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Category Archives: What the F*$#?

What the F@#$?: AAJ UNSE PEHLI MULAQAT HOGI PART 2…


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.


ANAND AUR ANAND

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. 

AAJA MERI GODI MEIN BAITH JA

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.

KARNA THA INKAAR

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
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What the F*$#?: ACTORS ARE CATTLE- PART 2

A director friend of mine once commented –“I have no problems with actors till they attempt to use their non existent brains…” Which does sort of fit in with the way a theatre director describes actors in an episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S – “my talking props.” Actors somehow seem to be the butt of everyone’s jibes – they’re everyone’s favourite dart board. So much so that after last week’s article some of my friends shared their best WTF moments with actors. And I’d like to begin this week’s column with one of those.

This is thanks to Harini Calamur – writer, producer, director, professor, blogger, slave to a beastly hound – all round ‘live-r’ of life and one of my oldest, closest friends.


PARAYE MARD KE SAATH SONA – HAAUUUUUUWWWWWW

In Harini’s words – “I was shooting this thingee … and the creative called for the mother to be woken up in the middle of the night to go to her crying child. The “actor” refused to comply. I am married to someone else. I can’t be shown in bed with another man. This when she was fully clothed, and on different ends of a king sized bed… *GRRRRR*.”

Interesting that she was ok with being shown as the mother of some other man’s child. But then this is India where babies are Bhagwaan ki vardaan.” Sex has nothing to do with our 1 billion plus population, does it. Which is why sex education is taboo but the number of teenage pregnancies and abortions mount alarmingly. Ah well…

OH BUTTERFLY
So there we are at the home of this young star (I really cannot call him an actor after seeing his last 3 films), narrating our script. The role was a lead one and that of a suicide bomber and consequently the narration had more than it’s share of tense, dramatic moments. Little did we know however that the most dramatic moment of all would be provided by the star! (Like I said footage khaus)

I had just gotten to the point where the character has a gun pointed at his head and is within inches of saying ta ta bye bye to the world when there was a loud screech and we saw the star jumping 6 feet into the air. And then racing out of the room. For a brief second I allowed myself the vanity of thinking my narration had been so stirring that the star had actually experienced his near death experience.

Fat chance. The star’s servant charged in and proceeded to bustle around the room with a broom. Turns out a BUTTERFLY had entered the room and guess what – said star is terrified of them!. Now I don’t want to mock anyone’s phobias – people can be scared of anything from eating peanut butter (arachibutyrophobia) to the number 13 (triskaidekaphobia). But behaving like a kangaroo executing a double back flip and howling like a banshee at the same time – thoda overacting nahin lagta hai? Wait a minute – why did I expect anything different – I saw his last film!!!

Ok now to wind up coming to the two categories of actors I genuinely loathe – what’s that you’re saying? One more story? Hmmmm… for love? Alrighty then.

YEH KNEE MUJHE DE DE WRITER

Ok I swear I’m not making this up. And yes the lady I’m talking about is probably the cuckoo-est actor I have yet met in this business. But one never knows what the morrow will bring.

Anyway cut to another narration – this being for a songless thriller, the main protagonist being a woman. Now this entire project had been built around this actress cause of where the funding was coming from – but let’s not go there.

The nub of the story is when we were narrating the script to the actress for the first time. So I finish my entire telling and turn to lady for her reaction. And what she did made me want to execute the kind of jump I described in previous anecdote. She looked soulfully into my eyes, grabbed my knee and hissed – “Mere liye 6 acche gaane likh dijiye Anand jee, Madhuri Dixit waale.”

Now I’m goggling. When exactly during the narration had I metamorphosed into a music composer/song writer? Also wasn’t ‘Main Madhuri Dixit banna chahti hoon’ a tad passé? And most importantly why was she still squeezing my knee? Did she think it was some erogenous zone or pleasure centre that would have me melting and succumbing to her demands? (KNEECH–KAMI-KNEE– Sorry couldn’t resist that).

I thought I was staring at her stunned and aghast at the ludicrousness of it all. But my director tells me I was glaring at her as if to say –“Get your paws off my knee bitch before I break them off.”  What to say I find this kind of bindaas molestation very ‘knee’dless. OK. SORRY. I’ll stop.

But not before talking about the two detestable kinds of actors:

  1. The “INTELLIGENT” actorPlease to note, intelligence is in quotes. I have no problem with intelligent, thinking, smart actors. The trouble comes like my director friend said with the ones who attempt to flex their non existent cranial muscles. Like the ones who ask – So in this scene where I drink a cup of tea and put it down – where is my character coming from? What’s his childhood angst?
There is only one response to this utterly pseudo intellectual bullcrap. As my brother would respond – “You were never given teddy bears or rubber duckys as a kid, your parents locked you in the cupboard, and you were made to eat boiled eggs with jam. Now bring this all out in the scene where you drink your tea and put the cup down without any dialogues or props.” KHATAM SHUD

  1. THE “STAR” actor – Again please note, there are STARS and then there are those who have starry nakras. These could also be people who have been signed for a TV show and shot for just two days, these could be those waiting to be cast opposite Ranbir Kapoor in a K Jo film. Tantrums have nothing to do with being a STAR. So be it ordering food for 25 people from a 5 star at the producer’s expense and then taking it all home or flinging chai etc at a hapless assistant or turning up late or saying Aaj Mood Nahin Hai. The stories are endless, but the behaviour is just not acceptable.
Fact is the reason everyone in the business hates actors is that they make the most money and get the most attention. Plus there’s the belief that every other person involved with making a film/TV show works longer and harder than actors. I agree with the former – the actor is never the first person who arrives on set but (s)he always gets to leave first. The latter – not so much – actors have a very physically and emotionally demanding job – it’s their bodies, their emotions, their souls that are laid out on screen and to get it right they have to give it their all. True a lot of them give nothing at all but that’s their individual failing – that cannot demean the position of actors as a whole.

But the trouble comes when to add to this already existing bias and ill-feeling, actors behave badly, throw their weight around, make the lives of people around miserable. That’s when one is tempted to paraphrase Walter Winchell – “Bollywood is where they shoot too many pictures and not enough actors.”

‘Nuff said.

Anand Sivakumaran
Rangmunch.TV