Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh Feb 1, 2011 Tue 10:44 PM
I have to say this, that no matter how hard I may try to write my post earlier than the usual time, I have failed. Failed not because of time constraints, or other circumstances, but somehow the desire and the quality of the writing has been willed to, an end of day syndrome. Its when everything is done and over, when all else is not important, when I am alone with my thoughts on my extended family - that is when it invariably provokes me to push a few words. I know that I have transgressed a few times and have come in earlier than usual, but somehow the feel required has been missing.
To support my argument, I did try it today in all honesty, because I wanted to get over it and concentrate the rest of the evening towards my work to be done tomorrow. But no. It did not happen. And so I am taking precedence over my preparation for tomorrow and getting down to doing what I have enjoyed most during the past 1018 days !
One of the most difficult moments for an actor when he or she faces the camera is not to know that they are facing one. To not know that you are being recorded for posterity. To be oblivious to the gadgetry and the process that unfolds in front of you as you live the moment in cinema. Cameras and stands and lights and intricate cranes and jimmy jibs and trolleys and people making notes and focus pullers concentrating on distances, still photographers shooting their own little moments to be used as publicity or design or for record. Nowadays, an additional unit with video camera facilities, recording makings of each shot and its process, all to be used as an additional later perhaps when the publicity starts, or for the making of the DvD of the film. Assistants moving around frantically, making copious notes for continuity and reference to be used by the laboratory when the exposed film goes in for printing. Others managing, or as this generation calls it, ‘locking’ in the shot, making sure no bystanders or crowd come into frame. An arduous task and one that is most demanding, for, it requires various amounts of managerial skills apart from basic knowledge of film. They need to check first with the director what the composition of the shot would be, then check with the director of photography if they could be allowed to have a visual of the composed frame so they can decipher what parts of the visual needs to be addressed with respect to crowd clearance and movement. Having done that they need to place production assistants at various vantage points to make sure traffic, people, personnel all are either blocked or regulated for the ongoing shot. Public management is an entire exercise by itself. There should really be formal education on this process. No single individual is alike in situations such as this. There are those in the mass that collect, that have come to ’see’ what a shoot looks like - to be able to see their favorite star perform live. There are those that may have just stopped out of curiosity and lounge about aimlessly. There are those who are interested, but would rather give preference to the work they were on than the film that unfolds in front of them. They according to me are the most difficult to handle. They need to get on with their work, to move if they are in a vehicle, to keep walking to an office or destination they were on. These are the ones that require very cautious and mature handling. Gentle words, folded hands, fervent requests to oblige are most common requirements from the assistant on duty. Most of the time they cooperate. Most of the time do not. The involved person demands his right. Why would he stop or wait until the shot, which is not his or her doing, requires him to. And often they revolt. They do not care whether the shot will get destroyed or not, they just carry on doing what they had set out to do in the first place. The production assistant that has been assigned the job of shutting off the frame is now being badgered by the director for failing in his or her job. With a mike in their hands and speakers placed, of very large amplification at various vantage points, so he can be heard by every department, the director in his creative frustration, uses some of the choicest adjectives in describing to the rest of the world, what he thinks of the assistant, or the inefficiency and in his view the disrespect the public shows to the work in process. Repeats, either due to wrong or erroneous camera movement, artist muffing lines or inadequately performing, add to the anguish of the assistant, because he has to deal with that impatient car owner who has been stopped in his tracks for no fault of his, forcefully. Until the director gives a final okay, he or now in most cases a she, lives in fear of being almost assaulted !
Its a tough life for most of them. They are the first on set and the last to leave and not a single acknowledgment from anyone. When the credits roll in the end of the film, their names appear in almost illegible print and the scroll moves so fast it is difficult to register anything.
But you know … many of them have risen from these surroundings and conditions to become some of the greatest directors of the country. Catch any of the greats and you will find, a history of similar circumstances in their lives.
Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam were assisstants to Sanjay Leela Bhansali on ‘Black’, screamed and shouted at when things went wrong, now all the nation screaming for them ! Raj Kapoor, ManMohan Desai, Prakash Mehra and all the young talent directing films for Karan Johar, all worked as diligent assistants.
Life is a great leveler they say. For us in this fraternity, films take over that mantle. Down and unknown once, up in the stars another, and then at times down again. Every Friday, the day of release of a new film, a new fortune emerges, a fresh scenario rises. This is show business. Show yourself well and you are in business. No show, no business. Simple, straight and uncomplicated !
Good night dearest ones. I need to get my Friday right for tomorrow !