Until a few years ago, an informal chat with a Bollywood star on a show like Koffee with Karan garnered lots of attention. Just watching the actors being their own selves on television was gripping. Now imagine watching them do their job. This aspect of filmmaking — behind the scenes — is slowly, but steadily gaining popularity in Bollywood, catering purely to those reality entertainment fans.
Recently, Rajkumar Hirani added some candid images of his cast from 3 Idiots in the official screenplay, which was released as a book last week.
What started with interviews with actors, directors and technicians, cut back and forth with actual footage of the film, has now developed into a distinct style. This style has led to the creation of a separate specialised profession. A leading name in this field happens to be No Nonsense Productions.
Responsible for shooting behind-the-scenes’ footage for many blockbusters, Jerrit John, the owner, now feels it truly has caught up with the Hindi film industry. He was always interested in getting involved in the industry, but had never thought of this route until he was offered the first project for a "miserable amount of money".
"We started with Don, with Excel Entertainment. Farhan (Akhtar) contacted us about three years ago. We had to be on a film set all day and had unrestricted access to everything on the set," says John, who recently finished the behind-the-scenes for Anil Kapoor’s Aisha.
Older Actors feel we’re Spy Masters
But young directors like Puneet Malhotra (director of I Hate Luv Storys) and Ayaan Mukherjee (director of Wake Up Sid) are cool. Akshay Kumar, all the Khans, and the Kapoors are open to the camera behind-the-scenes.
Access not Denied
In some films, we have unrestricted access, but in some we don’t. It was great fun working with Farhan Akhtar — the man is a storehouse of talent. Watching him sing, write, act, direct can just amaze anyone.
During the shoot of Wake Up Sid, Ranbir Kapoor got scared of a pigeon that randomly flew onto the set, and he jumped behind Konkana Sen Sharma. It was hilarious! He gets scared of pigeons and water.
Sometimes, we shoot 100 hours, over 90 to 100 tapes. Then we cut it to 22-odd minutes or 1.5 hours for the extended version. Sometimes, they need some footage for PR activities etc. We had the footage of Aamir Khan’s accident during Ghajini, which was then circulated for a PR activity.
No Nonsense’s others
Slumdog Millionaire, Don, Rock On!!, Luck By Chance, Honeymoon Travels, My Name Is Khan, Delhi-6, Saawariya, Sarkar, Sarkar Raj, Wake Up Sid, Kurbaan, I Hate Luv Storys, Once Upon A Time In Mumbai, 99, Aisha, Love Aaj Kal, Ghajini, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, Dus Tola, among many others.
We can’t let each behind-the-scenes film look the same… so the filmmakers ask us to give them ideas to make it look different. In Delhi-6, we actually placed a permanent extension in front of the camera — the white arc — and shot the entire thing. In Rock On!!, we shot the entire thing like a book, and made each character a chapter. Rakesh Omprakash Mehra was really enthusiastic about the idea. He did a walk-through around all the main locations in Delhi and places where Delhi-6 was shot. We have to shoot interviews with the cast as well. So, in I Hate Luv Storys, we put an acrylic transparent sheet and spray painted some stuff on it. So, on screen, the actors can be seen through the colours splashed on the sheet.
‘Ram Gopal Varma called, and I said, Who is this?’
I got a call from Ram Gopal Varma early one morning. I didn’t have his number. He said, “This is Ramu,” and I said, “Who Ramu?” He said, “Ram Gopal Varma.” I jumped! He said he really liked the behind-the-scenes work. Then I met Abhishek Bachchan, and he asked me if Ramu had conveyed his message about the behind-the-scenes work (laughs).