Updated: Aug 19, 2021
December 2018, Madh Island, Mumbai.
Let me pause, rewind a little and take you back to December 2018.
Madh Island, Mumbai – A city of dreams as they say; This was surely my dream come true!
I was given this amazing opportunity to work as the first assistant director alongside Sheershak Anand and Shantanu Ray who are Bollywood’s finest directors and have made films like Table No. 21 and 3G. Cool, isn’t it? It was a 5 days project and I was super excited to learn and explore everything on a real film set.
The first day was great. We were a team of three assistant directors, two boys and a girl – well prepared with the scripts and storyboards. The directors asked us to check out the shooting location and see where all the scenes were going to be shot. So, we went off exploring. There was no crew. The cinematographer and artists were called the next day. We just had the art department that was busy preparing the different shooting sets and us looking around. I was thrilled to be present and living my moment in an environment of “behind the scenes – cut – retake – camera - rolling” and everything related to film making.
It was the second day where all the action was going to begin. I was bang on time and reached the shooting location at 9 AM. I saw a few men unloading a truck, carrying big camera set up along with tents and lights. There were vanity vans coming in. For a moment I felt like I’m standing at one point and everything around me was moving in a fast motion. Once the camera was set and ready to roll we began shooting. Sheershak Anand and Shantanu Ray were doing an awesome job with direction and we were behind them doing our job of assisting, looking into continuity and verifying the shot list. So finally I was into action too and doing what I was passionate about.
But everything isn’t as rosy as it sounds and there’s always a twist in every story. I have one too.
During our lunch break, generally while talking, the girl from our team started referring the directors as ‘uncle/s’. My ears stood up and I was surprised! The other assistant probably did not react because he was aware of all this already. Then a man, part of the Producers team walks in and starts talking very sweetly to the same girl, who turned out to be his daughter. Like obvious, she was the only one to get this sweet gesture and did not miss out on any opportunity of getting every special treatment from her father on the set while others had to face a rude tone from this man. Not sure if he was jolly otherwise. She was somewhere in her first year of college and was quite apparent that she could ask us to do a few things on orders just to show-off and prove her superiority though did not have any guts to straight up say uncle to the directors. That way, I’m glad our directors were not partial and treated all of us equally.
This same man (not sure why he was on the set at the first place), did not hesitate from claiming his well-known connections with big producers. Assertive to make a career for his own referred kids through all the big names including Anupam Kher. He looked certain and convincing. So, there I was, humble enough to approach him for the same kind of referral support, but as expected; Mumbai people sitting in their own zones usually show their powers. This man was rude and asked me to learn my job first. I am pretty sure he was unaware of the fact that I, who is employed by a well known IT Company of India, made more than 10 short films with a few releasing on big screens- capable enough to create a film myself. With his daughter and the additional boy, he called to assist clearly seemed new to the industry and the entire film making process. I am sure, all these so-called producers are totally into pushing their own kids ahead, looking down on outsiders and not letting go of any opportunity to demoralize them.
Soon those 5 days came to an end and it was time for a wrap. My overall experience was an absolute delight and I’ve been fortunate to work with the best and some good memories created. The hours were long, but the work was cool and worth it. What I took back with me is hard work, showing initiative and being consistent are the three most important lessons you’ll learn about succeeding onset.
Moving forward and rolling into the present - July 2020.
I love the journey so far and I continue to face challenges in getting film projects. But, at the same time I’m still moving forward in my career and gladly take opportunities as they come because making films is where my passion lies. Even if I do not get a production house to work on their projects, I will create my own.
Also, when you’re well-connected and powerful enough in your own part of the country – then someday it’s okay for you to wish that this producer guy happens to come to your city and meets you. You just never know.