Friday, November 24, 2006
Sunday, November 12, 2006
When we reached Kanakchauri for the first time, two large dogs greeted our jeep. Monty and Kallu belong to the village, and hang around the road near the entrance leading up to the steep climb up to the temple.
They were a frightening sight, but they greeted Aiman as if they were long-lost friends. Aiman bought them lots and lots of Glucose biscuits, and of course after that, they hung around Aiman all day.
In a few hours, the village kids got jealous at this desertion and ran away, calling out again and again "Kallu, Monty, Kallu, Monty." Reluctantly, the dogs followed their real owners, but were back the next day and the next, to meet Aiman.
Here, Aiman talks to Monty between shots.
Monday, November 06, 2006
How often I have thought, what is this madness that prompts you to make a film? I'm never going to even want to make a film again.
It's hard, when you are working with very little money, because you have to do most of everything on your own, even all the not-so-fun stuff, like couriering letters, filling up forms, photo-copying scripts and more tedious stuff like that.
But yesterday, when I went to the lab, to make my final payment, waiting outside near the car, for the negatives of the film to be delivered, I felt a rush of nostalgia already for the fun we'd had for the last year.
The truth was it was hardly ever any fun, while we were doing it, we were all working so hard, and exhausted most of the time. But, but... already the stories came back to my mind, and I started saying to Vivek, remember when .. remember when...
And when I came back home, the Mac had behaved impeccably well, and encoded a good DVD (it's harder than it sounds) and so, I felt finally, all's well that ends well.
And by evening, Vivek and I were sitting down and pontificating about how we'd do better the next time we are making a film. And already I'm thinking, what next, what next?
posted by Batul at 4:54 AM on Oct 14 2006
But this is a low-budget film, and I have no choice but to land up on location, and face the unit, all men, who look at me knowing I know nothing of football, nor anything about shooting the game. Twenty or more children, from the apartment block we are shooting, are at their morning best, creating a din, which makes it even harder for me to assume or pretend control. They kick around the ball, and go from one end of the garden to the other, and behave as if they've never played football before. The pathetic attempts I've made at a shot breakdown, curl up limply in my sweaty, terrified hands.
We have two hours to finish the shoot. Vivek's getting impatient, we are all yelling at each other to no effect, my assistant director goes off into silence nursing a cold. I go off to the loo, and have a secret cry, sure that everyone finds me ridiculous. I come back on location to find Aiman crying as well, for no real reason except she can feel my desperation.
I wonder why I ever wrote that football match into the script. We bung through the two hours, in a sort of stoic frenzied way. And trust to the editor to cover up the "absence" of the director.
I watch Germany and Argentina play for the World Cup, look at the tight circle of cameras around them, and keep thinking of how I could have handled my own football match better. I'm looking at the TV, but don't see Argentina make a goal.
Sometimes, you are so busy scratching your own backside, you miss the moment.
posted by Batul at 12:23 AM on Jul 01 2006
Vivek and Noorbhai at Rudraprayag, Garhwal.
The crew at Korlai beach, near Alibagh.
Hemanti has finished the rough cut. It's bliss to edit at home. After ages, my MAC behaved perfectly. Found out that all the trouble had been caused by a corrupt hard disc. And so many people had been going around in circles, trying to find the problem, loading and reloading again. Anyway.
After having given the DVDs to CFSI, there is a lull. Oh, these lulls. I hate not working, I really don't enjoy the emptiness of waking up, with nothing to do, the way Vivek seems to. I'd love more than anything else to be tearing around, stressed out, trying to manage a hundred things, and failing miserably. Instead, I have the calm of a not too busy director around me.
Satish has uploaded some photos from our shoot on Yahoo.
posted by Batul at 10:45 PM on Feb 14 2006
Suresh at Rudraprayag, with his head in the continuity book
Manoj at Forest Castle, Pune with his head in the costume trunk
Working on a low budget film, or rather, ultra low budget film has it's own postpartum glamor. On "Lilkee" most of us were working overtime, managing more than 2-3 departments. Manoj not only played seven cameo roles, but also helped me to write the script, rehearse with the children, and take care of their costumes on the shoot. Suresh was not only playing the main lead, but also taking care of continuity and background action. Vipin took care of sound and frayed tempers. Satish did the stills, and helped me with accounts, and production work. I discovered that my sister, Farida and sister-in-law, Farzana were excellent costume directors apart from being caretakers for the children. Vivek had to be the art director along with being the cinematographer. Aiman not only played her role to perfection, amidst conditions of extreme stress, but helped with choreography and make-up. And me, what did I do, amongst all this? It seems to me that my biggest strength has been the people around me, and my ability to pick their brains, their talent, and their hard work.
Looks like we are all working very hard indeed. But what better than a cat-nap to compensate for late nights, and all too early mornings?
Noorbhai, the camera attendant has handed over his duties to Raees.
But shooting a film there, was the loveliest way to reclaim the city as my own. Living in the old, rambling YMCA, in the middle of Quartergate, eating everyday at the places where we had eaten during family outings, for more than 25 years, and finding the people very, very Puneri inspite of the malls, the traffic, the flyovers. Afternoon siestas prevail, 2 km distances are the other end of the world, and one can still whiz around the city three times in a day.
Shooting at Forest Castle, Silver Woods, and Satellite Towers was another experience altogether. Mundhawa is far by any Puneri standard, but the buildings are beautiful, with a Japanese austerity. They look fantastic on screen.
The children performed very well, except one of the kids, who being supremely talented, is also a bit of a monster, and definitely under-performed. We who knew her so well during rehearsals, were disappointed, imagining what she could have done with a little more concentration.
Otherwise, the usual goof-ups that happen on low-budget shoots. After watching the telecine rushes yesterday, relieved that we haven't messed up, a little ashamed at the spots where one lost control, and which immediately shows on celluloid, and wishing for the luxury of re-shooting bits that need it.
Anyway, still recovering. And getting used to Mumbai all over again. The worst was coming from the Pune winter to the Mumbai sultry heat. Back again.
posted by Batul at 8:45 PM on Nov 24 2005
The trained actors are all right. The amateurs are OK too. It's the ones who've done a little bit that are the worst to handle, because they are set into patterns that are false, and they lack the experience to go beyond them.
Sometimes I feel as if I'm running on auto, there's no time even to be exhausted. Besides, after cribbing for years about being without work, I cannot even open my mouth a micro-centimeter to complain.
posted by Batul at 6:47 AM on Oct 06 2005
Today, when I have been commissioned by the Children's Film Society to make a film on a miniscule budget, I find myself back in action. I feel as if I have a place in this world, as if I have a voice again.
Work does lend one an inner confidence, which even money cannot. Or love. Atleast for me, work has always been an important factor of my life. Though in the way of most foolish females, I have often let relationships surmount me.
posted by Batul at 5:35 AM on Sep 15 2005
Today we had a first meeting between two lead actors, Nazneen and Suresh who are playing the roles of Bela and Tutu; Manik, Vivek's camera assistant, Manoj, my associate scriptwriter and assistant director, Vivek and myself. I read the script, and we had an initial discussion. Now that we are closing in on dates, there seems to be a huge amount of work, and little time and resources. We need a lot of action props that were going to be easy to manage if we were shooting in Challenger, in our own flat. Now that we have shifted the location to Pune, a lot of small little details will have to be worked out completely. I'm hoping that by involving people like Gauri who are based in Pune, I'll be able to manage more than budget permits.
The important job of a director seems to be to make everyone excited in the project, and give it their best.
And the most exciting moment, to hand out scripts that one has laboured on, in solitary confinement, for more than a year, and see words taking physical shape through the interpretations of others'.
posted by Batul at 9:17 PM on Sep 22 2005
25 Sep 05
Still struggling to find a location. When I wrote the script, I thought I was being smart, fitting my story into an apartment complex where I lived. I knew CFSI budgets were miniscule, and I wanted to make a film, which could be well-executed within the budget.
But the film took more than a year to happen, the apartment politics changed, and I am stranded without a location. And what was to be the easiest part of the shoot, right now seems to be the most difficult.
All my decisions, including secondary actors' casting, props, assistant directors, apart from the more mundane issues of hotels, food and transport are swinging around because of this uncertainty.
When I had my baby 12 years ago, what went forever was the arrogance of my youth. I learnt that one could not be anti-social if one wanted the best for one's baby. I learnt to be patient with all kinds of people, nurture relationships, selfishly for my kid. And it's the same with making a film. Once again, it's all about finding different languages to deal with different people.
The last two days have suddenly been turning points. Three days ago, Vivek gave me a long lecture on music and lyrics, and how I needed to put in more work. As usual, I defended myself by saying that my work process was internal, and that, one day I would be ready. He knows that, but does get exasperated by how vague I can be at times, and thus perhaps give the wrong impression to people who don't know me.
Perhaps it was the effect of his scolding, but I woke up in the morning, with part of the lyrics for the letter-writing song, written in my sleep. And once you have a springboard, it does not take long to launch off into space. We drove off to Revdanda beach for a recce, looking for a lighthouse. We found it a few kilometers ahead of Revdanda at Korle village. It is spectacular, an old fort, the sea, hills, a old world fishing village. At the base of the fort, while I waited for Vivek to finish taking his stills, I wrote the beach song, as well. I could not believe I had done it, as for a year, I had been proclaiming that I would need a professional lyrics writer, and I could not do it myself.
That's made me believe how powerful the mind is. Once I had done that, I could talk to my music director too very clearly about what I wanted, and what I hated. Now I feel sure that I'll get what I want, and not just accept what he thinks will be nice.
posted by Batul at 10:31 AM on Sep 29 2005
The trouble is I'm not feeling elated, or anything. So many years of waiting has dulled my nerves. And I've still to realize that yes, I am making the film.
posted by Batul at 12:12 AM on Aug 19 2005