Capital on camera

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By A scorching Delhi summer right after a Ladakh shoot left Sabyasachi Chakraborty burnt - all for art's sake (Next week: Feluda shoots in Jhargram for Tintorettor Jishu)
  • Published 28.11.08

The Fiction is a short film shot on video in Delhi. It is director Spandan Banerjee’s second short. His first, Beware Dogs, was a documentary on the Delhi-based band Indian Ocean.

In The Fiction, Spandan asked me to play a Delhi-based Bengali working in the IT sector. The shoot was scheduled for the first week of June, soon after I had wrapped up my Ladakh shoot for Lahore. In fact, I was shooting in Delhi for the second time. The first time was for Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se. It was winter then.

I reached Delhi on June 2 and we started shooting two days later. The temperature in Khardung La, where we were shooting for Lahore, was -15° Celsius. In Leh, it was 7° Celsius. And when we reached Delhi, the mercury was fluctuating between 40° and 43° Celsius! The skin on my nose got severely sunburnt. It was peeling off too. My lips were chapped and my face got a dark tan. But Spandan said it would be just fine. So we started off, with the bulk of the shoot happening inside a car.

For The Fiction shoot, I had to drive about 100km every day. We shot on the stretch between Qutub Minar and Jor Bagh or Tilak Marg. And I had a tough time navigating through the heavy rush hour traffic. Today’s Delhi is very different from what it was in the Eighties, when I lived there.

Though the Calcutta traffic is frightening to most people from other cities, the speed and congestion in Delhi is something one has to get used to, too. I had to deliver my lines while driving, which made me a little self-conscious. My co-actor Sanjay Rajoura, from Sahibabad, was a natural actor. He was a great help.

We also shot on the way to Gurgaon, in an office in Gurgaon and in Spandan’s house. Most of the time, I had the windows rolled up and the air-conditioner on. When I had to open the windows, there was a blast of hot air. It was quite disconcerting. But there was a steady supply of fruit juice cans, chilled soft drinks and drinking water to beat the heat.

I was impressed with the way Spandan and our cameraman Mrinal Desai worked. The technicians were very good. Mrinal and his team got all sorts of fixtures to mount the camera in the weirdest of angles. At night, they even installed lights all around the car. I have seen the film and I feel they have done a great job.