This week Marathi director Pramod Gajanan Joshi who's making the Hindi-Marathi bi-lingual Chhodo Kal Ki Baatein (Kashala Udyachi Baat in Marathi) didn't know what hit him when just 15 minutes before the first day of shooting Anupam Kher announced to the director that he wanted his character to be blind!
The story goes that Joshi, new to the star system in Bollywood, thought Anupam was upset and was expressing his grievance in this way. But apparently Anupam not only insisted on his character going blind just minutes before the first shot, he refused to shoot until the change was made.
Says a source from the small-budgeted unit, "Anupamji announced just before the first shot that he felt his character would be better off as a blind person. Our director thought Anupam was joking. When Joshi Saab realized Anupamji was serious, he pleaded about the lack of time. 'How can the character that can see be turned blind just like that? So many adjustments have to be made in the script.' But Anupam was adamant. Joshiji had no choice but to shoot the normally-sighted character as blind."
Sachin Khedekar who plays Anupam's partner in Chhodo Kal Ki Baatein also pleaded that it was a little late in the day for such a radical change. But Anupam stood his ground.
Anupam doesn't deny the last-minute change in the script. "I did ask for my character to be turned blind. The idea came to me as I was going up in the lift to the location of the shooting. My character is supposed to be a social commentator. How much more effective his comments on the world around us would be if he was blind. I was actually inspired by a line from Swami Vivekanand who said, 'If there's anything worse than a man who cannot see, it's a man without vision.' My character's comments on the world all around him is so much sharper because he can't see."
This is the second time in his long career that Anupam plays blind. Once before he had been blind in Hum Hain Kamaal Ke.
But that was a part of the script. This time by introducing his character's blindness into the script at the last minute threw the unit into a panic.
Laugh Anupam, "It was rather irregular, I admit that. I don't think a character has ever been turned blind for the camera minutes before the shooting. But it was for the betterment of the project. I'm so happy that I've Sachin Khedekar as a co-star. He understands the idiosyncrasies of a performance. Sachin has started his career with my television company in a serial called Imtihaan which was directed by Imtiaz Ali who's today making Love Aaj Kal and Rockstar. So grant me the vision to see the future even when I'm playing blind."