Camera, ( No) Lights, Action!

It’s a contrasting view of the world from the lens of a Camera. For that matter, every lens, natural or man-made, has a different point of view. Like in photography, you see things sometimes, in bad light. You make adjustments to get the picture right.

You can focus, cut off the interfering elements in the background and play with the shadows and light to make the image intriguing. I used to like still Photography till I graduated into Cinematography. I am clumsy in handling Cameras but I guess, I could frame the vision a little better than others. Prakash my Guru would like me to have more Key and Fill lights but I choose shadows- light is an exception, surrounding darkness is the rule.

Watching movies intensely did not make me a good filmmaker. It of course, helped me upset my family who liked to watch them in silence without my surround sound of running commentary on how the shot should have been framed.

My profession, Insurance did not tax the left side of my brain much. The creativity of film making appealed to the right side of my mind and soul. I began learning the craft with the rigor of an Andhra student preparing for the IIT Entrance Test.

That I worked in the financial services industry naturally helped me- the art of storytelling, I guess an Insurance agent could teach a thing or two to Bollywood. Intrigue, fantasy and fiction were natural ingredients in the work of some Actuaries; I could use them a little in the scripts I tried producing at a faintly faster frequency, than an average product approval time in the industry.

Besides Insurance, I believe filmmaking is the ultimate test of proficiency of multiple disciplines- Arts, Science and Commerce. I try presenting here some of my experiments, a perspiring CEO morphing into an aspiring Film Maker, on my Takes & Mis-takes behind the Camera.

The flight from Kolkata landed late evening, I was returning from our Bored Meeting at Ganga Kutir, my wife and daughter who joined me on the trip had some exciting time when they saw Gauri Khan and her Children on our flight. They came to join Sharukh Khan at the ongoing IPL event.  Meeting the First Lady of Bollywood helped me reflect on the work I had picked up for myself. I didn’t want to be late for my first appointment, without even changing, I went straight from Airport to Office.

It was my first session as a Film Director with professional cast; I was understandably nervous. I scripted <em style=”font-weight: inherit;”>Jiyo Khiladi</em> – a story on India’s World Cup win as a motivational film for our team dealing with bancassurance. To add spice to the film, we hired professional talent who were cast along with budding artists from IndiaFirst. The three disturbingly beautiful ladies- Debi Dutta, Priyadarshini and Anchal Singh did not help my sweaty palms or jittery nerves.

It’s one thing to manage the agents and employees activate in an Insurance company and it’s a different matter to get the film crew and cast to start work. Our office area looked like a mini production set, the ladies were very keen to get their best looks made up, they naturally didn’t want to take chances with their unknown Director, so spent extra hours with the Make Up Artist to help them look good on the screen.

Punctuality’s a casualty in film industry. I came on dot rushing from the Airport. Others were too leisurely with their maneuvers. Finally, I lost my cool and growled at them in my natural style to show who’s the boss. They all ran to the shoot instantly recognizing my elevated adrenalin.

My first shot on Debi was when she’d get down from the car and the office crowd at the Tea stall would stare at her. It sort of reminded me of my college days when we’d all park ourselves on the bikes and watch the glam dolls pass by. A few butterflies would flutter then, when a known face would saunter and look back at me exactly after ten paces. I was trying to recreate what it would be like for the younger lot, when a bombshell would get down from her car and ask for something.

Prakash, the photographer was ready with his jimmy jib shot, the monitors set up, “lights, sound.. Action! I shouted. Oops, no lights. What happened?

The connecting wire from the office on 3<sup style=”font-style: inherit; font-weight: inherit;”>rd</sup> floor did not reach the plug point. It’s nearly symbolic, connecting wires in many corporate offices miss the point. Somebody misjudged the distance so the power did not come to the lights; it’s a silly thing no one checked the distance before the Director Saheb arrived. I was frustrated, we had to fetch someone to get a longer wire, the whole crew disengaged, it was by then very late for dinner, so we took the food break; by the time we reassembled for the shoot, it’s past midnight.

I asked my driver to take my car out, get Debby inside and drive slowly towards the pan shop, I told Prakash to capture the establishing shot as Debby arrived in her black car and gave them all the looks.

The take’s good but the mistake was I got carried away by my amateurism. Camera lingered  longer on the scene, moments were slow, needlessly stretched and the jerk of jimmy jib to capture the scene in 360 degrees angle, was irksome to the eye.

But this was my first sequence with Debi, Priya and Anchal all professional Bollywood actresses. So I cherished this sequence to mention it in my blog on Takes &amp; Mistakes.

On the next day was the water cooler scene, Anchal finds the moment of truth with Dev. It was his first schedule before the camera but he’s getting into the skin of his role faster. Anchal did a perfect take, we captured the wounded look of her in an instant. The dialogue of Anchal resonate in my mind, as I get to move away from IndiaFirst, my first love for so many years.

Post Script: Jiyo Khiladi ran to packed houses ( in our training halls of course). Priya moved to NY to become a pop singer. Anchal became famous acting in many films including a few from Srilanka. Debi continued to allure with her deadly roles and item numbers. I remained in the Insurance Industry moving between light and shadows.


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