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The real in ‘Realistic’

With Bollywood churning out movies inspired by real people and incidents, it is not surprising to know that directors and their teams leave no stone unturned to research their subject and characters.

bollywood Updated: Apr 03, 2012 14:15 IST
Dibyojyoti Baksi

With Bollywood churning out movies inspired by real people and incidents, it is not surprising to know that directors and their teams leave no stone unturned to research their subject and characters. From travelling far and wide in the country to hunt for prospective sources to turning to books, a good story develops through good research, as these three directors will tell you. Kunal Deshmukh, Sanjay Gupta and Tigmanshu Dhulia give first person accounts of their experience of working on their ambitious film projects.

Research revelations
I got to know that people who sell guns don’t do it for money. They do it for power. Also, a gun trader would rather renovate his dilapidated home than live in a plush neighbourhood. Hence, unlike Jannat where I showed Emraan living in a huge bungalow, in this movie, he lives in old Delhi.

A legal arms dealer also told me that the traded guns usually come from the China- India border and the Indo-Pak border. Apparently, the Pakistani armed forces sell guns. These are called star pistols because they carry a star symbol. Also, blacksmiths make country-made pistols or kattas or tamanchas, from scrap metal. Blackmarketers also buy their goods from sports shooters, who usually dispose of them after tournaments.

‘My research revealed that gun traders want power, not money’, Kunal Deshmukh, Director of Jannat 2

In the film, Emraan Hashmi plays an arms dealer. First I looked into what I could do to make Jannat 2 an engrossing film. Building Emraan’s character of an arms dealer came in later. I remember watching a story on a news channel on the illegal arms trade, which revealed that Delhi is the country’s gun capital. Also, I’d watched a fascinating documentary on the subject. These films helped me in writing my script — creating a framework, character sketch and building a love story.
Docu-drama or mass entertainer?
I asked myself these questions: Am I making a docu-drama on the gun trade culture, or am I trying to show how to find guns easily in the market? Is it going to be a film on gun trading or mass entertainment? Also, the audience had to associate with the original Jannat.

Insights by insiders
I spoke to a supercop in UP who had worked in the interiors where these guns were made. I also spoke to Mangesh Kashyap, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Delhi and interacted with many arms dealers.

‘The dacoits we met carried loaded guns’, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Director of Paan Singh Tomar
The film was based on the real life story of a national-level athlete who turned to banditry. Iread about Paan Singh Tomar in an article in a magazine called Sunday. He was an army man and a national athelete who turned into a ferocious robber.

Journalistic research
We had to work like investigative journalists to find information about Paan Singh. We met surrendered dacoits in Chambal, but they preferred to speak about themselves rather than Paan Singh. Also, we could not pressurise them for details – they all had loaded guns!
Finally the watchman of the circuit house told us about Paan Singh’s village, from where we got inputs.

‘People had different versions of the same story, I had to take a call on how to use the facts’, Sanjay Gupta, Director of Shootout At Wadala

The film is based on real life events - the first ever encounter shooting in Mumbai. It took us around eight to 10 months to get intricate details. By then, we had figured out how much truth and how much fiction to show in the movie. Since it’s not a documentary, some parts have been dramatised but we wanted to stick to the original facts.

We met people from the underworld, the police and journalists from that era. We met Sanjay Raut, a Shiv Sena MP, who had been a witness to the encounter. Since we met many people who had different versions of the same story, I had to take a call as the director on how to use these facts in the film.

Literary references
My biggest reference was writer and journalist S Hussain Zaidi’s book, Dongri to Dubai, which is about to release. This book is like an epic crime saga. He has documented the underworld from the 1930s to the mid 1990s.
I also read a few fabulous books on the underbelly of Mumbai, such as Maximum City, Bullet for Bullet, Mumbai People, Make Mafia.

Press and police
We met police officers who retired as ACPs but at that time were inspectors and sub-inspectors. The one who was involved in Manya Surve’s encounter was Isaque Bagwan. Raja Tambat and Suresh Walishetty, who were also involved, gave us huge inputs.
A lot of past press article were major sources of information.