Saturday, February 10, 2007

Mukund Bhai Crazy Kiya Re

From long hours at work in one of the biggest US-based software firm in the world for its consulting team to making his own movie, Mukund looks every bit the typical corporate executive only to find a different persona if you glance a little deep. Around mid 2006, after going through a lot of soul-searching, Mukund put his cash to good use and chased a nagging dream. By end of 2006, "Boomerang", Mukund's very own production was ready on reels for release. A 70-minute psychological thriller in English, "Boomerang" is his maiden attempt in visually portraying a story. His vision is to act as a catalyst and share his film making experiences with like-minded people.

The Inspiration.

Mukund hails from a family, which is closely attached to Indian theatre and film making, his father being an accountant in Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. Since his school days, he has grown up in a neighborhood where "Lights, Camera, Sound, Action" is part of the day-to-day language. But on insistence of his parents, he followed the regular path, completed his graduation and then his post graduation in management before joining the corporate world. The dream to make a movie was always there in the back of his mind and Mukund believed in the idea of sharing his dreams with as many people as he could. With this lingering aspiration in mind, he enacted some theatre performances in Bangalore under the banner of "Playback Theatre". He often wrote "I want to make a movie on a piece of paper 10 times every day". It was this constant reminder that kept him focused. This went on for a while, when his friends and colleagues all got cheesed off and gave him an ultimatum saying either you do it or stop talking about it. It became an 'izzat ka sawal' sort of situation. Finally after long series of self-analysis Mukund decided to take a break from work and start his own production.

He has traveled extensively on business assignments to various destinations in U.K, Uganda, Kenya, Malaysia, France, Honk Kong, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, etc to name a few and during these trips he visited the libraries in these lands and studied a lot about filmmaking and cinematography over the weekends and after work. He learnt how to write screenplay, the dialogues and the nuances of film-making lingo - camera, dolly, shot breakdown, shot scheduling, editing etc, all by himself out of sheer passion. The desi community in Uganda was so appealed in his venture that they were ready to support his entire project financially, at one point of time.

The Journey.

The entire cast and crew of "Boomerang" was gathered online through e-mail messages and requests posted on websites. He posted his requirements on the film site, Mandy and was surprised that those who replied were people with experience, with strong footholds in Hindi film industry and were serious about the whole idea from an amateur. The script for the movie had stuck to Mukund on one of his trips to Hong Kong and the story got its real 'U' turn, when he was stuck in a traffic jam in Bangalore. The script was reviewed time and again, modified and restructured entirely through the web world by e-mail exchanges with some of the best names in Indian movie and T.V. world namely Anuradha (Eenadu TV, Hyderabad) and Himanshu Vora, to name a few. Himanshu was the Assistant Director of the movie, Iqbal and has worked in many of the assignments with Nagesh Kukunoor. While all these activities were in progress, Mukund started his hunt for the artists using networking sites such as Ryze and Yahoo Groups. The response was motivating and he went ahead and short listed a few people and met them personally in Mumbai. The rest, as they say, is history. The movie was shot in Mumbai and Panvel.

The Process.

On request, Mukund’s manager at work granted his leave for close to 12weeks. With this time constraint and equipped with strong theoretical knowledge, he reached Mumbai on 4th Aug’06 and started meeting people from the industry taking their valuable inputs, understanding how the industry functions, what are the procedures for getting any film registered and so on. ADs were put up in Prithvi Theatre, Café Coffee Day and Mocha outlets for the audition.

He conducted auditions, which is when he felt like a real filmmaker. After many auditions from the brilliant to the not so brilliant, he finally settled in on his actors, who later went for a 2-week long rehearsal at a school in Mumbai. In the meanwhile he was running from pillar to post for the props, the costumes, film equipments etc. After a lot of site selection for the shooting, Panvel, a place near Mumbai was finally zeroed in. The location for the shoot was from 8th to 16th Sept. One week before the shoot, his production person said he is unable to get most of the things for the film, the camera, lights, makeup, props, etc. Now that the location was booked and a big amount had been paid, postponing the shooting was something out of question. Something not in his mind at all but the panic button had already been pressed. This was the time when his father’s contacts at FTII, helped him a lot to collect and arrange the needful in four days from Pune.

Finally the shooting for the movie started on the scheduled date, Mukund spending his entire day shooting, shouting, scheduling and what not with less than two hours of sleep. Amuck and berserk weren’t the words either, shots not getting canned properly, retakes running over 17 takes, disturbances from the dogs howling to water flowing. Meanwhile some rumor spread that the movie has a big star and there was a huge crowd outside. It took some while before they realized that there weren’t any big stars, but still the crowd was curious to watch the shooting. The local panchayat honcho finally fetched in some peace to the dis-orderliness only after getting his palms greased.
First Shot
[On the sets.]

After the shooting was done, the next major hurdle was the post-production (editing, mixing and music) activities. He got the team from Pune and they used to work at nights as the studio, which they had booked, was already allotted for a star-studded Hindi movie blockbuster during the daytime. By the 1st week of October the film was complete and the results weren’t quite encouraging. Few of Mukund’s, father’s colleagues at FTII saw the final print and they pointed out some gross mistakes and also some fine subtleties that were missed. Left with 2 choices - either (a) leave the film the way in its present format or (b) to re-shoot, Mukund after much deliberation decided on (b). Getting the location was out of the question, so he created the same set at his home in Pune. Got the room painted, got the sets, the interiors, the team in place and re-shot on the 20th of Oct’ 06, the fine points that were neglected before. After all these hard work, the film with the music and final edit was ready on reels on the 10th of Nov’06 night at 12 pm. So his stargaze of "Lights, Camera, Sound, and Action" finally became a reality at the stroke of mid-night.

The Movie, the Starcast and the Marketing.

Mukund made the movie in English. The reason being since Internet was the medium that made him realize his dream, he wanted to release his movie thorough the web-world, which follows English as the de-facto language. More so he wanted to make the movie for an international audience and make his mark as a quality filmmaker understood and appreciated worldwide.

Mukund’s movie was appreciated at the International Film Festival, which was held at Goa from 23rd Nov to 3rd Dec 2006. Serge Sobczynski of the Cannes film festival saw the film and Mukund is keeping his fingers crossed to hear from him, the feedback about his work.
[ Mukund on the left, Raj on the right.]

Movie Synopsis: AK is a London based, renowned but controversial crime novelist of Indian origin. His claim to fame is that the protagonist of his novels is always a negative character. He comes to India to write his latest novel. But some sinister plan unfolds. Does AK’s own life begin to appear like one of his best-selling crime novels?

The main cast includes Raj Vasudeva and Rajeev Mishra. To get a peek into the movie, watch the video below.

Now that Boomerang is ready, Mukund is looking to market it. Once again he has turned to the World Wide Web to arrange for screenings at the festivals and home video circuits. He has got invitations from few distributors for his movie. Apart from that few NRI’s have appreciated his work in his maiden production and have displayed interest to support him for his forth-coming ventures. Mukund is a married man and his wife is a schoolteacher and they have a four-year-old son.

I had the opportunity to work with him way back in 2003 in one of the most awaited events in any Inter Corporate Fest, the MADADS (non-stop scoff on the ADs for 10-12 minutes without the use of any props, background music or any gadgetry.) I was fresh out of my graduation school and he wanted all young blood in his team of six and the script was written over lunch (with valuable inputs from chimney king,AJ) and we rehearsed after work, late nights for two days before the final performance. The performance was so humorous and professional that we won it hands down against the other twenty odd participating teams from the corporate world and was also requested for a repeat performance.

Once I asked Mukund, how he juggles between his work life and his passion for theatre and movies and what is his trade secret. His reply was he believes in 'The Alchemist' philosophy - When you want something, the entire world conspires in helping you to achieve it. Ok, then are you aware of the latestsci-fi thriller from the desis stable, Formula 69 made by a IIM-Lucknow graduate and 29 IIT-Delhi students, entirely shot in the IIT Delhi campus. Watch out for my next report, coming soon.

Saach Bolega Sirkeet, apna Mukund Bhai na philum banaya re, ekdum mast re, enngleesh maain, Saamjha kya...

Cross posted at Desicritics.

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