The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Behind the scenes

Film: 15 Park Avenue

Location: Hotel Gangtey Palace in Paro, Bhutan

Stars: Rahul Bose and Shefali Shah

On screen: Joydeep (Rahul), who is holidaying in Bhutan with family, spots his schizophrenic ex-girlfriend Meethi and follows her. When he returns to the hotel, wife Lakshmi (Shefali) confronts him about where he had disappeared.

Off screen: Director Aparna Sen is all ready to go for a rehearsal before the take, her eyes glued to the monitor. But thanks to the strong wind, she can scarcely catch what the two actors are mumbling at the table, only a few steps away.

With a pained look on her face, Shefali shivers with teeth clenched, having taken off her overcoat on the near-freezing March morning. Sen shouts out: 'Poor thing! Someone please put a heater near her feet.'

But Rahul, who was playing pranks till a few minutes ago, tries out a few different expressions (of how Joydeep reacts to his wife's allegations) and asks: 'Is it okay' The director is satisfied, but not the actor. 'Okay, and what do you think of this' he emotes a few more times and Sen nods her approval.

'Is this fine or should I look a little more lost' Rahul goes on. 'Oh Rahul, come on! He is too much of a perfectionist' ' is the exasperated chorus from the sidelines. What with the wind blowing harder and the chill numbing the bones, everyone can't wait for the scene to get over.

Aside: And in case you missed the girl in jeans and shoulder-length hair walking past Rahul and Shefali at the table, with her back to the camera, take a harder look the next time you catch the film. That's Konkona Sen Sharma playing an 'extra'.

Film: Parineeta

Location: Between Tindharia and Rongtong stations in Siliguri

Star: Saif Ali Khan

On screen: Shekhar (Saif) makes love to Lolita (Vidya Balan) after a mock marriage but the very next day he has to rush off to Darjeeling to seal a business deal. Sonu Nigam's lilting song Yeh hawaein punctuates Shekhar's romantic sojourn through the hills.

Off screen: The flashback to the Mere sapnon ki rani toy train sequence starring Sharmila Tagore is lost on none. The place 'takes me back to a different time', admits son Saif.

But the Chhote Nawab is in too adventurous a mood to dwell too long on the past. He shares with everyone who cares to listen how he would like to be part of a James Bond movie and how he would play the super sleuth Agent Vijay. He also wants to make a mystery horror movie where a tiger kills all the villagers one by one.

While director Pradeep Sarkar is busy setting up the shot ' getting the toy train to move at a certain pace and in a certain direction ' Saif is munching on fresh fruits and pondering over which film he would like to make his directorial debut with.

Film: Antarmahal

Location: Santoshpur stadium

Stars: Abhishek Bachchan and Raima Sen

On screen: Bihari potter (Abhishek) in a playful moment with his wife (Raima) in his village home. It's a sensual day dream triggered by his sculpting of the goddess.

Off screen: With word getting around that Abhishek is camping on the stadium grounds, people are crowding the iron gates where the security guards are having a tough time shooing them away. Some Bachchan fans have climbed the adjacent wall, while even a few cops have left their positions to catch some of the action on the sly.

To make matters worse, a couple of photographers have slipped into the thatched hut, where Abhishek and Raima are enacting the intimate scene. The small room is packed with men and machines, and director Rituparno Ghosh is in a flap.

Raima ' who is to come tumbling down on Abhishek after he pulls her pallu ' isn't getting her 'fall' right. So, Rituparno springs to his feet, shows her what is to be done and makes Raima go through the playful seductive sequence quite a few times before the take.

Aside: 'I hope the bed doesn't break!' quips Abhishek, sprawled bare-chested on the rickety bed and toying with a digital camera he's taken from one of the 'trespassing' lensmen to check out his own images.

Film: Mangal Pandey ' The Rising

Location: National Library

Star: The Calcutta landmark

On screen: There is a big ballroom party where the British have a war of words about the treatment meted out to Indians. The majestic staircase shown outside the party venue is actually the entrance to the Library.

Off screen: There is a buzz on the library campus that Aamir Khan is coming to shoot for a Mangal Pandey sequence. Terms like 'patchwork' and 'establishing shots' hold little meaning for starstruck fans who have crowded the Alipore landmark to catch a glimpse of their hero.

There was no Aamir in sight, but when the same fans went to see the movie, lo and behold, there was the man on the National Library steps he had never climbed!

Cinematographer Himman Dhamija and special effects man Brynley Cadman, in charge of the Calcutta schedule, shot the sequence in such a way that they could easily add Aamir's frame to the setting on the editing table. So there's a huge black block in the middle of the frame, where Aamir will fit in, once the hurly-burly of shooting is done.

The crowds aren't amused, as all they get to see are reluctant horses and junior actors dressed as soldiers. And with the crew spending hours mulling and brooding over that one shot, the crowds disappear by the time the 'perfect' take is canned.

Film: Faltu

Location: Sian, near Santiniketan

Stars: Yash Pandit and Manjari Fadnis

On screen: Villagers have flocked under the tree from which Tuktuki (Manjari) has hanged herself after learning a secret about friend Faltu.

Off screen: A crew member slings a padded rope around Manjari, who is draped in a cotton sari. With the help of a pulley, another technician yanks her up in the air from a branch and the girl lets out a big scream. The camera cranes its long neck to catch the villagers' shocked expression and Manjari's dangling feet, but cinematographer Sirsha Roy has a tough time getting both things in the frame.

So Manjari is hauled down, then pulled up again, left dangling for some time, is dragged down and drawn up again... After an almost comical hour of Manjari: The Rising and Falling, the tragic shot is canned.

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