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Bollywood not a bed of roses

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Monday, July 10, 2006
Mumbai (UNI): The mega stardom of Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan might be garnering praise and accolades all over the world, but not many are aware of the hardships or the 'darker side' which the stars face to become icons. With Bollywood full of 'behind the curtain' stories of how the actors, filmmakers and singers have struggled to make it big, the filmmakers today make the youngsters cautious in the beginning only to prepare them for a tough life ''to shine on the silver screen.'' They are trying to make the debutants aware of the fact that in Bollywood is not just glamour, glory and grandeur. It has a dark side also, and people who have gone through the grind know about it.

Filmmaker Akbar Khan, who has made the magnum opus Taj Mahal and is preparing for his next venture 'Changez Khan' told UNI that ''Everything that glitters is not gold. Same is the case with Bollywood. Behind the scenes are the toil, challenges, hardships and rigours. It is a labourer's job and here, one has a mental pressure equivalent to that of an executive in a corporate. ''It is more of a creative pressure. One is yet not sure whether the film will succeed or not. The filmmakers live from project to project, they are as good as their last film. Their stocks keep changing in the market, coupled with the outlash of the media and the critics. Respect comes after a lot of toil and hard work. It is not as rosy as it looks.'' he maintained.

However, Khan said the pressure on a filmmaker is more than on others. ''The advice I would give a newcomer is he should have done self-analysis that he is ready to go through what it takes. They should know that they are not here as starry-eyed people or for the glamour.'' ''Nowadays, I see that the youngsters who come in the industry are all graduates. They have an education to fall back upon, unlike the things that were in our times. The advice I would like to give is they should have an alternate plan to fall back upon, rather than put all eggs in one basket,'' he suggested.

Director Kunal Kohli of Hum Tum and Fanaa fame said, ''For Fanaa we shot in minus-22 degrees Celsius temperature for 10 hours every day for a month in Poland. It is a lot of hard work. For a 0700 hrs shoot, the entire unit had to wake up at 0400 hrs. This is cent per cent hard work. There are times when we work for 48 hours at a stretch.'' ''May be only the actors get all the adulation. But even they work very hard. They sacrifice the time they could have spent with their children. Our shooting conditions are bad - hot and sticky, and despite such hardships, we are not sure whether the film will do well,'' he said. ''My advice to an entrant into Bollywood would be to come here only if he is prepared to work hard,'' he added.

Legendary filmmaker B R Chopra's son Ravi Chopra, who tasted succcess recently with the Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini starrer Baghban, and is now making Babul, said, ''Our work involves a lot of hard work. We work crazy hours. When an idea grips you, you work long hours in the night. Sometimes, we start our shooting at 0800 hrs and work on till after 2200 hrs. And then, we have to be back for shooting the next day again in the morning.'' ''Our work mostly involves human resource. If people fall ill we can't help it. We have to work extra to make it up. Though it might look easy, it is not. Out job is tougher than that of the corporates. They can at least go home in the evening. If I go home at 1800 hrs, my wife will not recognise me'' he said.

He said his advice to the Bollywood entrants is that they should be prepared for hard work and hardships both, if they want to be a part of the glitzy industry. Entrants into the industry grab roles, cut each other's throat and will go to any length to make their way in. It is a depressing scenario at times. He said in this age of cut-throat competition everywhere, even filmmakers should know the pulse of the audience, otherwise the whole effort of a huge team involved in a film goes waste. He also said in contrast to the youngsters, it is easy for those having connections, as ''they at least do not have to worry where their next meal will come from.'' He also claimed that there have been instances where people left their good jobs for the sake of making a career in Bollywood and today are spending life in recluse, living in chawls and huts, struggling to arrange their daily meals.

A cameraman, who did not wish to be named and has spent 41 years in the industry said, ''You spend one day on the sets of shooting and you will see some truths.'' He said, ''Here, success has nothing to do with talent. It is all about being at the right place at the right time. Thousands of people come to Mumbai but only one per cent make it. It is a sad fact that extremely talented people work for a few projects and disappear.'' ''I can give you several examples of hardships in Bollywood. A 28-year-old stunt man met with an accident on the sets. He had been paralysed waist downwards and was paid a sum of Rs 10,000-15,000 as compensation. Besides, at times stuntmen die performing risky shots.''

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