The Vishwaroop Darshan of Film-making

My readers have been wondering where I have been for the past so many days, and why there have been no posts for a long time. My profuse apologies, but I must admit that I was busy in something more important. Well, not more important as such, but something that kept me busy. I was helping my friend Swami make a film.

Well, as everyone knows, making a film is no easy matter. It needs a story (that’s what I felt till I ventured on this path!), and that’s what I was writing.

vishwaroopSo I was writing a story for my friend Swami’s film.

The story took all of November and December and finally was ready for shooting in early January. Swami was happy with the story, but needed a financier for the movie. Like most film-makers, he had to find some producer to finance the movie.

So during our January coffee session, Swami spoke to my broker friend Jigneshbhai that he had a film with a story ready, and needed someone to finance it. Jigneshbhai thought about it for a while. We thought that among all his wealthy clients, at least someone would finance it, if he put in a word. Even before we had finished our coffee, Jigneshbhai said that he could have us meet the wealthy man in the sprawling bungalow to check if he was willing to fund it.

So there we were last Sunday. Swami and I with our thick, bound script all set to meet the wealthy man in his sprawling bungalow along with Jigneshbhai.

As he came down to have a chat with us, Swami was getting ready to start narrating the script. But the wealthy man in the sprawling bungalow stopped him mid-sentence.

“I don’t want a villain from the minority communities” he started. Swami quickly made a note, and smiling at his future financier, he said, “No sir, the religion of our villain is flexible.”

The wealthy man looked happy. “Good – hope there are no terrorists in the film.”

“And I cannot finance any historical film – what if some community says that their history is not correctly portrayed?” the wealthy man continued. Still maintaining his smiling face, Swami said, “No sir, no violence, no history.”

“And I don’t finance science fiction movies. They are like technology stocks. Unclear business model, too expensive and don’t work. Low Return on Equity.”

“No sir – it is not a sci-fi movie. It is a family movie.”

“Ok – good. Family films are fine. By the way, in that case, there should be no widows, no words like ‘mochi’, ‘sunar’, ‘lohaar’, hajaam’ that can hurt someone, also no gay heroes or heroines or characters. No South Indian, North Indian stereotypes” he insisted.

The smile on Swami’s face was evaporating quite fast, almost at the pace of the wealthy man’s instructions. He was starting to get a bit impatient to narrate the script, but was now checking if the list of characters mentioned were present in the plot.

But the wealthy man was not finished. “And if there are any prayer scenes, make sure the priests – whatever their religion – are not insulted. No one – even if he is the hero – should curse any priests, or for that matter, insult any elders.”

“Ok sir” Swami politely said, by now, resigned to his fate as a film-maker.

“And by the way, in the costumes, avoid saffron, green or white. And may be blue also. You know, these are national colours.”

This was turning out to be a soliloquy. Swami and I were prepared for a one-way narration of the script, but this was a one-way instruction from the wealthy man on how not to make a film. But I guess, we were rookies, and he was experienced. While our enthusiasm waned, the wealthy man continued.

“See you may get discouraged. But like one learns from experience in everything, I have made a checklist for elimination of projects for funding based on my experience in this area.”

“I hope you have the other standard exclusions already factored in.”

Swami and I looked at each other and then at Jigneshbhai. The wealthy man realised that we did not know.

“Well, the hero or even a shady character should not smoke on-screen, or even in public. No animals should be harmed during the movie – even if it is a pet. No expletives on screen. No spanking or shouting at children on screen too nowadays, I have heard.”

“Ok sir” Swami noted, not quite sure why he was noting them.

“Ok great, one last thing, you know things that you need to take care” the wealthy man continued. “When you cast someone, make sure the hero is not an activist and does not say anything controversial till one week after the movie is released, and that the heroine does not get married or pregnant till then.”

Swami and I looked at each other, wondering how we will ensure that. In any case, it was a bit far-fetched given that the hearing of our script had not yet started.

Meanwhile, the wealthy man continued. “And you must have an item song. If something happens before release, at least we will recover the costs from the music.”

“And I hope you don’t want to give any complex, social messages.I have realised that in investing in films, it is similar to investing in businesses. They should be simple.”

By now, Swami and I were drowned under the barrage of instructions from the wealthy man in the sprawling bungalow. We had heard that he generally spoke little and that too, he was cryptic when he spoke. But this was a lot of talk, and everything was loud and clear.

Finally, as we left his house, he encouraged us. “Don’t worry, you will get it right.”

So here we were – back from our first and last discussion on making a film. Swami decided to get back to his job, and I to mine.

Finally, I saw that writing a film was not my cup of tea, specially for a hobby writer like me. So here I am again. All that I will attempt to write from now on is articles on this blog. That hopefully not many will read. And fewer will protest against.

5 Responses to The Vishwaroop Darshan of Film-making

  1. Anonymous says:

    Good one Ranjit!!
    Nice illustration of the political correctness gone extreme – very common today.

    Prashant

  2. drnsg says:

    Very good . Nice to see your blog after long time. Keep writing. You have enough material provided by surroundings. Salman Rushdie,Pritish Nandi,Hassan caused tremors this month.Marathi movie ‘Dewool’ faced similar problem.

  3. Anonymous says:

    nice one buddy !

  4. Anonymous says:

    nice on buddy
    – rajesh v

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