Thoughts and other trivia...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Up S. Creek without a paddle...and back!

The trip to Bombay was bloody hectic. In fact, things were so busy that almost every moment of my time there was spent in Bandra, working in my friend's house. In the two-odd weeks that I was there, the only time I really went out was on the day of the shoot, when we were leaving for Alibaug. Hmm, that brings back memories of my first few trips ever to Bombay, when all my time was spent in Chembur.

Anyway, moving on, I don't know how to describe the shooting experience...the shoot itself turned out fine and, I'd say, we got 80-85 percent of what we had planned. Which is good enough. But, everything around it was a bit of a fiasco and, as they say, everything that had even the smallest chance of going wrong, did go wrong.

There are two aspects in the process of shooting a film/TV series, creative and production. It is the production department that is responsible for making all the arrangements for everything...personnel, equipment, travel, hotel, food, properties for the shoot and suchlike. Under normal circumstances, my friend and I, who make up the creative department, needn't have bothered about anything else except our work, which is to write the script and direct the show. But circumstances are never normal, are they? For various reasons, then, besides our own work, we also had to do a lot of the production department's work and solve the many tangles that the production was getting caught up with. As a result, we didn't get enough time to concentrate on our work, which we only barely managed to finish on the night before the shoot.

While we were on our way to Alibaug, I must say I was quite nervous. Not only was I unsure about the various arrangements being in place, I was also worried because we were actually starting one day ahead of schedule. Normally, starting ahead of schedule is a good thing, even suggesting how much one is in control of the situation. In our case, however, we had to start before the planned date simply because were forced to...it's not as though we had a choice! And, you'll agree that, being thrown off the deep end, especially when you're not ready, can get a person worried. And, so, I was a little concerned.

Our crew had 21 people. (When the project was still on paper, the channel people insisted that we have no more than 7 people on board...just which world do these idiots live in?) Because we wanted some shots of the Gateway of India, the water and of the arrival in Alibaug, five of us, including the cameraman, decided to go by the ferry. We sent off the rest of the people and equipment by road. They were made to leave at 7 a.m. so that they could get there early, by 10 or so, giving us enough time to shoot for the rest of the day. While we did our part of the job and reached the location in Alibaug by 9.30, there was no sign of the rest of the crew. So, not wanting to waste any time, we started to shoot whatever it was possible for us to shoot without the lights and the rest of the stuff. This obviously meant that the carefully prepared plan for the shoot - which included major exterior/daylight sequences, talking portions and crane shots, etc. - went for an unholy toss and we had to work with whatever came to mind and was easily available.

With only tea and cigarettes for nourishment, followed by a hastily arranged but late and lousy, lousy breakfast, we kept shooting till after 1, which is when the crew arrived. We shot some more, till about 2.30 or so, and broke for lunch. While lunch itself was quite good, thanks to our bumbling production team, who hadn't given enough notice to the caterer, we lost almost two hours there, literally watching our meal being put together. By the time we were ready to shoot again, it was past 4 in the evening. As luck would have it, the light started to fade quickly because the sky, which had had a light cloud cover all day, started to darken. This meant that we couldn't shoot the exterior/outside portions for as long as we would've liked to. Then, for various reasons, the night sequence, which was shot in an open courtyard, turned out to be a complete disaster...totally unsalvageable. In fact, I don't think we even got 50 percent of what we had planned for that sequence. Yup, it was one of those really bad days...well, maybe not bad but certainly one of those days when you're really up against it.

We got back to the hotel after midnight and, slightly panic-stricken, immediately got down to reworking the whole shoot plan. Quite apart from the way the day had unfolded, we were still trying to come to terms with the fact that the location had changed so much from the time we'd been there last. And, because the place had changed so much, we were having to abandon a whole lot of shots that we had planned...because they were just not possible now! But, what was the probably the biggest shock of all was the fact that, when we reached Alibaug, we found that the protagonists were now putting an entirely different spin on what they had projected as their story the first time over. This meant that the very premise that we'd based our entire script on had now suddenly collapsed. To make things even worse, the monkey from the channel landed on location at the end of the second day of shoot. Suffice it to say that it was exactly a man like him that Clint Eastwood had once called (in one of those Dirty Harry films) a pencil-pushing SoB...the type that is better known in India as the babu. Really, people like him are sullying the good name of the channel, which, otherwise, has such a fantastic reputation all over the world.

Anyway, to cut the very long and frustrating story short, we shot for 15-17 hours on each of the three shoot days. There were plenty of hassles, there was plenty of stuff we couldn't get but, overall, I think it worked out okay. In fact, some of the stuff we've got is quite fantastic, even better than what we expected. Purely in terms of what is known as the look, I know, we'll be just fine. We'll soon also find out how the rest of it comes together during post-production, when we start editing early next week.

Just as I'm about to leave for Bombay in a few hours, for the edit, I have mixed feelings about this whole experience. It's funny how, sometimes, people and things can squeeze the last bit of joy out of the one thing you've been looking forward to for so long. Life is unfair, I know, but I'd still like to crib about how many wrong people are in the wrong jobs, holding positions they have no business occupying and how they're still being commissioned to execute projects they know nothing about, in conditions that are completely alien to them. Anyway, there's little one can do about this, right?

Finally, I remember, it was on December 2, a long time ago, that I shifted back to Delhi from Bombay. Funny, now I'm going back to Bombay on the same date. Maybe it's a sign of some sort. Perhaps it's time to take care of some unfinished business, right?


44 Comments:

Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

In fact, some of the stuff we've got is quite fantastic, even better than what we expected.

Should be good to maunkey around with, eh? :-D

9:16 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In fact, some of the stuff we've got is quite fantastic, even better than what we expected.

Should be good to maunkey around with, eh? :-Dkey around with, eh? :-D

9:20 am  
Blogger Sonia said...

tea and CIGARETTES?!

dude, i didn't know you smoked!

and unfinished business..... hmmmmm...i WONDER what that could be! (dunno if you can sense the heavvvy sarcasm)

1:34 pm  
Blogger sattva said...

finishing unfinished business...i think NOTHING makes me feel lighter than doing that. it's the preamble to it that's unbearable :)

have fun with the post-production, and enjoy bombay.

4:45 pm  
Blogger Enemy of the Republic said...

How ya doing?

3:06 am  
Blogger kundalini said...

good luck. :)

5:44 pm  
Blogger MockTurtle said...

I hope that unfinished business isn't what I think it is.
Good luck with everything.

11:34 pm  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

....and ur template's changed :)

8:36 pm  
Blogger austere said...

ok ok, great light (some), the fantastic shots and the template change have been commented upon. how abt a gali in code for the hero types.

good luck with the edit. touchwood and all that.

9:01 pm  
Blogger Sonia said...

ok, now ure just being lazy, you have time for spider solitaire, but no time to update??!

11:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Travel Websites stuff. Devices, reviews, services...

8:58 am  
Blogger zelekah said...

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5:29 am  
Blogger Cocaine Jesus said...

sounds bloody hectic but fun!

6:42 pm  
Blogger Enemy of the Republic said...

Like the new look. Wow, you are working like hell.

9:20 am  
Blogger nss said...

I know several other readers that will love this blog. Hey man you have a really insane blog here. Perhaps you will find my blog about Family Travel interesting.

12:28 pm  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

where are you?

9:04 pm  
Anonymous gel said...

Hi!
I like the new airy look here.
I'm glad the kinks for your production are being worked out, but I wish there was far less frustration along the way.
You have a superbly optimistic attitude.

Ironic that is is the same date!
(I can't remember if I used to sign blogposts here as "SivermOOn", but I'm using my older blog name of "gel" now)

4:07 pm  
Anonymous Ph said...

Happy New Year.

4:26 am  
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2:36 pm  
Blogger Cocaine Jesus said...

unfinished business like this blog site, right?

10:19 pm  
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11:08 pm  
Blogger Ricercar said...

where are you! must be really busy to hav abandoned us like this :(

lol

hope all is going well. all the best!

12:50 am  
Blogger Sonia said...

AND SOME PEOPLE SAY THEY HAVE SO MUCH TIME ON THEIR HANDS THAT THEY SMOKE FOR LACK OF SOMETHING TO DO!

4:10 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:38 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

TR: Guess who got :-Dkeyed around with? :-)


SONIA: See, that's the trouble with me...I can *never* get the subtleties, you know, stuff like sarcasm :-)

Smoke? Me? Wonder where you got that from? :-)


SATTVA: Howdy! :-)

Nah, that business is still unfinished and best for it to stay that way. "Nah" to the second as well...didn't enjoy Bombay as much this time.


ENEMY OF THE REPUBLIC: Hi there. I'm doing well, I think :-) About the new look of the blog, yeah, I quite like it myself.


KUNDALINI: Thanks :-)

12:41 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

MOCK TURTLE: Hi! I don't know what you think it is ;-) but status quo rules!


M(TREAD SOFTLY UPON): Hi there! Yeah, template has changed and I quite like it too :-)

Got caught up with work and plenty of other nonsense :-)


AUSTERE: Why in code? And, why for the hero? It's the monkey from the channel who should get the uncoded - and choicest - gaalis :-)


SONIA: Spider Solitaire? What're you talking about, Miss? :-) And, who's feeding you this wrong information? First it was smoking, now Solitaire...you're ruining my rep! ;-)

12:50 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

COCAINE JESUS: Hi there CJ! Yup, was quite hectic, at times, but a lot of it was crappy too :-)

We'll see if the blog can get moving again soon :-)


GEL: Hi! Thanks, I like the look too :-) Optimistic? Me? Really, I've never been accused of being that? :-)


PH: Hi, thanks...to you too :-)


RICERCAR: Ok, the plan to abandon has been nixed :-) Thanks for stopping by!


SONIA: Ah, the ruiner of my pristine reputation is back! :-)

And, who might these "people" be? ;-)

12:56 pm  
Blogger austere said...

"the blog will get moving soon"- ah, so he says.
good good.

10:14 am  
Blogger Ricercar said...

Good! Thank God! :) Good to hear from you again. Ok - I started out as Ricercar and then changed to the other place. With the new labels in blogger I wanted to integrate the 2 blogs and this one had more posts from before, so i moved that blog's stuff here. makes sense :)

1:23 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

AUSTERE: Ah, don't believe him...he says a lot of things :-)



RICERCAR: Good to hear from you again too! :-)

And, yes, makes sense :-)

11:36 am  
Anonymous raghu ram prasad said...

very nice post u published..visit me also

6:02 pm  

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