Friday, 10 April 2009

A Day spent on the sets of RANN with Ram Gopal Varma and Amitabh Bachchan

by Devansh Patel

You'd actually pinch yourself when you see both Ram Gopal Varma and Amitabh Bachchan on the sets together. But your dream soon becomes a reality when the director says 'Cut'. A series of stunning performances headed RGV's Sarkar and Sarkar Raj, and now Ramu brings together the best element he had crafted in these two films - Amitabh Bachchan. It's like achieving nirvana when you see the lethal combo back again, especially during the making of a film because it's exactly that moment when you come to know the making of genius.

My day started off a day before I visited the sets of RGV's Rann. A text message sent to the director reads – Hi Ramu, Have you started your Rann shoot again with Mr Bachchan? I'd like to visit the set. A prompt reply from RGV says – Ya sure. Just let me know when you want to come. And that's when my poetic instincts, according to RGV, comes into act. I reply him back – It'll be worth a watch to see the inventor meet the creator, to see the rebel meet the perfectionist and to see the master meet the sarkar. Having known Ramu for quite sometime now, I knew he would throw the ball in my court, and how! His text says – Now stop being a poet. B is shooting with me tomorrow.

But the question is 'Where'. I call the writer of Rann, Rohit Banawilker for details. 'Madh Island' was the answer. After a gruelling hour and a half I finally reached the destination. 'Viva Bunglows' was where the mighty star cast was present. Amitabh Bachchan in a dapper looking dark blue striped suit, Simone Singh draped in an off white kurta pyjama, Sudeep wrappped up in a shirt and jacket, Neetu Chandra covered from top to bottom in a peach coloured dress and Nina Kulkarni who plays Big B's wife in a beautiful saree. The contemporary look of the bungalow might take you by surprise because RGV has finally moved away from the chawls and the theek thaak looking gharana. All shared a strong camaraderie with Ramu. In the three hours I spent on the sets, two scenes were shot. In a day though, more than five scenes were done and dusted. That's a feat in itself. But don't get surprised. We all know that RGV likes to work at a lightning pace. What's more, his enthusiasm is infectious. Some directors direct from the TV monitor but he'll walk on set with the cameras and interacts with everyone fantastically. Varma's favourite DOP, Amit Roy, pans his camera in a tight close in one of the rehearsals. The director believes that the eyes and the facial expressions of the character speaks more in volume. You now know why Sarkar Raj had those tight close ups.

Having said that, on the flip side, RGV does what he believes that no other director would've dared to do. In one of the scenes where Nina Kulkarni and Neetu Chandra were seated on a sofa along with Sudeep and Simone Singh, a soft focus of Amitabh Bachchan seen in-between them from a distance was to be shot with no dialogues from the senior most actor. A figure like Mr Bachchan is in soft focus yet it is the most important scene according to RGV because he thinks that people still have their eyes on Big B. For a second, you want to believe that Big B was like a fly on the wall. He had to be there long enough that people forget that he was there. You have to second guess what is going on and to be there for three to four takes to get the moment. But it's only the fly that is in your mind. Killing the scene softly, RGV requests Amit Roy to then take his favourite shot – close up of Big B's facial expressions. 'Cut' says the director and off we go for lunch.

Szechuan Chicken with Roti and Curd was a perfect meal on a hot summer day and what better lunch than to have Ram Gopal Varma to give you company. We sat together in his vanity van discussing films, films and more films till the second shot was about to get ready. RGV rushes to the sets in time. He loves and respects time because I got to know from his well wishers that he has always finished his shoot early yet properly.

Shot two goes under way with a dining table breakfast scene where Sudeep, Mr Bachchan and Nina are seated where Big B again has no dialogues. With nothing to say and get the scene perfect has become RGV's trademark. Talk about a team player. He puts everything he has into it. But as soon as the shot was in its second take, a child actor named Rahul gets hit on his head against the glass slide door which he thought was open. The crew got worried but more worried was Mr Bachchan. He walks up to the main door from the breakfast table, orders the ice and rubs it gently on Rahul's forehead. Crying in pain, the cute boy couldn't see the fun coming his way. In order to divert the attention of Rahul, he rubs the ice on his face and slowly into his tee. Cry turned into smiles and in a second into a laughter for Rahul. Everyone including Ramu was present during the picture perfect moment when Rahul got his best pic clicked with Mr Bachchan before the pack up announcement was made.

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