For BHRAM An Illusion Trailer /Promo click here
For AN ILLUSION BHRAM Song Promos click here
On Location 'Bhram' slated for March 2008 release.
‘Film’ is an optical illusion. Life, an illusion as well... Maya. I like illusions…They help me survive. I like films more than I like life. Sometimes even when they don’t have a beginning, a middle and an end. I prefer ones that have a middle then a beginning again the middle and then the end..non linear.
I like films made by others more than my own. But then I don’t know if their makers intended them to turn out the way they finally happened to. Or did they like them better while they were still unborn… Yet in the stage of conception, holding promise of greatness, lovingly, carefully crafted, virgin, on clean sheets of white paper.
I like the films I make much more, before I begin making them. Then the problems set in and the energy that comes on, as if includes deception, which was neither envisaged, nor bargained for.. Finally when it’s all over, I stand back and observe the flaws and the imperfections along with the stuff I got right. Not so bad I say to myself. They resemble me. Far from perfect, but not without their strengths. Battle scarred, yet managing to hold their own in the face of countless assaults and oppositions.
I have no idea when it all began for me, but my earliest memories go back to about age eleven, when books I’d read, suddenly seemed to be moving images..the recollection of having turned pages, missing, yet the story having unfolded pictorially.
As a teenager my days were spent watching three shows a day, back to back, sometimes the same film if I liked it enough. When all the films in theatres were exhausted, the video library was my haunt.
My family had resigned itself to my bohemian ways and idiosyncrasies. Dad realized soon enough, that depriving me of films, watching or working, was as if denying me oxygen. He took me on as apprentice ( he had categorically stated that I had to begin from the lowest rung of the ladder and earn my way to the top) and I began practically living and sometimes even sleeping in studios.Always charged up..I could work non-stop for four days and nights without a bother.
Next step.. a ‘lowly’ Asstt.Director’, hungry for knowledge of the craft. I would ‘poke my nose’(as often referred to) in all departments of filmmaking, take on as many responsibilities as possible, handling jobs that normally required four people, and generally curious about any and everything that could accelerate my growth. The noisy, dusty studio environs and the smell of celluloid in film editing rooms, had become my life support.
Which is why it came as a rather pleasant surprise when at a music sitting recently, Pritam, my music director informed me that during his course at the Film and Television Institute Of India (FTII) one of their professors often quoted my work and spoke in detail of my films, shot taking and technique. An institution, quoting a self taught technician was humbling, to say the least.
Continuing with my days as an asstt.... Photography happened to me courtesy an ‘ace’ cinematographer (whom I don’t wish to name), who tried to discourage my interest in the subject, as he felt it did not concern me.
I had approached the ‘ace DOP’(Director of Photography) whom I greatly admired and put forward a query regarding the characteristics of the lens being used that day. He turned to look at me disdainfully as if I had stepped beyond my limits and dipped my hand into his pocket.. The scorn in his eyes and the sarcasm in his voice stung me, when he said ..“apna kaam karo, tumhaare bass ki baat nahin hai yeh !”
The Director joined in and remarked “ He is more interested in photography than he is in Direction”. I was so shattered by this comment that I decided I did not wish to work under a director who did not seem to understand that without camera there could be no story-teling, no movie and that the camera was a director’s tool, and if he did not learn everything there was to learn about it, he would never be able to use it effectively. Direction and cinematography… How could the two be divorced?
I walked out, determined to never again be dependant on another for knowledge of my craft. I bought a used still camera,from my savings and some books on photography and equipment for a dark room at home and began doing it myself.
Shoot in the day.. process and print at night. I was exhilarated.. felt totally in control, in that little dark room, watching the image as it formed and came to life exactly as the picture I had lit, shot, conceived.
I shot everything. Nature, cityscapes, portfolios industrial and fashion, with a passion. However the need to know if I was any good was overpowering. So, I prepared a portfolio of these pictures, summoned up courage and went to meet Mitter Bedi, world renowned photographer. After waiting outside for a good hour or so, I finally got to step into his office. I requested him to advise me. He took a long, hard look at all of the pictures, some repeatedly and finally said " Show me your bad pictures..these are excellent..cant improve on them"..Trying my best to hide my joy behind a stiff demeanour, I left from there for the first time having tasted appreciation for my work..wanted to throw out my arms up in the air very much like Shashi Kapoor had done in my Uncles film.Jab Jab Phool Khile and the song.."Oof Oh Khuda"..I was 21 and an adult now..a professional as well.
Soon after I began working for Vilas Bhende a renowned photographer to brush up on Fashion photography..I assisted him on shoots. On one such, I placed a net before a camera to reflect light a particular way on the product, and cut glare.. a trick I'd learnt from my film days. The effect pleased Vilas who said"Where were you all this while?" It felt good and encouraged me towards going deeper into study of this medium. I was called by the editor of 'Stardust" to be their fashion photographer after they saw the snaps in an actors portfolio..but I politely declined..I wanted to be a film maker..this was only a learning process...and also a means to buy the camera of my dreams F5Nikon.
One day while leafing through a magazine on photography, I saw an advertisement for Nikon, in which a model was shown posing before the camera. The view finder had been removed to show the image on the ground glass. The lens was a 50mm, The image on the ground glass showed a head and shoulder magnification. Apparently, all was perfect.. a great camera, a great model, a great picture.
But I noticed something terribly wrong. While the model was at a distance of about 5ft. the lens was focussed at infinity. Someone in the advertising had fucked up. I immediately cut out the ad and pointing out the mistake in a covering letter, mailed it to Nikon Japan… I had done my service to my favourite camera.. though I still did not own one.
I had forgotten all about the incident when about six months later I opened the door to see the postman holding a parcel for me. I was a little puzzled as to its contents since it was intricately packed. On opening it, I have no words to explain the feeling that engulfed me. Inside lay a brand new black Nikon F5.. a gift from the Nikon Company, with a letter of thanks acknowledging the faux pas I had pointed out.
I knew then a hundredfold strongly that my life was inextricably woven with a camera..Or was it.. with an illusion??
More on shooting and making of ‘Bhram- An Illusion’ in Part 2