In early 2014, my friend Nidhi Bisht called me one evening. She asked me if I was free to shoot a video with TVF in a couple of days. The role was that of Eeshwar Bhagwan – a south Indian choreographer/director who is making a 200-crore film starring the “Bhai” of Bollywood. You can connect the dots. I didn’t have to think twice before saying ‘Of course, I’d love to’. She asked me to coordinate with Amit Golani a.k.a Golu who was to direct this video.
I had met almost the entire team of TVF when they came to watch our play ‘Who let the dogs out’ which incidentally is directed by Bisht. However, fate never presented me with an opportunity to work with them until this project. Bisht thought I would be fit for the part as she had seen me do a South Indian accent in our play and also some of my dancing skills.
I was called to the TVF office at Aaram Nagar at 1pm. I reached a few minutes before Amit and was staying out of the sight of some stray dogs (I’m very scared of dogs) when a rickshaw came and stopped before me. Amit paid the driver, greeted me and we walked inside. My experience has shown me that the most talented guys are also the ones who are the most humble. It took just a minute with Amit to know that he was one of them – a simple, earthy guy whose talent could intimidate you but presence, never will.
Many of my friends had already visited the TVF office but this was my first time. It was a new office they had recently moved into and everything looked messy. The door opened to a big room (more in length than breadth) where few plastic Nilkamal chairs were placed. I was surprised when a couple of days later, I saw the same room converted into a magnificent set for our shoot. A month later the left quarter of the same room was converted into a writer’s bay covered with hanging mats. (This is where all those terrific scripts now come from!)
Amit gave me a short narration of the script and called me for a reading later that evening. It was in the same office but further down from the main hall. The other end of the hall had a door which opened to a lobby attached to a small cabin. This was Arunabh’s office and the Edit bay. It further led to an open backyard with trees, and some benches where people chatted over chai and sutta. The whole team of TVF was already there – Arunabh, Bisht, Bisso, Jeetu, Raghav, Amrit, Prem, and Golu of course.
They told me that it was actually Arunabh, the founder of TVF, who was to play the part but had to back out at the last minute due to some other commitments. This is when Bisht had suggested my name. We started reading and everybody seemed to like the way I was reading my part. By the time we ended, I knew exactly what was required of me in the shoot.
I spent the next couple of days watching the south Indian director’s interviews and several of his dance videos. This guy was unbelievably spectacular! Out of the 100 steps I tried, I could only manage to get around 4-5 right. I practiced the accent and spoke with my roommates in the same accent till the day of the shoot. I read about his life and tried to get an insight of the kind of person he might be. Two days later, I still felt I wasn’t ready but it was time to go. There is no denying that I was nervous as shit. It was probably the most challenging role I had ever played on camera, certainly the meatiest and it was for TVF! I knew that thousands of people were going to watch this one.
The shoot was scheduled across 2 days. Day 1 was at the TVF office in Aaram Nagar and through the night into Day 2 at an office in Powai and an outdoor set in Madh Island. I had no clue how so many shots could be covered in such a short duration. I just went with the flow.
We started with the static bits where each actor just spoke to the camera like you see in the “making of” videos. This was followed by the dance sequence and other indoor scenes. Finally, the outdoor scenes were shot in Madh island. And so, we kept shooting scene after scene. Some scenes were wrapped up in no time but there were some so funny that the actors and the crew could barely control their laughter – like the scene where bhai learns his dance moves or the one where Khatrughan delivers her dialogue (Nidhi Bisht brings on her A game!). Every take left people in splits causing more retakes. Needless to say that it was all totally worth it!
The most irritating part for me was the beard. This was the first time I was shooting with a fake beard. It had to be stuck with a solution which was very… well… sticky! We were shooting in the beginning of summer so it was pretty hot. And while I hardly noticed anything when I was performing my part, the long breaks with the beard on were quite annoying.
Mercifully, one of the greatest things about working with the guys at TVF is that they are all at their humorous best regardless of how tense the situation or how hectic the schedule. Of course, they are all thorough professionals who know when to shut up and focus too. In general, they are a happy, hilarious bunch of people on set who maintain a convivial atmosphere and never make you feel bored. I guess this is what transpires in the work that they do.
Anyway, while it seemed impossible to me at first, the way the TVF team wrapped up the entire shoot in such a short while blew my mind away! I was eagerly waiting for the edit and when I saw the final video, I fell short of words to praise the team. I had seen their work but being a part of it was just an outstanding experience.
It is obvious that these guys are supremely talented. But that is never enough, is it? They are also smart, funny, efficient, and professional. But that doesn’t suffice too. I guess what does the trick is – how badly they want to do this and how much they are willing to put at stake. May be this is what the ridiculously overused word ‘passion’ really means! Be it the art direction team, the ADs, the actors, the director, the writers, the musicians or the founder – every person you see on the team in any TVF project is someone who really realllllyyy wants to be there. They love what they do and they put their heart, sweat and soul into it. It would be fair to say that they have dedicated their lives to this.
Regardless of who you are and what you do, one day with TVF can inspire you to follow your dream. And also make you feel how TVF deserves every bit of the success it has achieved.
If you guys at TVF are reading this – Bisht, Bisso, Golu, Anand, Deepak, Jeetu, Amrit, Raghav, Prem, Vaibhav and of course, Arunabh – I love you all and I have enjoyed every bit of my work and association with you! More importantly , you are a huge inspiration for me and so many others. Keep experimenting… Keep leading the way!