Although it’s natural for the cast and crew to be paid their dues for their work in films, on rare occasions the remuneration is in kind. One such instance that comes to mind is Vidhu Vinod Chopra presenting Amitabh Bachchan a Bentley car as fee for Eklavya – The Royal Guard (2007). But that was a big budget film. When it comes to small-budget movies like Amol Gupte’s children’s flick, Stanley Ka Dabba, remuneration can be a different deal altogether. While Amol paid his team a token fee, singer and composer Shankar Mahadevan demanded a fee of another sort— a pot of home-cooked mutton.
Confirming the singer’s odd request, Amol says, “Shankar knew about my culinary skills. I had previously cooked mutton during Taare Zameen Par (2007) and he had heard about it then. So when I asked what he would charge for singing the song in my film, he said he wanted a pot of mutton, cooked by me.” Later, when the director took the goodies to the singer, they had a “great mutton pav party.”
Not surprisingly, other singers like Shaan, Vishal Dadlani, Hansika, who have contributed to the soundtrack of the film, also provided their services pro bono. “Vishal said that he doesn’t sing for money, but for himself. He said he loved the song, so he sang it. Shaan and Hansika also sang for the spirit of the film,” enthuses Amol, adding that initially he didn’t know how to approach them.
He further recalls, “They all said that they would record their songs first, and then talk about money. Even actors like Divya Dutta, Raj Zutshi and Divya Jadale, reluctantly accepted a token fee, because I insisted. I’m very happy with the five wonderful songs composed by Hitesh Sonik that are a part of the soundtrack. He has been working with Vishal Bhardwaj all these years.”