In 1966, director Pramod Chakravorty became one of the first Indian filmmakers to use a sweeping aerial shot from a helicopter in his film Love In Tokyo, starring Joy Mukherjee and Asha Parekh.
More than half a century later, his grandson Prateek will be using the same shot, now commonplace, in his directorial and acting debut, From Sydney With Love. "I'm using the shot more for stylistic purposes than as a tribute," says Prateek, 31.
His film, however, is a sort of tribute to his beloved grandfather and the banner he founded - Pramod Films, one of the most successful Hindi film production houses in the 1960s and '70s, which went through a dramatic decline thereafter [see box Then and now].
Prateek plans to stage a comeback for the banner with From Sydney…. Set for release on July 27, this will be the first Pramod Films release in 14 years. "I'm inspired by my grandfather's cinema," he says, "but I want to make my films in my own way."
For Prateek, cinema has always been part of life. One of his earliest photographs, taken by his grandfather when he was a year old, shows him standing next to a film camera.
But even though stars such as Dharmendra and Rishi Kapoor dropped by every so often to meet his grandfather at the family's Santacruz home, Prateek says his was the 'most non-filmi filmi family ever'.
His father, Pramod's only child, stayed away from Bollywood altogether, choosing instead to become an engineer.
When Prateek was nine, his father was offered a lucrative job in the US. Prateek, who was very attached to his grandfather, chose to stay back, even though his mother and younger sister were moving there too. "I had this feeling that if I left my grandfather alone, there would be no one to take care of him," he says.
Prateek eventually graduated, in Commerce, and, in 2004, flew to Sydney to pursue an MBA. "I always wanted to become a filmmaker," he says. "But my grandfather told me to complete my studies first."
It was in Sydney that Prateek wrote the first half of his first script, a humorous look at the experiences faced by Indian students overseas. During a visit in December, he showed the script to his grandfather, who said it had great potential as a good family entertainer.
A week later, Pramod Chakravorty died of a heart attack, leaving Prateek devastated and rudderless. He spent the next two years completing his degree and supervising the redevelopment of his grandfather's bungalow into a four-storey building.
In 2007, he also enrolled in a two-year course in film direction at Whistling Woods International (he dropped out after a year, feeling he had learned what he needed to) and subsequently assisted producer-director Vipul Shah on films such as Singh is Kinng (2008), London Dreams (2009) and Action Replayy (2010).
Last year, pooling together all his savings, he finally decided to take the plunge into filmmaking.
"I feel my MBA degree certainly helped," he says. "Making a film is essentially project management, which is what an MBA teaches you to be good at."
He calls From Sydney... a family comedy, or a 'fam-com'. Admitting that it is a 'safe' venture, he says he is aiming for acceptability. "This industry has a short memory. I'm hoping to remind them of what the banner once stood for," he says.