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It's been bonanza time for some hawkers in Kolkata after Saif Ali Khan and Dinesh Vijan (his partner from Illuminati Films, their production house) decided to shoot for their untitled next, directed by Imtiaz Ali starring Saif and Deepika Padukone, in the city's Lake Market. Interestingly, Khan joins the B-Town brigade (Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, Sunny and Bobby Deol) of turning Sardar with this film. In Kolkata, he shot for his character dressed in a bright red turban and yellow shirt. Dinesh says, "Yes he comes in that get-up in the flashback part."
Says a unit member, "Last week, Saif was in Kolkata to shoot for his home production. The people he's made the happiest are the hawkers in Lake Market who were paid to clear the streets for the shoot. Saif and his production unit shot in Sardar Shankar Road in Lake Market. For their next schedule, they paid hawkers selling vegetables, fruits and fish on this street Rs 2000 each, and told them not to come for four days. The offer was given to not just the 100-plus hawkers in Sardar Shankar Road, but 300- odd hawkers from the Lake Market area too."
The source adds, "The hawkers were ecstatic. They struggle to make Rs 300 on normal days and for them to get Rs 2000 for four days without working for it basically a paid holiday was like a Durga Puja bonus." Producer Dinesh Vijan says, "Yes, Kolkata shoot went very well. We were there for five days and the people were very cooperative. We shot in the Lake Market area and since we took over somebody else's space, there was a commercial understanding. The hawkers were very happy. We took care of them for four days one day of pre-production preparation and three days of shoot." After Kolkata, the unit left for Delhi, after which they will shoot in Rajasthan and Patiala.
It wasn't just the hawkers who were happy. Houses in the same lane were re-painted to give them a period look this area being where Saif comes to look for his love Deepika Padukone. The brief given by Imtiaz Ali to art director Teddy Maurya was that he wanted to recreate a typical north Calcutta street or para (locality) of the '60s in Lake Market. Says Dinesh, "Since we were going in for a period look, we painted about four houses in the area. These buildings were at the crossroads where we shot. We even restored some of the houses back the way they were originally as some house owners wanted it that way."