Farukh Kabir's Allah Ke Banday that tracks the journey of two boys who commit their first murder at the age of 12 and are sent to juvenile prison, was actually shot in one such prison. Its teenage inmates were super excited, so much so that location manager Liyakat Ali had a hard time keeping them away from the camera field during wide angle shots. Till he discovered the magic of movies.
"Liyakat started renting out DVDs and would play the movies in their rooms. Soon, they were so engrossed in what was happening on screen that they had little interest in what was happening off it," laughs Kabir.
However, the ploy proved futile when Naseeruddin Shah who enacts the role of the warden was on location. The writer-actor-director recalls how the kids were all jumping around the veteran star. "Naseersaab, whose son, Imaad, had a near-fatal accident when he fell out of a crowded local train exactly two years ago on the same day, became so emotional that he ordered a feast of biryani, jalebis, sweet kachoris and fruits," says Kabir. "Later, they all agreed that it was the best meal they had eaten in a long time."
Getting permission for the shoot wasn't easy. Prison officials wanted a copy of the script well in advance. "I tweaked the script so they'd believed I was showing the place in a good light, when it's a Pandora's box that I have opened," admits Kabir, adding that conditions are a lot more pathetic than have been depicted. "If I presented a stark picture what happens behind those walls, and that includes drugs, alcohol and daring escapes, you wouldn't be able to sit through the film."
He adds that around 65 children, all under the age of 17, are crowded into one ward, and 35 of them are facing murder charges. Staying around them, observing them closely, Kabir was able to incorporate little nuances into his script.
He says that initially, his two child actors were given chappals to wear. But then he noticed that most kids ran around barefoot, and their feet were black and filthy. "So then, my boys stopped wearing chappals too and eventually, I used those two pairs of dangling feet, along with two guns pointing downwards, as a metaphor to encapsulate the message that these little feet have grown bigger than their age and the delinquents after a stint in a remand home grown up to be hardened criminals," he points out.
Kabir says 127 kids were auditioned for the lead parts. Madan Deodhar who plays Vijay, who grown up to be Sharman Joshi, was found right at the beginning. Varun Bhagwat is Yakub who matures into Kabir. He was discovered towards the end.