Category Archives: anand sivakumaran


It’s the holiday season and most of us lucky ones are already off on our vacations. In fact even this piece is being typed right in the middle of my holiday (see how conscientious I am). But the very mention of holidays sends shivers down the spines of producers, channel executives cause it means their actors will be gone bye bye. Meaning no one to shoot with. Meaning – OH MY GOD! What in the name of God are we going to telecast?
Of course since actor holidays are planned and sanctioned in advance most times there is no cause for panic as writers have worked overnight and channel execs have kept their critical feedback to the barest minimum so that relevant portions can be shot with departing actors and audiences still manage to get their daily fix whether in station or thru You Tube etc.
The madness really begins when actors vanish without prior notification, sometimes for fairly long periods of time. That’s when writers, directors and producers must get their creativity to play Hooky with all known laws of elasticity and come up with mind boggling solutions to sustain the fiction that the character is part of the running storyline when in factor the actor is nowhere on the scene. Here are some of the common and uncommon gambits. 
Truly the most clichéd and the most hated device used to cover up for the lack of an actor. The FLASHBACK – where an actor who’s too nice or too stupid to gutli maaro conjures up memories of shared happier or sadder times. And the editor and assorted assistant creative directors sift through hundreds (and at times thousands) of back episodes to pull out earlier shot and telecast scenes. The interesting thing is that this device works as well for heroes/heroines as for villains. Instead of romantic memories all one needs to do is think of the baddie’s crimes against self, extended family and society at large. Set off with dramatic music one gets a thrill packed episode that might actually be pacier and rate higher than the normal ones. And in case there aren’t enough memories or old scenes, the editor still has one more solution to fill up screen time – slow mo all the existing footage so it goes on and on and on. This is also one of the most reliable and acknowledged cures for chronic insomnia.
This used to be a clever device, unfortunately now it’s been used so much – it’s become a cliché. Essentially funda is hero/heroine has decamped with current love interest, come down with illness, broken a bone, broken a heart, gotten pregnant and needs to have a quickie MTP (what you getting all shocked and moralistic about – if it can happen after dandiyas, why not after endless on screen romancing – dressing rooms can get pretty lonely, you know). Whatever the reason, the upshot is actor isn’t around.
Now particularly when ratings have been dipping, audience interest is flagging and channel powers that be are dropping hints about serving termination notices, this is a good time to pump up audiences with a thriller track. So kill two birds with one stone – make the missing actor vanish and introduce a kidnapping track.
And in case the actor in question has been particularly troublesome/gets paid too high a fee and the lack of the actor is working better than his/her presence, sometimes the kidnapping morphs into a murder situation. Then of course depending on audience response the character can be brought back later either with his/her own face or somebody else’s. (In our country it would seem surgeons are so talented that they can not only put someone else’s face on you but also alter your height, weight, age, body structure et al to look exactly like someone else – I wonder why no one is thinking of making Anna look like Sonia so that we can finally have some semblance of governance in our nation).
This is a veritable dream come true for actors playing secondary or peripheral parts in a show. Since the main actors are away and the flashback/missing methods have either been already used or cannot work for some reason, the only solution available is to bring these ancillary characters centre stage and do a track around them. And at times the track works so well and the characters become so popular that they end up taking over the whole show and the primary characters/ actors are given short shrift. Like they say – ‘tis an ill wind that blows no one no good.’
But there are times when this stratagem fails and badly. Like when I was doing this show where the actor and actress were both on vacation. I couldn’t move the narrative to the sub characters cause some of them had walked out because the entire focus was on the lead and they were feeling unwanted and unused. A couple of them were around but we didn’t want to use them cause they were so totally unwatchable. There was a kid character whom everyone liked but he had exams. Another popular character was down with malaria.
Ultimately the only actor who was both available and watchable was – Wait for it – the buffalo. I kid you not. And by the way the buffalo track worked and rated. Actors may not be cattle but cattle definitely are stars.
There are probably a zillion other tricks and techniques used to cover up the absence of an actor. But to my mind the following was by far the most brilliant and also a devastating F.U. delivered to a troublesome actor.
Of course it did help that the show was in the fantasy genre and we kind of had a license to get away with pretty much anything. But even then this was sheer genius and I doff my creative hat to the producer (also one of the nicest and most dignified people I have met in this business) who came up with it.
The solution? The actress in question was made the victim of a powerful spell that rendered her comatose (there are those uncharitable souls who claim that there was no change in her expression and performance before and after this incident). She was entombed and a new character was introduced whose mission was to find a way to bring her back to life.
Of course that mission stretched on and on and the show went on merrily for the remainder of its duration with the new characters and their adventures and a good time was had by all. Only in the last scene of the last episode was the spell broken and the original heroine brought back to life and that too for just about 30 seconds.
Be afraid actors, be very afraid
‘Nuff said. Happy 2012. 

Anand Sivakumaran
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Posted by on December 30, 2011 in anand sivakumaran, Rangmunch,



Hmm. Intriguing. Pehli Mulaqat toh ho gayi, doosri mein thoda time lag gaya nahin? That happens too in our business, a lot. A great first meeting, a strong mutual desire to take things forward and then an inexplicable silence, nothing at all for ages. But that’s another story.


So this was when I’d just finished work on my DV feature (post my wonderful time with Manjul) and was trying to get back into writing for TV. I’d heard that this Production House was doing some interesting work in the crime thriller space. So I go the number of the person in charge from a friend who knew the Producers and cold called him. You’ve probably heard of the standard – “Don’t call us, we’ll call you” brush off. Well that’s exactly what I got…

I’d hardly even managed to blurt out my name, say that I was a writer and I wanted to work with them when I was curtly informed that they’d get back to me. And before I could even remind them that they didn’t have my number seeing that I had called on their land line, the dial tone had put an end to the conversation.

Naturally I thought koi scene nahin hai and I should try somewhere else. I couldn’t have been more wrong. And this is where the story gets really bizarre.

Less than 2 hours later I got a call from the same person at the same Production House. Saying what? That they were doing a crime show and they needed a writer and they’d heard that I was very good and when would be a convenient time to meet and figure how to get started.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. I thought that maybe they had caller display on their phone, that they’d decided it was worth giving me a shot.

Then they said that they’d got my number from the owner of the Production House who was at that point in another city. And that’s when the pieces fell into place.

There was no connection between this call and my call. To them the guy who’d called in the morning was some general Anand, some stupid struggling writer who was desperate for work. Whereas this was Anand Sivakumaran, recommended by the Producer himself, a Writer of obvious worth (essentially what had happened was that the same friend who’d given by the number of the local bloke has also put in a word to the Producer as well). So in less than 120 minutes I went from FO fathhru to Would you please come and meet us Sir.

Cinderella has nothing on me. 


This is a truly riotous tale. And a lot of people still don’t believe it. But it’s true.

So there was this one Production House, a very successful one that I had never worked for. Simply because of the stories I had heard about the head honcho, a supposedly very temperamental lady.

And then one day I got a call to come and meet her. I demurred, made excuses, I didn’t want to work for them.

But thankfully my spirit of adventure triumphed over my laziness and I decided that I had nothing to lose by meeting her. If nothing else it would be an interesting experience. And what an experience it was!!!

It all started rather innocuously. I was summoned to the lady’s cabin where she greeted me quite politely and sweetly (in total contrast to all the horror stories I had heard, in fact I must reiterate throughout she was really, really nice).

She wasn’t alone, there was another young woman there, a Creative Director or some such species. Her presence didn’t surprise me, I presumed she was there to talk about a particular show they wanted me to work on. I was wrong.

I sat down and made myself comfortable and the lady in question did the same. Only she didn’t sit down. No siree.

Her CD sat down on a couch and she lay down putting her head on the former’s lap!!!

I am not kidding nor making this up. I think of myself as creative and gifted with an extraordinary imagination but I would not have able to come up with something like this.

It did happen.

I could have gotten offended by it – I know some fellow writers whom I’ve told this story to find it quite insulting. But truth is I was just cracking up. The hardest thing for me to do during the entire meeting was to not roll on the floor holding my sides. It was downright ridiculous.

One woman sitting staring at me expressionlessly. And another lying on her lap prattling away…

Nothing came out of the meeting work wise. But in terms of life and living, this was probably one of the most amusing, entertaining meetings I have ever been part of.

Totally worth it.


And to wrap up a sweet lil memory.

I had been roaming around for over a year with my kids’ film Chickotee, absolutely unable to get a single studio or Producer interested. It was kids, it was too small budget yadi yadi ya…

And then my dentist, yep the lady with the needle and drill (don’t be scared, she’s the gentlest, sweetest, most adorable dentist in the world, the only dentist you’d actually be happy about having an appointment with – take a bow Manveen) suggested I speak to her friend Atul.

And I did. Only when I called up, he politely and sweetly told me that he was already working on four films, there was no way he could take on one more. But there was no harm in meeting.

I went, with absolutely no expectations, after all Atul had made it clear that he wasn’t in a position to be involved with my movie.

The prelude to the meeting wasn’t encouraging. I couldn’t understand Atul’s directions and ended up chasing my tail all over Oshiwara for over 3 minutes before finally stumbling on to his office. By then I had pretty much decided that this was going to go nowhere and was feeling considerably sorry for myself and very pissed with the industry at large.

Cut to two hours later. I walked out beaming, traipsing on clouds.

Why? Atul had decided that he liked me, liked Chickotee  and was willing to produce the film. And the rest is history.

What happened in those two hours? I guess we just hit it off. And what had seemed like a definite dead end turned out to be the beginning of an amazing, awesome, exhilarating journey.

This was with my first meeting with my current producer Atul Pandey with whom I’m doing Money Devo Bhava and Chickotee.

The lesson in this story? Don’t give up. Knock on every door, keep hustling, keep writing, keep going. You never know when your moment will come. Be open to everyone and every possibility. And keep the faith. If God has given you a dream, He will also provide you with the means to make it happen.

And on that stirring note, Merry Christmas. (except for those of you in Canada where it’s politically incorrect to bring religion into greetings, or so I’m informed. For you guys – Happy Holidays).

‘Nuff Said.

Anand Sivakumaran

Yaad toh tab aayega na jab bhool jayenge- Gautam Hegde

Gautam Hegde

I remember when Star One was launched sometime in 2004. I was very new to the TV industry then and was completely in love with the channel- its tagline was Apni Tuning Jamegi and it had this complete fun feel to it, the promos, the packaging- it was like a wafer, crisp, fresh, you couldnt just have ONE! Sarabhai, Instant Khichdi, Remix, Guns n Roses, Pyar Ki kashti, Hotel Kingston (you may think I’m googling the names but the truth is I remember because I was awestruck that TV can be THIS too!!) And I secretly wished to be a part of Star One someday.

With the Mukul Srivastav, Hitesh, and Shilpa D Mello (MJHT)

And somehow I think God hears the whispers that you send to your own heart as well. A few years later, Vivek Bahl offered me to write for Deeya Singh’s Annu Ki Ho Gayi Wah Bhai Wah. And I was thrilled!! I did a few initial episodes of that but I couldnt continue due to some reasons. Then I got a call for another show called Seema Sudhir Sharma’s Chhotey Chhotey Sheher Bade Bade Sapney about two diamterically opposite sisters from a small town who come to a posh college in the metro. This show, no Santa Claus goodies for guessing, was Miley Jab Hum Tum! 

We went on air on September 22, 2008 (I hope I am right else the fans will kill me; and if I am right please dont think I am like Subodh from Dil Chahta Hai!) and again I was super happy to write a youth show, something I always wished to write when I saw Hip Hip Hurray as a kid. I still remember Mayank, Nupur, Samrat, Gunjan, Uday, Diya, Benjy, CJ, Vatsala, Annie, Chacko, Chinu, their Valentine Days, their pentathalons, the trip to Morena, Samrat realizing he is in love with Gunjan (which by the way happened almost a year after the show aired), how fans would keep comparing ‘Mayur‘ with ‘Sajan‘ and the whole complaints about these people got so many minutes of scenes more and they got so many seconds less in the song! LOL! That sheer madness! 

With Actor Arjun Bijlani

I miss MJHT- when I hear Khuda Jaane, I remember Sam-Gunjan, when I hear Ishq hua, I remember the one shot song in the foyer, when I hear Pehli baar mohabbat, I remember Mayank and Nupur’s passion. And when I hear Salaam E Ishq, I remember the crazy episode we wrote with Dill Mill Gaye and MJHT combined writers sitting in a room with Nikita Dhond, Rohini Singh, Anand Jain, Richa Yamini, Jyoti Tandon, Neeraj Sachdeva having Maggi noodles for hours together! I remember crying when the season one finale happened and the foursome met with an accident. Now there is sure a million fans who would wonder why we did that ever but lets not go there. 😉

when the writer became the actor!

And of course, I made my acting debut with the show. Nissar Parvej directed me as Chironji who came in Mayank and Nupur’s track, so yeah, Star One marked my debut as an actor as well! And then Chironji came back. I remember story writer Anand Sivkumaran’s sms to me- “Time to don the greasepaint again dude, Chironji return!” I bonded very well with Arjun and Rati. 

Then there was Love Ne Milaa Di Jodi. Three brothers, three sisters, a romantic thriller. Now that was another fun show primarily because everyone on that show was so much fun to work with. Our first schedule to Panchgani, the boys and girls pulling each other’s legs in the make up room, there was laughter always on the set. The creative team was also very sorted on the show. 

with the cast and  crew of LNMDJ

But then the sur of the show was made a bit soapy/drama because the channel was venturing with their next shows (Odhni and Geet) into a soapy/drama zone. When the show came to a closure also, it was sadder because we all bonded so much as a team-Pushkar Karmalkar, Sancheeta Bose, Jyoti Tandon, Jay Verma, Aparajita Saha, Shilpa D’mello, Radhika Borkar, Gaurav Khanna, Karan Tacker, Dishank Arora, Chandana Sharma, Simran Aur, Perneet Chauhan. Gladly, we all still catch up, we are on Facebook/ Blackberry/ and if nothing, just a phone call or a party invite away from each other.

I was briefly also a part of Dill Mill Gaye where I played Doogie who falls for Dr Ridheema whom I called Sweety beauty baby. I thought, whoa! Working with Karan Singh Grover THE STAR! But he was just so sweet! He and the Director Anirudh Rajderkar were very supportive of me. Being essentially a writer, I would change my lines as per what came to my head and not stick to the dialogue per se but they never complained and this applied to MJHT also. I remember I would just improvise something, like this one time when the script had me ask Nupur Mayank chala gaya? and I asked her Mayank chal basaa? and Rati was in splits and the Director had to call for a cut but we retained that and it just seemed funnier.

with the leads of Love Ne Mila Di Jodi

So thats what I gather, the channel was what I thought it was- FUN. It gave me a chance to work on projects I wanted to have on my CV (romantic comedies), it gave me friends (most of the cast members of LNMDJ, MJHT, writers, creatives) it gave me a chance to work with reputed Production Houses and I earned a lot of experience and made money for my first big house. Yes, us ghar ki eenth eenth mein MJHT aur LNMDJ basey hai, LOL! 

with Jaskaran

Presently the shows that I’m writing are for Star Plus but the last prjoect I did for Star One was Geet, when they wanted a cameo writer for a track when Geet goes to her maasi’s place- it was like a new set up and involved romance and comedy. Once that was done, I had to leave. 

The MJHT cast and Producers

Today the channel’s phased out and we wont get to see the ONE logo any more, but what matters is that somewhere it is still framed in our hearts, like the cupid in the end page of Love Ne Mila Di Jodi, like the whistle theme of Miley Jab Hum Tum, like the Ishq leta hai song from Dill Mill Gayye, like Maaheee from Geet. Its something we wont remember, because yaad toh tab aayega na jab bhool jayenge! 🙂  

Life OK is coming with a new set of shows, so let’s all wait and watch what they get and hope we still have more characters that become memorable, more love themes, more jodis, kyunki bhai, dil toh bahut bada hai, jagah banane ki der hai!

  Gautam Hedge
(Screenplay Writer)

Gautam currently writes for Is Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon, Saath Nibhaana Saathiya, Sapno se Bhare Naina and Navya on StarPlus. We would like to thank Gautam, who has always enthusiastically come forward to share his StarOne journey with us which clearly was most memorable!

What the F*$#?: ONE’S UPON A TIME!

Sorry guys, certain recent events have evoked some very strong emotions, which I feel like expressing right now. Hence the second part of the first meetings piece will only show up next week. 

I remember that day in February when Goldie Behl first shared with me, Sameer Nair’s vision of a channel catering to people like us, showing us what we would want to watch and most importantly giving us a chance to create what we were dying to create… Emotionally and physically I almost hit the ceiling (yes I do tend to be a tad dramatic). Those zillion ideas that teased and tormented me but nobody was buying finally would have their shot at becoming real…

I remember those weeks of frenzied activity as we turned ideas into concepts – the excitement and the energy was so high that nobody needed any artificial stimulants (well they did use them but I still maintain they didn’t need them).

Sometimes we were hunting for stills from Bond movies to embellish a presentation of our saving the country action adventure show. Sometimes we were coming up with con ideas to flesh out our take on competing con artists. Frantic research on Goa was happening to add colour and meat to a sexy crime thriller set on the beaches of that favoured holiday destination. Feverish brainstorming was happening for a high tech, forensic driven detective show. People were throwing crazy gags and punch lines at each other for a Bridget Jones-ish sitcom, that too before the said lady herself had entered the realms of popular fiction

I remember our pitch  – 17 shows… that’s right. That was the kind of enthusiasm and excitement that the promise of Star One had instilled in us.

Ok so we didn’t get to do all 17, but the magic of getting to do a Remix, a Guns and Roses and a Studio One was more than enough. And there always was the possibility of more of those ideas becoming shows if the first lot of shows did well…

I remember the Star One launch party – honestly those were some of the slickest, most enthralling promos I had ever seen in my life. Even if I was not involved even slightly with most of the shows that blew my mind, I didn’t care. It was such a high to be on the same channel as those kind of shows. I mean what a line up – a cerebral crime thriller involving everything from blood spatter analysis to ballistics and a tinge of good old fashioned intimidation and interrogation. A Kill Bill meets Charlie’s Angels revenge saga in Goa. The courtroom and chawl battles of a once mercenary lawyer who’d discovered a conscience, lost everything he’d earned but found a purpose in life. The doctor who’d inherited a gangster empire. The two dysfunctional Gujarati families, one sophisticated, one super crass, both of whom had us ROFLing. And how can I forget the four teens who turned their rebelliousness angst into rock anthems and became a youth cult?

I remember the incredible array of creative and technical talent on the channel – Charu, Saket, Renuka, Shikha, Radhika, Nupur, Joy, Umesh, Abhinav, Bijesh, Satyam, Barnali, JD- Aatish, Veena, Vinil… the list can just go on and on. Interesting how many of these people went on to make films and fabulous films at that. Few channels can ever boast of having so many fantastic storytellers working for them at the same time…

Sure the first lot of shows didn’t work. But I don’t think the vision was wrong. Maybe the attempt was too western, trying too hard to be like the English shows we all loved and aspired to emulate. Maybe we need to work harder, learn more, spend more time rewriting, reshooting, planning… There could be lots of reasons but the fact was if the channel had stayed on course, if the original vision had been retained, sooner or later we would have all got it right and created our own brand of hip, urban Indian shows…

But the vision was derailed for a while, an attempt was made to go more mainstream – that didn’t work either.

And then came the glory period of Star One, when it went back to its young, urban roots.

Dil Mill Gaye and Miley Jab Hum Tum – sure they were both candyfloss and popcorn not edgy or unsettling. But they were contemporary, they were urban – I mean for the bulk of its existence – MJHT had just one parent character and she was the maddest, hippest mom TV has probably seen (and yes I’m patting my own back here – she’s one of my favourite creations) and most importantly they struck a chord with the youth who embraced the shows and took Star One to the dizzying heights of 150 rating points. Maybe the channel was not a Plus or a Colours but in its own way it was a success, and it succeeded in getting the eyeballs and winning the hearts of the youth, which is the hardest thing to do as anyone in this business will concur…

The strange thing was that having reached these heights, they chose to abandon this audience and seek out the Plus audience and that sealed the fate of Star One.

One was always a youth channel. The other audiences had Plus, Colours, Zee… why would they come here? Which is why even the current hit Geet only worked to the extent it did when it become more youthful, romantic, fun…  But burdened by the desire to appeal to the whole of the country and every age group, the channel could never again be a success – which is perhaps why in all that time it never crossed 40 GRP.

Naturally it was living on borrowed time, the plug would be pulled sooner or later. And now it has. But now that it’s deformed so much from its original vision it’s even hard to shed tears for the death of this avatar. The One I knew, loved, the One who was close to my heart died a long time ago… and it’s that one I grieve for and miss so much today.

I also miss the working relationships, the friendships that sprung up during this channel. One fact about One was that while the programming may have changed, while the programming teams may have changed, the one thing that never changed was the innate goodness, niceness and pleasantness of the teams. Truly the Star One teams were the best teams I have had the good fortune of working with in all my years in TV. So today as the sun sets on Star One I remember Deepak, Anita, Aparna, Sanvari, Vivek, Monica, Rohini, Nikita, Anand with fondness and love. Thank you for some of the happiest and most fun memories of TV.

While signing off I must observe that the domain abandoned by One has been appropriated, and successfully by its own sister channel V with two successful youth show. Which just goes to show that the original vision of the channel was bang on and if only the powers that be had stuck with it, One could have really gone places.

And therefore though Star One will die, the vision will live on. Another time, another platform, another medium perhaps (the web) the vision of One will come back stronger, younger, edgier, more exciting, more enthralling. That I do believe and that is the triumph of the dream that was Star One.

It was a good dream. It remains a great dream.

And it will happen…

‘Nuff Said.

Anand Sivakumaran


One of the hardest things in life, with anything is getting started. Kicking off a business or a relationship, starting a story with little more than the glimmering of an idea, starting a piece like this, getting started in this business as an actor, director, writer…whatever. Though it’s hard, and often exasperating, totally frustrating even, it’s also so beautiful for we’re so filled with enthusiasm, determination, a raging passion to make this happen. There’re always some lovely memories of the early days of a business, a love affair, of what they euphemistically call ‘the struggle period’ in our storytelling world. I’m going to share some of mine – some cute, some downright irritating and some so totally WTF!


May as well start with the irritating and get done with it.

This was just after I’d spent a glorious 2 and a half years with the supremely talented, generous and totally awesome human being, Manjul Sinha (the creator, director of shows like Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi, PA Saaheb, Yeh Hai Mumbai Meri Jaan and a host of mini cinematic masterpieces in the form of stand alone Rishtey and Gubbarey episodes) as a writer, associate director, friend…

Manjul was my mentor, father figure, the man who taught me everything in those early days. Unfortunately TV was being taken over by the dailies and Manjul, like so many other gifted directors in the industry decided to take a back seat rather than be part of the factory system. That was the time when the genuine directors left the TV business and sadly still haven’t returned. Sure, there are still a few around but the bulk, are just ‘action and cut hollerers’ and that is the greatest tragedy of Indian Television.

I’m digressing. Point is with the possibility of my daily sambhar, rasam, dahi rice no longer coming from the Manjul Sinha stables, I had to look around for other work. And it was one such meeting that led me to decide never to direct for TV again till the daily system collapsed.

What happened? Brimming with creative ideas and the cheerful optimism of a new beginning I stepped into the office of a newly launched production house. Things started going awry in the first minutes, my meeting was scheduled with the producer herself but owing to some last minute snag (are there any other kind?) I was plonked in front of a production controller variety of person. No disrespect to this function but when your life revolves around pinching pennies and maximising shot footage and ensuring that actors show up and tapes leave on time, creativity and social niceties are never going to be your strong suit.

So naturally no scintillating creative discussions about my oh so brilliant ideas or frabjous chatter on cinema was on the menu. What I didn’t expect though was the meeting to begin and end with a single question – “Aap din mein kitne minute shoot karoge?” 

I was, not to put too fine a point on it, stymied. While working with Manjul we never ever worried about how many minutes we canned. The issues of the day were always – was the scene working, could we enhance the actor’s performance somehow, could a new funny twist be added to the scene, should we reshoot something (and by God we reshot a lot and it showed in the quality of the finished product).

Coming from this quality perspective this baniya -ish insistence on quantity was supremely grating on my nerves. Suppressing an urge to ask – “Aap jaise iss office mein aur kitne hain? Number pe depend karega ki aap sab ko shoot karne mein kitna time lagega” I politely averred – “Genre pe depend karta hai, na”.

Mistake no 1. Why would a number cruncher appreciate the intricacies of treatment and blocking that ensure that genres like comedy, thrillers always take longer to shoot. As they say “Bandar kya jaane adrak ka swaad?” To be honest this adage has always puzzled me – are simians ginger phobic or what? Anyway point is the gent got pretty flustered and said, “Genre se kya farak padta hai? Aap bataiye na, din mein kitne minute shoot karoge?”

I was seriously beginning to lose it. It looked like Shootout at Lokhandwala was going to happen again (or since no gun was handy it would be Kursi Smash at Lokhandwala). But since my finances were a tad straitened and bail money was going to be hard to come by I decided to slaughter him with his own weapon. He wanted minutes, I’d give the ‘@#&%$ing so and so’ minutes!!!

“20 minutes.”

He nearly fell off his chair – “Aap din ke bees minute shoot karoge???” For those who find nothing strange in what I was professing to be capable of, trust me Superman and The Flash combined would find it near impossible to accomplish this. On a good day, TV shoots produce 10-12 minutes of usable footage. On an astoundingincredibleonceinapurplemoon kind of day the figure creeps beyond 15. So no surprise then that said production dude was having an apoplectic fit. It was a wonder he hadn’t just keeled over and died (actually that’s just me indulging in wishful thinking – it takes a lot to kill production people. Ask industry junta – lots have tried…)

I didn’t back off, just looked him in the eye and said “Haan.”

He didn’t know what to say. I had lots more to say but most of it would have pertained to the questionable paternity of his parents and the fornicating habits of his extended family. So I just smiled and left. And never came back…

And also decided never to direct for TV again till something other than dailies came along…


Sweet Mother of Mary! How I do prattle on. Am almost at my word limit and I still haven’t told you my lying on lap story. Or the one about how I became a Pariah and Prince Charming on the same day. Or the one… oh what’s the point, you’ll just have to come back next week.

‘Nuff Said.

Anand Sivakumaran

Posted by on December 9, 2011 in anand sivakumaran, Rangmunch


What the F*$#?: LOVE IS A 4 LETTER WORD!

And now you’re thinking, poor Anand, he’s really been working too hard. Or he’s just been in this cockamamie business way too long and now it’s time for the gents in white coats to come and take him away and put him in a nice quiet room with padded walls, some extraordinarily long length of chain and maybe a steady diet of 240V of electricity won’t be such a bad idea…

After all take away love and what’s left in the movies? You may call a movie Bodyguard, but it’s really just a love story between a girl and a bodyguard. And you may have assumed Rock Star was about an Indian Morrison or Cobain, all about rage against the system and artistic angst but well it was just a love story between a girl and a rock star. And TV’s no different – a show could be about a dacoit or about vampires or even dictatorial didis but ultimately all these species, male, female, human, inhuman do fall in love and that’s what the show’s about.
Put simply on screen love is the one thing you can’t do without. So what the hell am I blathering about? Well let me remind you this column focuses primarily on what happens off screen in the process of creating the on screen stuff. And I assure you, off screen love is the one thing all producers, directors, creative directors, channel people can completely do without. In fact Pachaas pachaas kos door jab koi film/tv waala bahut oonchi udaan udta hai toh Big Boss (as in God) kehta hai –zameen pe aa jaa champoo, varna hero heroine ke beech mein love karwa doonga.
Now I’m sure, the question you’re dying to ask is – what’s so bad if two actors fall in love. And the answer is –

On a film/TV set, time is money. Every second that’s not spent in actual shooting involves the producer haemorrhaging lakhs of rupees. Trouble is when an actor and actress fall in love, the last thing they want to do is enact pretend love scenes in front of the camera. They would rather spend hours locked up in the make up room/vanity van/hotel room doing these scenes for real…

Well it is possible that they’re just getting into character, building up the romance and passion so that it shows up powerfully on screen but then it is also possible that there were actually WMDs in Iraq and it’s just that no one has found them yet, it is possible that Raja, Kani, Kalmadi are just innocent bystanders and it definitely is possible that pink elephants exist and can fly!
This without question is a film crew’s second worst nightmare – Actor and actress fall in love off-screen. But on screen they’re not playing lovers. Trouble is most actors haven’t mastered switch on, switch off. So on screen Actor A is telling Actress B – Tu meri sister jaisi hai. But their looks are saying Bistar kidhar hai?. And God forbid, they’re actually playing brother-sister or father-daughter or… forget it, this is just getting totally sickening…
And let’s not forget the jealousy factor – Actor C who is actually paired opposite Actress B, hugs the latter a tad too tight. At least Actor A who’s B’s off screen beau thinks so. Bas, mahabharats shuru.
A v/s C for overstepping his limits. Then A v/s B for two-timing him. Then A or B or A and B v/s writer and director for having a hugging scene in the first place… 

The biggest screw up with a couple is that by definition, a couple wants to be together, to do things together, it’s two for the price of one. But a couple on a shoot is twice the price and twice the traas. Say heroine finishes her shooting by 6 and wants to go partying. Only trouble is who’s she gonna go out with if not her boyfriend. But said gent still has to shoot for at least a couple more hours. Ghanta. He’s going to call off shoot and head off with his lady love. They’ll be painting the town red while producer will be banging his head.
Or suppose the producer/director/another actor has had a tiff with the hero. Suddenly two people are giving them stress about dates, wanting the script and lines changed, refusing to do scenes with the other actor – everything is now in Dolby stereo… It’s fully Toone kiya panga toh main bhi karoongi danga…

This of course being the shooting crew’s number one worst nightmare!!!

If you thought a couple in love were bad news, wait till they fall out of love. Now she doesn’t want to even look at him, forget hugging or kissing him – and that passionate bedroom scene – well guess what – this picture is no longer in danger of getting an A rating. Hurrah! It’s also in severe danger of not getting completed…
Cause now when he says – Darling, his look is saying Daayan. Her lips are saying – Tum kitne achche ho. Her eyes are howling –Tum kitne tuchche ho.
And then the real games begin. “I think this scene should be just on me, we don’t really need her.” “I think instead of that love song, we should have an item number picturised just on me.” “I’ll give you 5 more dates but put in an item song which has me and that sexy Brazilian model whom I’m trying to patao.”
Put simply when the actor and actress on a film or TV project have a break up, the crew has a collective nervous breakdown. And sometimes the entire project has a shut down. Remember Milenge Milenge – the film released 5 years after the lead couple broke up…
But I must confess an actor and actress getting involved with each other is not the worst fate that can befall a shooting crew. That distinction is reserved for the situation where a producer/director is involved with an actor/actress…
‘Nuff said.
Anand Sivakumaran

Posted by on November 26, 2011 in anand sivakumaran, milenge milenge, Rangmunch