Monday, January 31, 2011

Shopping with Abhay Deol and Amba Sanyal for Costumes: Chapter 2: The Road, Movie Diary continues

Since this post originally posted on Feb 2010 is corrupted. Here I am posting it again.
For chapter 1 click here.

Till the day I entered Road, Movie's office in Bombay, I wasn't aware of who is playing the main lead in the film. All that my google searches told me was that it’s a story about a small town guy called Vishnu. Ah… I loved the sound of the name: Vishnu and all the wonderful mythological undertones that come with that name, and his interactions with Narada Muni. As an after thought, I think with the kind of promotions I am doing for the film I am Vishnu’s Narada Muni, the one who sings his praises to all and the one who gets life’s lessons from Vishnu. Vishnu in this case could be the director too!
Anyways that’s perhaps indulgence, taking the thought too far, as Dev would later explain the reason for the name Vishnu: the one who moves from chaos to order, which is what one will see the protagonist going through in the film.

When I asked Sopan: "Who will be Vishnu?"
He replied: “…Abhay Deol.”

That was July 2008. The name hadn’t rung any extraordinary excitement in me. A couple of months earlier to that, a senior from college had asked me to join The Making of Oye Lucky's shoot in Delhi for a fortnight or so, but I wasn’t able to. I knew that Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye had Abhay Deol playing the title character, Lucky. And here I was: Abhay Deol phir se. Is baar as Vishnu! Narada has again come to you!

I had seen only one film of Abhay, Manorama Six Feet Under. Had seen neither Socha na tha, Honeymoon Travels, nor Ahista Ahista or Ek Chaalis ki Last Local. All I knew about them was that they were films by fresh/new/first time directors except Shivam Nair, who I am told is a guru for a lot of young directors. But then I thought, it doesn’t matter, whether I had seen these movies or not. This movie was important, the actor would come next.

Cut to 2010, I know why "Abhay Deol" the name is so important to be attached with a movie like "Road, Movie". For me, the movie needs Abhay as much as brand Abhay needs a Road, Movie. "Tomorrow, the costume designer is going to come from Delhi, she would be needing an assistant for going around Bombay and picking up costumes for Abhay, would you be free by any chance?" asked the Line Producer. And the best line came now: "You will also have to go to the airport to pick her up in the morning" "Oh No, not again".
Some mental voice overs came. The placard, the arrival lounge, the hotel ‘welcome’ personnel and the whole idea of standing there, clueless. And this was going to be a domestic airport. Hell, standing on the International airport was still better. Like a choice between the fire and the frying pan.
But no experience is ever worthless, I showed some foresight – to avoid the "standing with a placard" I duly noted down her mobile number. So as soon as she arrived, I called her and the kind woman walked herself at the decided place at the airport.

These were the only and last set of directions I’d give her. Once in Bombay, my days were was directed. I was asked to accompany her to Abhay's home in Juhu, pick him and then go shop for his costumes. I never knew that actors too came along to shop for their clothes in the film. I thought it would be a "on the set" thing. Pretty naïve of me, the memory actually makes me remember the once clear ‘outsider’ that I felt. How quickly do things change? As soon as I entered Abhay's home, the first thing that I saw was a wooden clap from his movie: Manorama Six Feet Under. Impressed.

A little later, he and Amba, the costume designer started discussing about the colour palette, the tone, and the kind of costumes that would go with the feel of the movie. Abhay pulled out a few t-shirts and showed them to Amba. THEN, he thought that since I was accompanying Amba, I must be the costume assistant, so naturally he asked me to fold the t-shirts: I was caught: Forget costumes, I didnt know a thing about folding or ironing the clothes.
Yet another mental voiceover that remained just that: "Yaar maine kabhi apne kapde ghadi nahi kiye, aapke kaise karoon?" (I don’t know how to do this, haven’t done it for myself ever, how would I do it for you? Ghadi = fold in gujarati)

Not that I am some snobbish rich kid who has never done “ghar ka kaam”. But its just one of the things that I never learnt in my life. Call it the perils of growing up in a male dominated family: Two brothers and a father, all-depending on an over-worked mother. Actually, the mother never teaches you these things or rather she just pampers you all the way till that fateful first day in hostel and you realize "yaar, life has just begun". Maybe, if I had a sister, she would have made sure, I learn these simple things: Till date I can’t iron a shirt for myself. I still can’t tie a tie for myself. Ashamed. So there: I tried subtly telling him: "I am actually Susan's assistant and don’t know anything about..." (thank god some voices go past – come out – beyond the voiceover stage) He was quick to notice my being uncomfortable. That’s the human thing about a‘Star’, I always look in for. Like Zafar Khan, Hrithik Roshan’s character, interacting with those street kids in Luck By Chance or Dharmendra in Guddi. Even on sets, I had observed: Abhay had amazing patience and the idea of imbibing everything as it comes. Again impressed.

Soon, we were inside the car, Babbanji was driving. I kept talking to him about roads and traffic. We approached Khar linking road, shopping for Vishnu had to be done from here. On the way I heard the concept of ‘colour against a barren landscape’, those were magical words that came from Amba.
First Stop: The Pepe Retail store: Didn’t get the right clothes. Next: Adidas for Vishnu’s footwear. It was quite interesting; the salesmen in the shop didn’t recognize Abhay in the first 5 minutes, like all stars he too was in shades and a cap that almost covered his eyes. As soon as the salesman who was showing different samples realized that who the customer is, he quickly went inside. Moments later came a group of salesmen with different samples and buying strategies for ‘Abhay Deol’. I couldn’t help but smile, standing alone in a corner.
Next stop: Levis store, Bandra. Got the best t-shirts and trousers for Vishnu: Amba took 5 pairs of the t-shirt that you see Vishnu wearing in all the promos of road, movie or in the above picture. Some 4 pairs of trousers were bought. Its only then that I realized that since in the movie Vishnu will be in the same t-shirt throughout, therefore we will be needing atleast 5 different but same looking t-shirts! Point noted.

Now, just when we were leaving the store, the owner came rushing. He must have been told that Abhay Deol is here (pretty late I thought to myself-our shopping is already done), but he rushed in to meet ‘Abhay’ and requested for a photo-shoto and all that. Abhay had the shopping bag in his hand, so naturally the owner took the bag from him and passed it to me, who was standing next to him. The owner’s assistant (OA) came close to me, as the photo was being clicked, he asked:
OA: Tum Abhayji ke saath ho? (Are you with Abhay?)
Me: haa…lekin...(yeah…but…)
OA: (looking curiously now) kya karte ho… (what do you do?)
Before I could explain, he pressed the trigger and words from his mouth came out in slow motion:
OA: u..n..k..e d..r..i..v..e..r h..o?
(Are you his driver?)
Aargh…boom…The bullet pierced deep. I was like, “where to look?” or rather “where should I hit him in the face?” expression. In a caste-based, occupation-based divided India, I felt like he insulted me.

The Levis Store had a lot of mirrors. On instinct I turned and looked into one of them, and thought “yaar kapde to theek thaak pehne hai, T-shirt bhi tuck kiya hua hai…” (I am dressed up properly, what made him think so?)

While returning home I was again with Baban bhai discussing roads, traffic and life. The real life driver. Babban bhai had been taking us around the city on that day and its now that I realized that he was not only the driver but also owns his travel enterprise. He does have driver under him and also owns a wada paav shack. The idea that he takes pride in his job of driving and being a driver is not at all derogatory for him. Like didn’t Balram Halwai drive his clients to call centre, if a driver didnt turn up. The White Tiger Technology Drivers. So the conclusion, why am I making a big deal if someone misunderstood. The same conclusion again: Respect your job, whatever it is.
‘Yeh hai Bombay meri jaan’

Bombay, you had welcomed me in more ways than one. Ganga had lent a lot of space in his heart and some space in his flat’s drawing room and Road, Movie was engaging me in every little small work. I was in the middle of things. Always a sure way to learn. What’s there to complain?

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta


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