The unit of Mohit Suri’s
Crook — It’s Good To Be Bad
is wrapping up the last couple of days of work, in Mumbai and not Australia. The Melbourne City Council inexplicably withdrew permission to shoot in public places, even at night, forcing the team to return to India where the balance is being shot.
Suri is livid: “I had a work permit and while I could understand their diktat of a seven-day turnaround at the beginning of the schedule that resulted in a five-day delay, I fail to understand why they would suddenly bring up the same clause towards the end of the schedule after we’d been in the country for two weeks,” he argues.
The unit returned to India on June 2 and Suri has now had to recreate Melbourne in the United Mills Compound and Kamalistan Studio and shoot the promos against a CG of the Melbourne skyline. Costs too have escallated. “I hope to wrap up the film by tomorrow. By August-September, I should be done with
,” says Suri.
Ask him if he is likely to return to Australia for another film after defying a ban call by other filmmakers, and he says, “I might go back, if I get a valid reason for this roadblock. I’ve shot in Hong Kong soon after it was taken over by China, and despite all the rules and regulations, it was smooth sailing. Even in Australia, we had friends who tried to help us. Aussie companies wanted to co-produce the film. It was only the Melbourne City Council that made things difficult.”
Nothing racial about it
The film touches on the headline-grabbing issue of racial discrimination against Indians in Oz. Was it the subject that made the Council jittery? “May be,” Suri acknowledges.
And will what happened find its way into his script? “No, I’ve always believed that racism isn’t a problem specific to a country, race or colour. It is a human problem. That’s the reason I insisted on shooting in Australia because banning the country would have made us racists too.”
Suri’s cousin and lead actor, Emraan Hashmi, echoes his views: “In every country, there is a set of people who are biased and you can’t blame the country for it. We had a great crew in Australia and shot on streets, trains and other public places without any hitch until the Council withdrew permission. I wouldn’t like to give racial overtones to what happened but I would like to know who was the crook in Australia.”