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Indian Army: A family shoot

IT IS not easy for a civilian to step inside a defence installation, forget shooting a movie there. But what if Anupama Singh, wife of army chief J.J. Singh, is acting in the film, which is produced and directed by Sharayu Phalke, wife of D. Summanwar, the director-general of military intelligence? Instead of endless security checks and loops of the red tape, the army rolls out a red carpet.

india Updated: Jun 12, 2006 01:24 IST

Wives of top officers given unprecedented access for a privately funded film project

IT IS not easy for a civilian to step inside a defence installation, forget shooting a movie there. But what if Anupama Singh, wife of army chief J.J. Singh, is acting in the film, which is produced and directed by Sharayu Phalke, wife of D. Summanwar, the director-general of military intelligence? Instead of endless security checks and loops of the red tape, the army rolls out a red carpet.

At Dehradun's Indian Military Academy (IMA), Phalke and her team shot hovering helicopters and the dress rehearsal of the passing-out parade. When HT contacted IMA PRO Lieutenant Colonel A.K. Chauhan, he said he was "not sure" of it but had "overheard" that "some shooting" had taken place. He could not, however, give details of when such a shoot had last taken place at the IMA.

While the filming at the IMA and the Army Hospital in Delhi is over, the unit's next stop is Ladakh.

The Army House in Delhi explained that the defence forces had nothing to do with the project. They said it was "a private venture of an army wife", "a noble cause" nevertheless to project the lives of war widows and their ability to cope.

Apart from Anupama and Phalke, Summanwar's daughter Arti is playing the lead opposite Kunal Mehta, son of a major general. Summanwar's son Aditya is doing the background score in what is more or less a family project.

But did the "private venture" get easy access to defence establishments and the army's carte blanche to shoot? Especially when security clearances for filming come under the purview of the director-general of military intelligence, Summanwar. Anupama denied any special concession was given to the film. "On the contrary, things become difficult if you are part of the system," she said.

About her role, she said, "I am not an actor but they felt my presence would send a good message to war widows. So I agreed."

Anupama - who heads the Army Wives Welfare Association - has clarified that it is not financing the movie, slated for commercial release later this year.

Phalke -- a grandniece of the grand old man of Indian movies Dadasaheb Phalke -- said the film was made on a shoestring budget: "It is digital shooting and we have not spent very much." The film, she said, was personally funded by her, her daughter and friends.

Phalke, incidentally, wanted Singh and Summanwar to act in it but permission was denied "as army officers are not allowed to act".