Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Part II of the making of 498a-The Wedding Gift

This Sunday 15th July 2012, I was returning from the  Protect Indian Family Foundation weekly meeting. Fresh with stories of marital abuse on hapless men and few inspiring news about someone making gains in their fight. In the train, I was thinking I havent called up Suhaib bhai, but then I thought its a Sunday, lets not disturb him and made a mental note to call up next day for sure, without missing it. That's when the phone rang, it was Suhaib bhai. He said, we are editing the credit rolls for the movie and also will need the statistics. Come over to the studio in Andheri.

After about 2 hours, I found myself in the studio. Suhaib bhai was as usual in his '498a - The Wedding Gift' film white Tshirt and was seated with the Editor. He introduced me to Mr. Ray & Mr. Kush of the RaynBrotherhood duo. I was excited at once, to meet the music Directors of the film. Ray was present in his  tilted checkered flat cap. He mentioned of having been at the Bangalore Press conference and I later on remembered having seen him there. Kush smiled behind his connoisseur moustache and interrupted his work to greet me. Within a moment I was made to feel comfortable, something that has always been the hallmark of being with Suhaib bhai. I once more felt privileged to be in his company. He asked me to give details of all the groups that have been promoting the film. One by one I listed out the names, decided to name the Pan-India level groups first. First name obviously was 'Save Indian Family Foundation'. The group that is synonymous with relief, life, energy, support for many a harassed men in India and the umbrella organisation of other groups. I felt proud that am part of an activity that will feature SIFFs name prominently and lend its deserved space for posterity. Suhaib had listed out a few names already. After calling a few people from some chapters, we clarified the names of their groups and did spellchecks. There we were, the list was ready. Suhaib bhai then decided to add the names of cities. After a thorough check it was cleared.

The editor had put lesser time earlier on the acknowledgement frame, but when the names were listed, Suhaib bhai asked him to increase the timing. Then came the next page. It was about the films dedication to Syed Makhdoom. We needed a hard-hitting statistic which would take the message across. 'We need some figures of no. of arrests', suggested Suhaib bhai. No other name came to my mind, except our datamine, Niladri. Over the phone, he was quick with his data. He shared the 2011 statistics from NCRB for 498a and bang, we had a hammering statement ready on the frame. 'Every 3 minutes, 1 person is arrested. 91% cases found false.' These figures would rattle even an ignorant, for sure.

Then for the first time I was shown the film running. Suhaib bhai asked it to be put on the bigger screen. The acknowledgements showed up. The groups name were displayed, then the title music played out and one by one the names were unraveled. It was his well-known humility that made him ask my opinion at the end of the run. If it were any other person, it wouldnt have been as comfortable to tell the truth. But with him around, I gave my frank opinion. The Editor made changes as suggested by Suhaib bhai. Then he asked me to shut my laptop and concentrate on the music now. The Editor played the song sung by Sonu Nigam. 'Tu....' filled my heart. There was no doubt we had a winner. I conveyed the same to Ray and congratulated him. It was then that the Editor asked, 'May I suggest? Why dont we use this song as the title...?' Everyone jumped on the suggestion. It was a fantastic master stroke. When the titles were played again with the new song, it gave me goosebumps as the complete look and feel for the introduction of the movie got changed.

The film went on, the Editor with his sharp intellect was quick to snap in and cut wherever required to make the film crispy. A filler of the signal, removed. A synchronisation was required, adjusted. We saw 3 reels of the movie. I got the chance to watch 4 songs - Tu... by Sonu Nigam, Maana Vides.. by Ustad Ghulam Ali Khan saab, Hey Baby.. by Sunidhi Chauhan and then the last song by Shaan. The Editor again came up with fine ideas and made a few changes in the last song by Shaan. The final credit rolls had rolled in and I was still engaged in the movie. Suhaib bhai asked me 'What do you think?' and I had to make an effort to come out of the frame of mind that was engulfed in the movie. I gave him a thumbs up, it is a clear winner, I felt. 'It is entertaining' was all I could manage. 'That is what I would like to hear', said Suhaib bhai.

The Editor asked 'When are you releasing the audio?', 'Around 15th August, this would make waves with the patriotic song', he opined. I stepped-in and added the 'Tu..' song by Sonu Nigam would be taken well if already released around Friendship Day. Suhaib bhai hoped it would be out by then. Ray seconded that. Prayers were on all our lips hoping for the best. It was 1:30 AM already. We decided to call it a day. The final day of editing was over!

Later, we went to the hotel where Suhaib bhai was staying and on the way collected dinner. I have always known Suhaib bhai to be a very humble intelligent friendly man, his celeb status never comes across in any of his dealings, taking any hesitation out of the situation. Also, the down-to-earth attitude of Ray and Kush completely floored me. At the dinner table we were already like friends and shared stories. After that we left the hotel and started on our way. It was great of Kush to ensure that I get an auto and only then he left.

I was still thanking my stars for having given me the privilege of being part of this process. My heart was filled with gratitude for the team when I left. For them it was a movie. For some of them it was their debut - in music, in direction, etc; But the sheer magnanimity of the situation for me was that finally a message was going to be sent across about victims of draconian unconstitutional laws and this team is carrying it out.

Wishing them all the Success!
                                              - by Amit Deshpande

Part I of the making of 498a The Wedding Gift

Until now we have had a successful run with the promo efforts.
Our Press conferences at Bangalore, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Delhi all have contributed in bringing film in the limelight. Lucknow and Indore have had a pre-promo kind of events where the film is discussed along with other issues and got coverage. We have been successful in generating a buzz for the film. 

There will be a music release of the film songs once we have a tie-up with a music company. The contract is expected to be inked very soon, which will follow a music release function hopefully with the likes of Ghulam Ali Khan and other industry stalwarts attending it. While the film unit is giving its final touches to the print, they are in the process of finishing the shoot of the last song of the film, which is certainly going to be a head-turner.

I had the privilege to watch one more scene when I met Suhaib bhai in first week of May in Mumbai. There is a laloo-accented character with his features as a neta. I found the cameo hilarious and it only seems a precursor to what the whole film will be like. Also, I have already requested for a film screening whenever possible.

We are at the historic juncture where the long cherished dream of having a film on the subject is about to be realised.

- Amit Deshpande