Thoughts and other trivia...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Whether (?) report

If I didn't know better, I'd say that Bombay isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Because, in the last three months or so that I was away, I can't say that I had the greatest time there. Except for those occasional bits of relief, I doubt I'll ever remember this trip with any degree of fondness. Because, for most part, it was quite miserable and lousy. Four trips to Pune didn't do much for me either. It must have been for the first time in my life, therefore, that I didn't quite mind returning to Delhi.

Anyway, the first episode of the television series we are working on is close to being approved. We're waiting for the decision to be formally communicated to us. Maybe I should rephrase this a bit...we think we're almost there but, around me, you can always expect a twist in the tail. But, more of this in a bit.

I might have likened this project, and the last few months, to a roller coaster ride, except that, unlike the latter, the distribution of highs and lows during this time has hardly been equitable. Okay, maybe I'm being a little dramatic here but you know what I mean! In a post long ago, I had written about this new approach in life I was going to adopt - the feck it approach. But, guess who got fecked! That, however, will serve as fodder for a bitter post some time soon :-)

Back to the TV series...what we've submitted to the channel is a rough cut. As the term suggests, at the rough cut stage, a film does not include all the elements of a finished product. Usually, it will not include music, high-end graphics, animation and the final voiceover, etc.

This is the third rough cut that we've worked out...because, obviously, they weren't happy with the first two edits. The first edit was pretty much based on the approved script and the "script-flow" document that the monkey from the channel was so adamant about. But, in the end, that document doesn't seem to be anything more than a useless bureaucratic procedure, although I'm sure it'll have to be followed for the next twelve episodes as well. (This is what I meant by pencil-pushing SoB in my last post!) Anyway, after watching the first cut, they told us that we should shift the focus of the film. Admittedly, at that point in time, the film was a bit loose and needed some fine-tuning but to be asked to shift focus, after the film had been shot, was a rude shock. What it also confirmed is that these guys are unable to visualise the script you hand in and which they then sit in judgement over. Because, if they could visualise it, either they would tell you at that stage, before you start shooting, that the script is not exciting or whatever the crap they think is wrong with it. Or, they wouldn't find fault with what you've shot because that's done on the basis of the damned approved script!

Anyway, on the basis of their suggestions, then, we worked out the second cut. And, truth be told, it was awful! Clearly, our hearts were not in it and, maybe subconsciously, we were only intent on giving them what they had specifically asked for...unmindful of how it was coming together, if at all. Expectedly, they didn't like it and told us quite bluntly that the film was simply unwatchable. That's not the sort of thing you like to hear but, hell, it was true. I had a long chat with the VP of the channel (thankfully, I haven't had to deal with the monkey lately), during which he had the good grace to admit that a fair bit of the second cut was based on their own suggestions. After this discussion we worked out the third cut, in which we've adopted a slightly more direct approach. The film now has a good, rounded feel to it and flows quite seamlessly. The best indication that this cut works well is that, after watching it, you don't feel as though you've just sat through a 23-minute film. At least that's how I feel.

We showed the film to the VP a few days ago and, thankfully, he liked it too. Of course, he had a couple of concerns, suggestions and ideas, which we'll be more than glad to address. But, basically, he told us that he is happy with it. Now, we're waiting for the official "feedback", after which I'll be going back to Bombay for the rest of the post-production work.

A few days after this presentation, when I was returning to Delhi, I was all prepped-up for a couple of fights...with two different people...and, of course, both of these fights were going to be very short, very one-sided and very bloody affairs. The first of these was to be with the producer of our show, a man who has been described, by many, as the devil himself. The trouble with him is that, although he is a decent sort, he's a little full of himself and loves the sound of his own voice. I won't say that he's stupid, because he is not, but he can often be annoyingly silly. Anybody who reads his articles in the Sunday papers will readily confirm this. Although he's on television almost every day of the week, he seems to have no understanding of the process of making television shows and films...not exactly the sterling quality you'll look for in a producer, is it? He's decent, he's honest, he's straightforward and he's not petty, which is more than what I can say for over ninety-nine per cent of the people I've had any dealing with in my line of work. And, for that, I'm thankful...but, sometimes, unfortunately, even gratitude has a short shelf life. Even during the long and painful period that preceded the formal commissioning of the show, right up to the shoot in Alibaug, on various occasions, he has proved to be a pain up the backside. The only real work he has done so far is to negotiate the contract with the channel. Of course, he also shoots his mouth off all the time and writes silly mails. And, it was one such silly mail that got my goat and filled me up with killer instinct.

Let's just say that, in itself, the mail is harmless. It was a piece of internal communication, between him and us, and that's how it should've stayed. But, unfortunately, our man marked copies to the blighters from the channel as well. Now, just why would anyone do something like that? When I got back to Delhi and asked him about the mail, and told him how it had upset us, it was literally as though a light had suddenly come on in his head and he immediately realised what consequences his "well-intentioned" brainwave can have. Short of apologising (because that would be too much for him), he explained his reasons and, although I don't agree with his reasons, I don't doubt his intentions. Either way, that doesn't help because, I think, the damage has already been done...which is why it is taking the channel so long to give us the formal go ahead. But, let me not go down that road yet. I have to meet the channel folks in a couple of days...we'll find out soon whether the approval is coming through now or whether we need to do some more work before we get it.

As you'd expect, by now, this film is starting to come out of my ears!

Moving on...the MAMI Film Festival is coming up in Bombay, from March 8-15. But, the way things are unfolding here, it's almost certain that I'm going to miss, at least, the first couple of days of the festival...and, that's not such a happy thought. Like the Asian Film Festival late last year, the MAMI is also going to clash with our work schedule but, then, we know which of the two is more important and will get precedence :-)

One of the rare bright spots during my long trip was when I went with my Pune friend to this absolutely wonderful place, the Mulshi Dam area and Tamahini, about 70-odd kilometres away from Pune. He has been looking for some land and, on one of my trips, one day, I went with him to look up a plot that someone had recommended. The hills on both sides and a large-ish lake make this a stunning location. I have to confess, the place just took my breath away. I remember sending a message to a friend, saying that the place is to die for! Anyway, we got off the main road, on to a dirt track, and drove for another two or three kilometres further in. There was hardly any sound anywhere and, when we spoke, we found ourselves talking in hushed tones...almost as though talking loudly would be a sacrilege. Maybe I'm overreacting...I don't know. But, I loved what I saw and I hope I can go back there again. Soon. And, the next time, I plan to take my camera along.

The last few months may not otherwise add up to a great trip...for most part, it wasn't...but, of course, there was some good stuff too. Either way, a lot of it was quite eventful...starting right from the journey to Bombay, which also featured a few top fashion models, including this really nice one, who flashed a smile at me...then, there was this great drama associated with my friend's move from Bandra to a lovely flat in Juhu, which we had to break our backs to clean...then, at my friend's son's sports meet in his school in Pune, there were these kids with names like Adelaide (a boy!), Durban and Stallion...then, there was this really obnoxious woman on my Pune-Bombay bus, whom I would've liked very much to whack on the head because, besides embarrassing her poor boyfriend by loudly asking him if he had brushed his teeth, she was very vocal about "smelly people" and how such people should "use deos". Yet, when the bus stopped for a short break at a food court on the Expressway, she promptly came back smelling of raw onions on her breath...about wandering aimlessly on the streets in Bombay and Pune...about sitting in a bookshop called Landmark, in Pune, and reading a whole book about Martin Scorsese...about visits to this dentist in Pune, who sings girlie songs in falsetto while he fiddles around in your mouth...about meeting a blogger a couple of times in Bombay and, over time, becoming good friends...about not being able to meet the second blogger and a third one who couldn't meet because of...what did he say..."a crazy schedule", was it? :-)

Generally, the world's not such a happy place at the moment. A lot of it, I know, has to do with this television project, which is taking forever and a bit and, in the process, not allowing any time or room for anything else. It's like I said to a friend one day, what I would really like is to start get away from everyone and everything I know and to make a complete break. Of course, this is only a passing phase but, trouble is, it's taking a long time to pass :-) and just that I need to take some really hard decisions...quickly.

As Dylan says, people are crazy and times are strange...I used to care but things have changed.

Finally, before I end the very long post, let me plug this website that a couple of my friends have just launched. If you're interested in yoga, organic food and healthy living, traditional beauty treatments :-) and suchlike, please visit


Blogger Ricercar said...

hmmm. i have always had mixed feelings about bombay

4:50 am  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

you should post more frequently -- release the steam in littler bits!

9:15 am  
Blogger km said...

LOL@ little streams.

Well, sometimes you gotta drink straight from the hose, man.

9:35 am  
Blogger Blue Athena said...

Ah, have faith. :)

Yes, should vent more often.

10:52 am  
Blogger Sonia said...

heh! you actually believe you have a " killer instinct"!?


6:22 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

RICERCAR: Actually, no mixed feelings about Bombay for me...just a one-off thing, this trip...I think

TR: Okay :-) I'm going to release a little bit of steam here then - The Good Shepherd, Volver, Havana File...these are just three of the films I'll be missing on day one of the MAMI! Can you imagine how many more there will be in the week-long festival?

KM: See, see, this is what I meant by wishful thinking (or Freudian slip, take your pick). Little streams, it seems! :-)

7:22 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

BLUE ATHENA: Faith? I think I may have already overdrawn :-)

SONIA: Don't say you weren't warned...don't be complaining later! :-)

7:26 pm  
Blogger MockTurtle said...

I hear you regarding starting over and making a complete break. I think everyone should do that every decade or so; keeps those synapses firing.

8:15 pm  
Blogger km said...

Dear MT:

what synapses?


8:42 pm  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

but at least it got you blogging again :)

11:28 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

MT: You make it sound like a fun thing to do :-)

KM: I think MT might be very sensitive about any mention of the word "decade" :-)

M (TREAD SOFTLY UPON): :-) Yes, and what will it take for you to start again? We're waiting...

1:23 am  
Blogger dry, sweet and very very stormy said...

you're probably the only blogger whose ultra-long posts i completely read :)

1:04 am  
Blogger Szerelem said...

So you are finally back!
And Im witht TR. More posts. Littler bits.

6:40 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

DRY, SWEET AND VERY VERY STORMY: And, you're so very welcome here :-)

Does this mean you've been here before?

SZERELEM: Yeah, back...for a bit. About long posts...sadly, I'm a creature of habit :-)

1:06 am  
Anonymous driftwood said...

Hmmm. That was for the sheer length of the post. You and I haven't heard of brevity, huh?

:-) will be back to comment.

10:01 pm  
Anonymous driftwood said...

Hmmmmmmmmmm. So lots have happened. Now I can forgive you for having disappeared on me :-).

Sticking to your guns feels good, no? Like Churchill said - "You have enemies? Good. It means that you have stood up for something, sometime in your life."

It's come this far, it's gonna go a long way, experience has taught me that. And when that happens, we'll cheer silently from the bloglines, we promise :-).

I enjoy reading you, Ghost.

10:06 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

DRIFTWOOD: Brevity? Duh, what's that? Watch out for the next post! :-)

I don't know about sticking to my guns and standing up for what I believe in...just that I've been standing for too damned long! I need to sit down. NOW! :-)

But, seriously, thanks :-)

7:10 pm  
Blogger austere said...

Good luck. Dyou suppose using a polished bhadralok manner and look would help with the gentleman in question?

11:46 am  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

AUSTERE: Oh, nothing works with the gent. Many better than I have tried and fallen by the wayside :-)

6:49 pm  

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