the lowdown on what’s going on in the mad and insulated world of ‘Bollywood’ and also, from time to time, keep you posted on ‘Aladin’ and our other productions. We’ll post art-work, concept drawings, special teasers, posters, work-under-progress and what have you. And we’ll ask you to join in over a few things which require a little more help from new friends...so keep checking back regularly.
For all those of you tired and jaded and blasé about Indian, especially hindi film-making, let us invite you to read a new chapter. Let us try and challenge the reality of things and make a new beginning. ‘Aladin’ is an attempt at that. From the conception to it’s final execution and marketing, we’ve tried to push the boundaries of what is possible in ‘Bollywood’. It is for you to judge, as it readies to release and you see glimpses of it, whether we’re on the right track. But this we know - this is the way we want to make movies. And we’re damn proud of it.
Over time, our cast and crew and friends will step in and blog, pitch, joke, bitch, rant, rave and go through the attendant phenomena of e-living. Sujoy Ghosh, the director, will tell you about how ‘Aladin’ came into being, how he managed to convince such awesome big talent to sign up for it, what he’s prepping next. Ritesh Shah, the writer, will talk about the unfairness of people who judge film scripts based on the films they see - and the whole deal with ‘content is king’ that's in fashion now. The DOP of ‘Aladin’ Sirsha Ray will talk about the difficulties of setting up and shooting such a film. Sabu Cyril, art director extraordinaire, will walk you through the stunning sets he created and the thought processes behind each. And there’ll be bits and bytes from the various crew members who braved the elements and temperaments to make ‘Aladin’. Not to mention dope onthe new films we are prepping and producing - their cast and crew will join in the fun and hopefully keep you entertained enough to keep coming back for more.
Thanks for reading, and before we leave, a fine example of what makes film-making such a joy, despite the pressures and impossible deadlines and choices and working hours. A photograph on set that we discovered among the piles we’ve collected. If you look carefully, you’ll probably see ...the genie...of course you’ll say it’s just perception. But then that’s what we do. That’s our religion. Playing with perception. And we'd like to believe we're the best at what we do.
So watch this space.
Coz you'll have never seen anything like this before.
And that’s a promise.
The only solutions that are ever worth anything are the solutions that people find themselves.’ - Satyajit Ray