Pune Memoirs (II): A tryst at FTII, friends and discussing cinema (10):
Pune, 2004/05: The dreams of making it big into movies was given wing one lazy afternoon as I sat idle in the messy room filled with books and magazines scattered all over the place. The modest Nokia 3310 buzzed and it was Apurva, my classmate, and friend at the other end suddenly asking if I can come to the Film Television Institute of India (FTII) in another hour. It was a diploma project that some of his friends were working on.
There was no question about it. I jumped on the opportunity and hailed the rickshaw to sashay my way at Law College Road where the institute is surrounded by the huge trees on both sides of the bustling road. I made my way past the gate and stood impressed by the towering Institute that sprawled over limitless acre where talents are groomed. After all, it is the place where the likes of Naseeruddin Shah, Mahesh Bhatt Danny Denzongpa, Mahesh Bhatt, Jaya Bachchan and Romesh Sharma graduated. I was already dreaming to make it big. It was going to change my life. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me as I stopped in front of the notice board in awe of the biggest names who would visit the campus during events.
Apurva hails from Madhya Pradesh and joined Fergusson College in the second year. It didn’t take us much time to bond over cinema, Mr. Bachchan and discussing the aspiration of making it big one day. He is now an assistant director in Mumbai and has worked with directors like Prakash Jha on Arakshan and Rajneeti. He also made a short film, Bang Gaali in the city. The sheer passion that we shared for films made him call me on this day and am forever grateful that through him that I was able to set foot inside the institute, a place that I would watch from outside at the bustling Law College Road. I met Gyanesh who is now a sound engineer in the industry and with whom I became friends since that day. Apurva and Gyanesh were doing the sound for a short film.
Films became a new world to me where I slowly understood the entire process of making sound and being gently told to switch off the cell phone inside the recording studio. You have to remove the shoes and walk silently to make sure that the recording is not interfered with. One wrong move and the whole thing go upside down which means back to square one, loss of energy, effort, and money. The short film was already canned and was playing right in front of us.
The scene we had to work was shot on a lady decked in saree and wearing bangles on her wrist. The idea was to create the tickling sound of bangles under the guidance of Gyanesh (Sir). At times, the sound we were making was going much ahead or at the other, crawling too slowly behind the scene. I was a bit confused and required supervision for things to be in synch with Apurv and Gyanesh. Retake was needed. The video was stopped. We sat on the floor to click rupee coins on the bangles held in a specific position on the palm to create the sounds. I got to speak on the megaphone from outside…mike testing okay to check if sounds were coming inside. What a world it is! No wonder film making is a tiring process but exciting at the same time. It was soon night fall.
I, Gyanesh and Apurv walked past the gate for chai and sutta. Walking inside the campus and surrounded by the huge trees in the Institute ushering the gentle breeze and flutter of wind that blows on the face or the cold waves kissing the cheek is the most beautiful thing as our steps took us around the institute and getting on the main road to gulp chai, munching samosa and having a fag to discuss cinema, college life and everything that falls under the sun.
Life was coming to full circle during my Pune days. A door has been opened for me. I couldn’t be more thankful to my stars how I entered the gate of the Film Television Institute of India (FTII). Next stop would be to become an Assistant Director for few more projects and may be, shoot a short film on my own.
There is something about FTII that sucks you inside. It’s an intriguing but soulful place. They say people from the Institute create their own world. How true! I saw it, right in front of my eyes and as you walk inside, you can spot students reciting lines in the open and discussing projects. Of course, there are many film stars who keep hopping in to counsel students on their projects and they are the perfect guide. The place breathes cinema.
It was on this day that I was somehow broke and sneaked out of the recording studio to send a message to one of my favorite cousins, asking him to tell my parents to credit my bank account. Strangely, he never responded. The time the shoot was over and strangely no money was sent. I remember it was a Friday and gave a call to my parents but what they told sent me into a rude shock. I broke down on the phone. The cousin has passed away. I went into hibernation and would wake up in the morning with tears in the eyes so much I had to wear sunglasses to walk on the road.
The days where the meaning of life was lost completely and it got me wondering how uncertain human existence can be. At that time, I was hanging out with Manish, Adi, and Kusum before we became flat mates. During one of our usual boozing party on Sunday, I was all low and sitting with them on the floor, smoking and pouring alcohol when Adi sensed that something was wrong. He casually asked that we go for a walk outside to have a smoke and we did speak about life. The moment made us bond together and we really hit it off. He let me be myself and vented out. There was no value judgment cast. It was during this moment of grief that our bond became stronger by the day. Manish spoke to me on life and shared his personal experience on how his Dad spoke to him when someone closed passed away.
It was the end of the second year in college. Of course, there was this stupid Environmental studies course and we were compelled to attend classes on Sundays or else we wouldn’t get our results. It was a Sunday. My mind was buckled to the TV watching the Filmfare award when everyone’s head was buried in their projects. Neraj came to join us and remarked, ‘You are too chilled.” On Monday afternoon, Adi told me how botched up my project was but was sorted out in time before they submit mine that was piled on them. By whole else? “You are such an asshole, man. We sorted out it out for you,” he laughed.
My love affairs would continue with films in the second year to discover the world of light, roll camera, action, and repetition. See you guys in my final year at Fergusson College.