Bela Sehgal’s directorial debut, Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi, has got the nod of approval from a community hard to please. Parsis have not only opened their hearts to this quirky love story, but also their homes.
Bela’s unit was allowed to shoot portions of the romantic comedy in Dadar’s Parsi colony where Aamir Khan’s Talaash was filmed earlier. She also filmed in Cusrow Baug in Colaba where no film unit has been entertained before.
Her lead actor, Boman Irani, lives in Dadar’s Parsi colony and his wife sent food for the entire unit while they were shooting there. Soli Marker, an 83-year-old actor who plays a significant role, lives in Cusrow Baug and would drive down from Colaba to shoot.
“Once or twice we couldn’t shoot with him, but he never complained. Except for one actor, the rest of my cast comprises Parsis or half-Parsis like the heroine Farah Khan and veteran actors Shammi and Daisy Irani. Most of them are above 70 and some like Soli are 80-plus,” says Bela.
While seeking permission, she would assure the residents that the Parsi community would not be mocked through stereotypes in her film and everyone would take the utmost care to ensure that the colonies were not littered.
“We cleaned up every scrap of paper after pack-up,” says Bela. She also filmed real people living there. “Random shots of an old couple sitting on a bench, kids playing football and people going about their daily chores, to add colour and atmosphere.”
Shirin is a 40-plus spinster who finds her match in a bra and panty-selling salesman, Farhad, and the film tackles the subject of marriage that invariably becomes an issue with parents once children cross the socially-accepted marriageable age.
“I tied the knot when I was 28 and every time my mother brought up the topic before that, I’d tell her not to worry, someone, somewhere, was waiting for me,” says Bela. “Now my brother Sanjay (the film’s producer Sanjay Leela Bhansali) has to answer the same questions. He tells her he’s open to the idea provided he finds Ms Right. Meanwhile, he’s married to his movies.”
Except for one actor, the rest of my cast comprises Parsis or half-Parsis like actors Farah Khan , Shammi and Daisy Irani
—Director Bela Sehgal