Thursday, February 3, 2011

I have to say this, that no matter how hard I may try to write my post BigB

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 !
Amitabh Bachchan

I have returned from work some hours back Amit jee

Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh   Feb 2 , 2011    Wed  10 : 02 PM
I have returned from work some hours back. I have been through my scenes for tomorrow a million times, and still fail to remember all the lines correctly. I have completed all the necessary chores for the day. I have sat myself down for my moment. I have an emotion building up. I have wet eyes. I have no reason why they should be there, but they are.
I have met this evening two very dedicated members of the EF - Lakshmi Jag and Vijji. I have spent some quality time with them. I have used the word ‘quality’ because most parents these days refer to their meetings with their siblings as ’spending quality time’ !
I have realized through this meeting with the two members of the EF, what a wonderful family of friends we have built up. I have realized that I did not have any intention of doing so when I started the blog. And I have finally realized how an inconsequential offering of wanting you all to be my extended family, has resulted in such great devotion and sincerity, that it has moved me to tears.
Expectation has never been a quality that I have ever endorsed. So when its results present itself in great volume, in reciprocation, in love and understanding, in combining, in coming together, holding hands and hearts and feelings, in building and structuring associations - it moves me to an uncontrollable emotion.
Listening to the tales of compassion. Listening to the coming together in hours of strife and struggle among us. Being exposed to the glorious facts of what this platform has meant to all those that stand steadfast on it. Being exposed to the world that exists within this world of ours, is a devastatingly overwhelming feeling.
I had always believed that I stood alone, within myself, without any assistance or crutch. I am convinced now that I am not alone and I know never will be, thanks to the loving hands that come up, unasked, to hold and support me up. To allow me to stand up to my height. To permit me to walk that stride with dignified firmness. To reach out and know that it shall be taken in the spirit of the righteousness with which it was presented. To speak, to voice my opinion, to challenge, to debate, to discuss. And in all this, to be able to spread the affection and love with utmost genuineness, and know, that it shall be justly received.
I have expressed my attraction and my fondness towards my family, this extended family, on many an occasion. I have, I know, received in return, a reciprocation beyond measure. I have valued it as truthfully as I know I breathe. But I do not know why, the feeling today has been beyond all. And the more I stay with this the greater the emotion builds.
So ….
I have wiped away the liquids from the ocular. I have brought upon myself the smile of contentment through my rich growth of fresh grey on my chin. And I have realized the true meaning of the comment made by some of the EF
“Look what a wonderful family you have built Mr Bachchan !”
I have built nothing. You have structured yourself around me in such fashion that when others look at it from a distance it seems the buildings all belong to me !
Thank you for this additional space. These large comfortable living rooms and spacious bedrooms and expansive lawns and hills and valleys that surround me with the freshness of the green after a generous monsoon.
There will be times when I shall be unable to live up to this generosity. There will be times when I shall falter, make errors and atrocious mistakes, fail in my duties or belie expectations. But never, never ever, will there be any reason for this, with deliberate intent.
I turn in for the day, content with the thought that tomorrow shall be another day of association with my extended family, my EF, my FmXt …
Love affection and all that is dear for me .. for you  !!! 

Aarakshan Movie Cast and Crew

Amitabh Bachchan

I see incredible scenes of violence and disruption on the television Big B

Bhopal , Madhya Pradesh   Jan  28 ,  2011   Fri  11 : 03 PM
I see incredible scenes of violence and disruption on the television about what is happening in Egypt and in particular in Cairo and feel so sad that this beautiful country and city and its warm and hospitable people should all come to such condition. All my visits there have been so memorable and full of so many happy times. The shoot in Cairo for ‘The Great Gambler’ in 1975, when they did not know anything about Indian films and actors. On the streets if India was mentioned it was always ‘Nehru’ - their known association with him and their own President Nasser and the relationship that they enjoyed. Many years later and on an invitation to their film festival I had gone there with the kids having picked them up from Switzerland after school, to the most amazing visit ever. Those events and that visit shall always remain imprinted on the sands of time in my life eternally.

Something between the ‘Great Gambler’ shoot and ‘Mard’, which was a colossal success in Egypt in particular, had changed the perception of Indian cinema in this historic land and I had fortunately become the receiver of the love and affection that they had been holding on to for so many years. Those visuals of the tapes that were recorded are my great source of upliftment whenever I am down and depressed. The warmth, the affection, the love and care, the respect that they gave was so so overwhelming that it shall be difficult for me to describe it.
There are many visitors from India that go across on holidays to this land of the pyramids and come back with such glorious stories of the association the Egyptians still have for me and I am touched and feel so blessed. And so it saddens me even more to see the anger and discomfort that they go through now and I hope fervently that it all comes to an end soon and in peace.
When there is the opportunity of a fresh project underway, I have often tried to think my way through as to what the best way would be, to acclimatize myself to the circumstances that prevail immediately. And I think I may have a solution that could become universal in its final assessment. I believe that the project we work on is the brainchild and the creative structuring of the Director. He is the one that encapsulates an idea first and foremost. It is an intriguing process by itself to suddenly get up one morning and declare that I would want to make a film and this is what it would be about and these are the characters that would play a prominent part in the project, and this is who I would want to enact them and here is how I would want the project to look and the clothes and colors that would be worn and the sets to be designed in such fashion and the properties in the house to be arranged in particular manner and ….
The list of things to be done is just endless …
Converting such process into reality is the next heading that intrigues me. How does the decision to use a special kind of furniture in the make shift house come about, or why a certain kind of curtain or property is hung on the walls and doors. What is the reason behind the kind of songs and the music that is used in his film, or the flair of the writing that precedes. And if he is writing his own lines and scripting, then why does he do it in that manner.
In many ways therefore I have believed, a film reflects the nature and character of the Director that makes it. It reflects his sensibilities, his taste, his culture, his aesthetics, his reasons for life and the way it should be treated and conveyed. And if the written word belongs to him as well in the shape of the dialogues that are written, then he is not just a Director, he is also and perhaps more importantly an accomplished actor.
There are then many instances where the Director of the film is also its Producer. Many such examples exist and abound the present day film industry of India. Production is an intricate job. Scheduling a film, booking artists, dates, locations, facilities, hospitality, personal and individual intricate exigencies, handling, observing, dictating, controlling and at the end fulfilling a task that he had originally set out to achieve as an idea one fine morning, in the confines of his comfortable bed or home !
When you saw a Raj Kapoor film you were also exposed not just to the story or the film that unfolded before you on screen, but it also displayed to you what he could be in person, in reality. There was an extravagance, and an excitement to life as it were in all his films. And that came about from his own personal nature. There was an exuberance in the way he lived. It was always to the fullest, drawing every inch of that prized nectar that is offered to all of us as individuals.
When you saw a Guru Dutt film, you were drawn into the intricacies and subtleties of the white and the black, with the odd grey thrown in. Shadows prominently caught your imagination as you watched some of his scenes from the more dramatic scripts he dealt with. His characters, soft and gentle, lyrical almost in their execution. His music and words drifting as if they would never want the strain to end. I never did meet him, but those that did, perhaps may have felt those shades of the black and white in his own life, the troubled shadows that he reflected on screen could perhaps have been a reflection of his own being.
ManMohan Desai, Prakash Mehra, Yash Chopra, Ram Gopal Varma, R Balki, Karan Johar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Bimal Roy and an endless stream of talented technicians and makers have all perhaps displayed in the varied hues of their creativity, their own personal view on life and how it needed to be viewed.
There is often talk and debate and discussion on how actors because of being exposed to so many different situations via the characters they play, finally have nothing left within them which they can truly call their own. And whenever occasion has arisen, does the world outside view that as another performance from an actor or the feelings of a person, another human or an independent individual ! Actors face this dilemma often. We are the so called stars of the horizon, the face that makes people happy, the element that draws the crowds and viewers and respondents and followers. Little is often then heard of the people that make us do what we do - the director. And in my very humble view, it is he the director that we see in film after film that we admire. It is our more treated face that occupies most of the 70 mm screen, but behind that make belief mask is the concept of a very proficient machinery. A machinery that is often known as the Director of the film !
My tribute then to all those valiant men and women that have conceived and valued, what I may have been capable of doing and what I could through their most generous gift of giving away, put their face masks on mine to give me the credit of their soul.
Good night dear and near … I travel again in the morn to my own city and clime to attend to a commitment given to an editor who wishes to pay tribute to me at the annual award ceremony that he conducts.
My tribute would be inconclusive without the support of those that I just spoke about. Long may they live and long may they continue to express themselves through the efforts of those they consider their transferable soul mates !
Amitabh Bachchan

Some moments from ‘Aarakshan’ as promised. The Director and DOP and colleagues that go to make cinema what it is … and why it is …

Dearest and most concerned FmXt’s Big B

Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh    Jan 31,  2011    Mon 9 : 45 PM
Dearest and most concerned FmXt’s,
I report below from my terrace outside my room, spacious, pretty with the setting sun, after a glorious semi cool day, weather vane in place and for the cat lovers, would you believe it, their replicas at the drain ends. A bit rusty but all the same quite unique.
A few apologies again for the faux pas in the morning on forgetting to post the post. Bit my tongue in anguish at the mistake, it remaining as a painful reminder for the entire day. A bit of gentle blood, a burning during lunch, but now all is well and smooth and settled. No pain, no discomfort and dinner was without any blemish !
The lake as you see portions of it as the sun reflects, I am told has a circumference of 33 kilometers. Rather large. I asked as I flew over it what was the name of the big lake below. They told me Bada Lake ! Hah ! Bada as you know in Hindi means big. So … what a revelation !!

I have to say this for the city of Bhopal, it has been a wonderful place to work in. The weather has been bracing, less polluted than most other cities, the people have been most polite and considerate and warm and their discipline has been exemplary. We are as you may know by now at a College some distance form the city. There are hundreds of young students studying and spending time on the campus, but apart from the excitement of a film being shot in their back yard, they have shown no misbehavior of any kind and have maintained a respectful distance from the work area, giving us a somewhat relaxed and comfortable atmosphere to work in. Yes they come around and cheer and scream, but when asked to follow production diktat have been most obedient.
Getting into the meat of the film gradually and now pieces beginning to fall into place. There is a lot more to say in this film than I have had for some time I must say. Which is not a bad idea. But which is quite stressful. Learning lines the previous night for the scene in the morning can be quite exasperating, and even though we have a  complete script, the dialogues are still taking some time to appear. Its a bit discomforting. Especially for someone like me. But I guess one has to cope.
The entire evening has been spent with technicians of varied hues. Someone to fix a magic stick for the 3G facility available here, so one can connect while on the road. Computer guys trying to fix the 3G stick from Tata DoCoMo on to my Mac and the issues it creates because it is a Mac. The Tv guy to fix the set because it is not receiving the sports and movie channels. Funny ! Because when they take the box to the room next door, it works fine, but the moment it comes into mine, it shimmers and shies away. Frustrating because I so wanted to see the Australian Open and could not.
All eyes now on the cricket world cup, being played this time in the subcontinent - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh. And this promises to be a humdinger primarily because India looks good and the home advantage is being looked upon as advantageous to us.
As many of you may know this year’s Padma Honors, the National Honors went to several from the fraternity. And one that I particularly enjoyed was the Padma Bhushan given to Waheeda Rehman, my favorite from much before I came to the movies. And she is the sweetest that you can ever come across. From the early days when we worked together in Reshma aur Shera, she has been most encouraging and supportive. On receiving my greetings and flowers for her decoration by the Government, she called as she often does when she has something important to say. She thanked me for the note and the flowers and then went on about the number of decorations I had received and wondered with all these different titles that had come my way, what may she now address me as !!!
Ha ha ! I just love her sense of humor ! She has always addressed me as Amitabh and I told her she must continue to do so. I had thought she was perhaps joking with me, when she asked the question, but no she was seriously wanting to know whether she would now have to use a Mr or Dr or a PadmaBhushan. She is such a wonderful soul.
It is always a joy to be in her company. Her grace and her presence still put me in awe of her.
Thank you dearest FmXt for your gracious words of congratulation for the 40 year FilmFare presentation. One shall endeavor in the days to come, to strive harder and to try tio live up to all that you constantly expect from me …
My love as always …
Amitabh Bachchan

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