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Caught in Jail

india Updated: May 26, 2009 21:24 IST
Madhur Bhandarkar column
Madhur Bhandarkar column
Hindustan Times
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Just returned to civilisation after a 40-day stint in Jail. Don’t take me literally... I was referring to my 40 day shooting stint on the sets of my under- production film, Jail. We were shooting at ND Studio in Karjat. God! The sweltering heat of Karjat makes you feel as if you really are in the confines of a prison.

I seem to have a curious relation with ND Studio —whenever I have shot there in the winters I’ve always had my sets on the A/C floors of the Mumbai studio. But the moment it is May and the beginning of a gruelling summer, I always seem to find myself in an open studio under the hot sun. This was the case with Traffic Signal too. I shot the movie in May, outdoors in the terrible heat. Dehydration... heat strokes... ambulances standing outside the set had become a regular feature on those units. But I must confess, the memories were always cool.

Jail has not been an easy film to shoot... the experience was extraordinary. 400 actors including junior artists, a unit of 200 people and 40 days — it was a whirlwind. The first time I visited the finished the completed sets, I got goosebumps. Nitin Desai’s authenticity psyched me out.

Even though I am the director of the film, I felt jittery when I entered the sets — the barracks were filled with actors dressed like inmates. I had recently visited prisons as part of my research, and believe, these sets looked no less than real prisons.

Our shooting went on all through the day and night. We would begin at 6 am and at times the shoots would go on till 12 am. The gruelling hours, the heat however, did not deter the unit’s enthusiasm.

My actors — Neil, Manoj Bajpai, Arya Babbar or Mugdha — they all became the part of the dream team. However, it wasn’t always ‘all work no play’. Post the day’s shoot it was fun time for the boys, we would mimic everyone, play antakshari and have a blast. Barring the few days when the actresses were shooting with us, there were hardly any girls on the sets, mostly it was a Boy Gang that would chill out together.

It was a joke on the sets that the I had actually put the men in a real jail where there was not a single female in sight for almost 40 days. But the bonding among the men worked wonders.

Though it’s never pleasant to think of a jail, my journey to this one was one hell of a ride, and I hope that my audiences enjoy it as much as I did. Here’s hoping you’ll visit my Jail again and again.