(Part 1 of a long essay by Sujoy, the director, on the making of 'Aladin', how he got the idea, 'Jhankaar Beats', Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, doing what you believe in, Mr. Pritish Nandy (the man who has balls of steel) and other things of cinematic importance...so without further ado, here is Sujoy himself, posting from London - NV)
I have just realised that it’s far, far easier to write a screenplay than a blog! For the last 6 hours or so I have been trying to find THAT perfect start to my first ever blog, but like hell that’s going to happen in this lifetime.. so let’s just start..
I am here to share my experience in film-making and in making ‘Aladin’ and hope it helps someone in their pursuing of an impossible dream, for that is exactly what ‘Aladin’ was – an impossible dream. Charles had told me that it takes time to make a movie like ‘Aladin’. The first rule of the game is … ‘ S L O W D O W N !!!’
There is no rush. And if you are in a hurry… make some other movie. It’s a little more than fours years now... a year or so to script, year and a half of pre-production, 149 days of shoot, a year of post-production and finally it’s ‘SATYAKALPADROOM!’ The tree of imagination has come alive!
There are many reasons for me joining this industry… namely(in no particular order) Rahul Dev Burman, Kishore Kumar, Balraj Sahni, Anand Bakshi, Satyajit Ray, Naseeruddin Shah and Amitabh Bachchan. And of course the man who gave me admission… Mr. Pritish Nandy… the dude with balls of steel who took a gamble on a newcomer and a film called ‘Jhankaar Beats’.
I cannot write anything about myself without writing about Pritish Nandy first and, in particular, one incident which taught me about believing in what you do. To stand by what you believe in.
Because in this life, we can only do what we believe in.
The Censor Board had just seen ‘Jhankaar Beats’ and it was that awful moment of truth. What cert are we going to get.. we were desperately hoping for a universal certificate, however, deep in our hearts lurked a small fear. JB was the first film to have a blow-job in the movie and it was something which was required. In the movie, that is... to establish the normal healthy sex life of a married couple. A couple who loved each other very much and did not shy away from showing it physically. And since they didn’t ... they were, well, ‘caught’ under the radar of the Censor Board.
The Board loved the movie and wanted to give an universal certificate barring that one scene. We tried to reason... here Mr. Nandy was definitely an Oscar candidate when he tried to convince the board that Nicky (the wife) went down to look for a tiffin carrier she had dropped on the floor of the car !!!!! it was a priceless moment... we all sat there trying to look serious and nodding our heads in agreement... but the Board was far too experienced and responsible to let such matters through.
So the choice was simple: remove 48 frames and get an ‘U’ cert or keep and get an ‘A’(48 frames is exactly 2 seconds, by the way). Mr. Nandy chose the latter because he believed that was needed for the film. For 2 seconds he gave up what could be half of the possible revenue. Because he believed that the character of the film will not have the edge without that 2 seconds. He was in the game to make films. To make dreams happen exactly how they are dreamt. And he was right...
‘Jhankaar...’ went on to create its own destiny. It is coined the ‘father of multiplex cinema’. Would that have happened if we deleted the 2 seconds? I don’t know and I don’t care because I love my film how it is. I am absolutely, totally and fully in love with ‘Jhankaar..’ and ‘Home Delivery’ and ‘Aladin’. These are my children and I will never stop loving them. Good or bad, they are mine.
And I have no qualms in bowing to Pritish Nandy every time he passes me because not only did he give me my film, he taught me to believe.
END OF FLASHBACK.
And that’s how ‘Aladin’ happened.
Two people sat in the coffee shop of Mariott and believed that they will make a film which has never been seen before on the Indian screen.
A visual delight. It will be like eating ice-cream with your eyes.
They had met for the first time and they knew that between them they brought jackshit to the table. But they believed they could do it.
I had just come out from watching the premiere of ‘Masti’ and I knew I wanted to work with an actor called Ritesh Deshmukh. His comic timing was immaculate. I got his number and met him that night at the BBC in Mariott. And we decided we will make ‘Aladin’.
It will cost a lot of money but some how we will raise it. It would be as good as a ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘The Lord of the Rings’. I think we paused for a bit and laughed our guts out thinking what an insane path to embark upon but we wanted to and we did. Both of us had other dreams to pursue at that point... Ritesh had some 3 films he was committed to and I was pursuing my biggest ever dream...
To work with Amitabh Bachchan.
That was the reason for me being in the industry. No point being a director if I don’t get to work with Amitabh Bachchan. I was hoping to make a film called ‘Borivali’ with Sir. The film was set in the future and I was going off to London to meet this man called Charles Darby and see if he would consider working as an FX consultant on ‘Borivali’.
Just the day before I met a mad action director called Wiliam Ong from Malaysia who agreed to do the stunts for ‘Borivali’...
Ritesh and I left the coffee shop at Mariott thinking about what we had just agreed upon. At least I did... for all I know Ritesh could have been thinking about the huge bill he just footed. But I jest.. he never gave up on ‘Aladin’ and neither did I. We may have paused in between but we never stopped till ‘Aladin’ happened and I promise you.. you have never seen anything like this before…
(To be continued …)