The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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For the records, city role in The Rising

After Mani Rathnam, Ketan Mehta. After today’s youth, yesterday’s legend. After a grim look at the present, a blast from the past. If Yuva is the talk of the town this autumn, the spotlight will be firmly on The Rising this winter, as Ketan Mehta’s unit sets up base in Bengal to bring alive the revolt of 1857.

Though a major portion of “the biggest film from Bollywood” will be shot in Pune, New Delhi and Kazakhstan, a few key rolls will be canned in Calcutta and Barrackpore, where Mangal Pandey (the long-haired, heavy-moustached Aamir Khan) sparked the first uprising against the British.

And Calcutta is contributing big-time to the making of The Rising — much more than the publicity push of a prince playing clapper boy or an actress falling foul for her rising fees. From pre-production research to post-production special effects, this city is the “resource centre” for the Rs 60-crore film, also starring Amisha Patel and Toby Stevens.

“The director wants to be perfect in his depiction. To be factually correct, we have gathered information on rifles, cartridges, costumes and Bengal’s topography from a host of sources like Victoria Memorial, Fort William, Geological Survey of India and the National Library,” says Shravni Chopra, general manager, Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC). The Park Street-based training wing of Mehta’s Maya Entertainment Ltd has done the special effects for the first shot of the film and will also chip in with techniques like “crowded delegates and particle system” for the combat scenes. After an accurate pointer to the rifles used and the shape, size and colour of the cartridges — the ones that had triggered the rebellion led by ‘sepoy’ Mangal Pandey — from Fort William, Mehta has entrusted their manufacture to the Pune-based Institute of Arms and Ammunition.

“The Indian sepoys had a distinctive dress code, the details of which we dug out from National Library,” says Chopra. Based on these inputs, both the regimental and civilian costumes are being sourced from London-based agencies and a Mumbai-based designer, reveals Vishal of Kaleidoscope, the agency handling the film.

“As of now, the team is expected in Calcutta around February-March to shoot some scenes in Barrackpore and at Fort William. The rest of the barrack scenes will be shot at Pune Cantonment,” says Vishal. As with most period pieces — Chokher Bali being the latest example — identifying and sourcing the props to fit into the 1857 setting is proving to be one of the stiffest challenges facing Mehta’s back-up team in town. “Besides buying and renting them from various sources, we are even manufacturing some of them,” is the word from Vishal.

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