(Get ready to sit back and enjoy a narrative that you won't want to end. Here Sujoy continues his series on the genesis of 'Aladin' and tells of the remarkable faith that Mr. Bachchan showed in him and also the sagacity of the great actor in suggesting to him the next film to make after the non-performance of 'Home Delivery'...not to mention a guest appearance, in the narrative, by Abhishek Bachchan, Mr. India and 'It's the time to disco'. So turn off those cellphones, get a cup of coffee and read on... - NV)
I remember the day clearly...
FILM CITY. FLOOR 9. 2003
I stand in one corner.
Atul Kasbaker clicks away stills for Dabur, while Mr. Bachchan poses.
Suddenly he shouts “STOP”!
- It’s too boring...let’s get some music on.
Hurry hurrush rush ... and a music sytem appears by magic in which he slides in a CD. The music is from a new film yet
to be released. I had never heard the music before...
(It sounded OK. Very deep and intense philosophical stuff. Little did I know that this unreleased film is going to become one of my favorite films. Anyway…)
Mr.Bachchan calls out to me... I go.
“So you are going to make Borivali?...”
“Not me Sir.. WE are going to make it...no main or aap here... HUM…”
The song changes in the background(apt timing):
“Okay I am doing it. Make me look good” …
YESSIR!!!! and I run out of the set lest he changes his mind.
He shouts at my sprinting form: “But not before 2005 .. I’m packed till then…”
Chalega! That gives me enough time to do a small film and find money for ‘Borivali’ parallely (I know that’s not a word, but then..).
The song in the background tells me what to do...
‘It’s the time to disco!”
I had written the first draft of Aladin with Ritesh Shah.
This was a story of Aladin and an international cartel of forty men who wanted to rule the world. They had a simple game plan. Kill the real leader of the country and replace him with a clone. They succeeded in doing that across the world till they came to India and their paths crossed with Aladin. It was - at least I thought - a fun filled film. One scene being particular favorite... the clone of a bank manager robs his bank while being remotely controlled by the forty men... one of the forty men instructs him: ‘Keep an eye on the door ” … the clone takes out his mechanical eye and places it on the table which faces the door.
After a few months the first draft script was ready. Now to take it to Sir.
I had very briefy mentioned ‘Aladin’ to him before..
“Sounds interesting… but not Abhishek as Aladin,” he had voiced his concern. “We are doing a few films together... take a fresh face…”
YRF STUDIOS. Make-up Room.
Sir listens to my narration after a long Reid and Taylor shoot.
As usual there in no reaction on his face. But rest assured he is listening to every word.
After I finish there is a pause. He thinks for a while...
There is a silence in the room which reminds me of ...
JALSA. Mr. BACHCHAN’S OFFICE
…the same silence.
‘Borivali’ was not working out.
It didn’t seem the right movie to embark upon after ‘Home Delivery’.
Also Sir had certain issues with the amount of action in the final draft of ‘Borivali’. There was too much action.
“I may not be able to give my 100% in these sequences and that worries me. The film may suffer... that makes me uncomfortable"…
(Honestly, at that point, I thought he was taking it too seriously but then every shooting day of ‘Aladin’ is standing proof that he takes his work seriously. Very seriously.)
Also he is worried about me.
After the failure of ‘Home Delivery’ he wanted me to make something bigger.
Here I was...people had already written me off...and Sir wanted me to make something bigger and happier!
‘Borivali’ was dark and disturbing.
“Come back to it at a later time but for now trust me.. and write a brighter movie.” I am blank. “What do you say?”, he asked as he turned to the man beside me and that fellow nodded in agreement and took me to the next room.
“Don’t worry...is there anything else you can do?” that man asked me.
After Borivali I had only one thing and ...
“Perfect! You write and I guarantee you dad will do it. But write a kick-ass script...who will you cast as Aladin?”.
That was the simplest part. The answer came without thinking.
“Perfect ! He and dad will be a good pair”...
But my worry was different. Script, Ritesh sab thik hain lekin who will give me the money to make Aladin?
“If you don’t find a producer, I will produce it for you,” Abhishek said, “but write a mind-blowing script…”
I turned to Riteish for support but that was a complete mistake...
That dude was jumping up and down at the thought of making ‘Aladin’.
“Write it, write it, write it NOW!”
He was like one of those kids you would take to the zoo but bring back because there is no empty cage.
I tried to tell him ‘Dude I just had a flop film’. Riteish was rolling on the floor with laughter.
“...Yes. And with that you have added another flop to MY career… So now you owe me a hit”
I was going to hit him but then remembered he too was in ‘Home Delivery’.
I turned to Vishal and Shekhar and they had their own grumble..
“You do whatever you want BUT will you film the songs or not?
“All of the songs? In full?
“Not like what you did in Home Delivery?”
“@£$% it! We don’t believe you!”
But these are my brothers. Even if I walk on fire, they will walk with me.
And it happens only in India.
The silence is broken.
“Er... Sujoy it sounds great and has lots of new stuff…but what’s the story? I am not getting a feel for the story...and it sounds very childish…”
I tried to reason which he patiently listened to.
“Let me think about it,” he requested.
I knew instinctively that he did not like the script.
That night I re-read the script. I realised Sir was right...my script was potty!
It was lots of gimmicks but no soul. It was a Van Helsing and not a Mr. India.
This is India. We need to feel our films. This is where a bullet ridden Vijay Verma drives to the temple to meet his mother… and a dying Aman Mathur runs out of the hospital to meet his love...these are moments in which we shamelessly cried because this is what we are made of. This is India.
And so, back to the drawing board and to write such a script that will make Sir say yes.
A big, happy movie.
So how does one write a script for a film which wants to be a BIG summer franchisee? A movie that is hundred percent made in India and nothing that the world has seen before...
It will be like an ‘Indiana Jones’, a ‘Star Wars’, a ‘Harry Potter’, a ‘Spideman’, an ‘X-men’…but more importantly : like a ‘Mr. India’.
And if we are going to put screaming Pterodactyls in it or a boy catching a flying comet : How Do I Do it? Kaise?
It has to be awesome. And even though Po the Kung Fu Panda may disagree, there IS a price to awesomeness!!
… I was going to write about how I wrote Aladin but more important things beckon. I have got comments in my blog… Lord be praised! … and I need to reply to them.
Tejas – thanks man.. will keep it coming but its damn hard time wise.. so much post-production work is on.
Sam- will tell you soon,
Adios – just allow me a little time and the photos will flow.
Fan no 1 - ?? I thought I was. 24th July Aladin is out. Please see.
Raman – Spot on Bro. The man is a superman.
Pratim – You give me dope on DADA ..I will give you on ‘Borivali’.
Fats and K – promos hit in May. We just cut a few. Looking fantatistic!!
Me – Thank you. Am I talking to myself here?
Prashant – High 5 bro ! We do what we believe in.
Thanks for reading.