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Real cinema in real cities

Bobby Jasoos mirrored life in the Old City of Hyderabad

Bobby Jasoos mirrored life in the Old City of Hyderabad  

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Moghulpura in ‘Bobby Jasoos’ to Rajouri Garden in ‘Queen’, stories unravel in real locations

Script writer Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh and director Samar Shaikh had originally set the story of Bobby Jasoos in Mohammad Ali road, Mumbai. They had a 108-page script when they approached producers Sahil and Dia Mirza, who suggested the story be told in Hyderabad’s Old City. Sanyuktha and Samar visited Hyderabad and were instantly charmed. “The architecture and crowd of Moghulpura had a lot of character,” says Sanyuktha. The duo took the script back to their writing desks and reworked it over two months. In another time, a mainstream filmmaker may have spared himself that effort. But this is a time when the audience can easily spot a film that pretends to relate to its surroundings.

With a broad brushstroke, one might associate Delhi and Punjab with over-the-top weddings. Look closer and there are enough films now that differentiate a Chadha from a Verma and a Mehra. The last group got its pride of place in Vikas Bahl’s Queen. Having grown up in Lajpat Nagar, Bahl knew the locality and the people he spoke about — middle class sweetshop owners of Rajouri Garden. Yet another film set in Delhi, Ankhon Dekhi took viewers into Fatehpuri and its cramped living spaces. Then, there was Ishaqzaade set in politically volatile UP, Shuddh Desi Romance that took live-in relationships away from metros to Jaipur and Kahaani where Kolkata become a part of the story.

“There are stories in which the milieu becomes part of the plot,” says Sanyuktha. “Samar and I wanted to tell a story of a Muslim woman, who is past what is considered the prime age for marriage. And she aspires to be a detective, not a doctor or an engineer. The setting is vital to a story like this. Where Bobby lives, it is unusual for a woman to be out at night by herself, unlike in Mumbai.”

A dialogue coach (Abbas Mallik) was roped in and costume designers sourced clothes from the locality. “We stopped people on the roads, spoke to them and bought things off them — clothes and accessories. With these prototypes, the rest of the clothes were ‘aged’. We didn’t want women wearing brand new clothes while at home,” adds Sanyuktha.

Be it Bobby Jasoos or Queen or Shuddh Desi Romance, the teams haven’t had it easy dealing with crowds while shooting in real locations. Maneesh Sharma who directed Band Baaja Baarat before Shuddh Desi…, says the effort was worth it. “If these stories had been told from inside a studio, the characters wouldn’t have had the same voices,” he says. It was writer Jaideep Sahni’s idea to talk about live-in relationships in a smaller city. “Rajasthan, in a Bollywood map, would mean forts and palaces. But youngsters here also have aspirations similar to that of their peers in Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore. I found it exciting to discuss this point of view from Jaipur’s cultural settings. Also, the hired baaratis we show in the film exist only in places like Jaipur, Haryana and Punjab,” he says.

After an extensive location hunt, Maneesh and team finalised the middle class locality where Parineeti Chopra lives. “We do have shots of touristy places like Amer Fort, but the story is in this middle class locality. Likewise, I had to shoot Band Baaja… in the gullies known for wedding bands. There’s a lot more to Delhi than Qutb Minar and India Gate. Someone in the audience should be able to relate to the location and say he or his friend lived there. Films like Do Dooni Char and Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye give viewers the real essence of Delhi,” he says.

Next up is Habib Faisal’s Daawat-e-Ishq that promises to present the ethos of Lucknow and Hyderabad on screen. Aditya Roy Kapur is a chef from Lucknow and Parineeti, a shoe seller from Hyderabad’s Old City. The bonding happens over food, offering plenty of scope to bring to life the old world charm of these two cities.

Delhi: Ankhon Dekhi, Do Dooni Chaar and Band Baaja Baarat

Kolkata: Kahaani

Lucknow and Hardoi: Ishaqzaade

Jaipur: Shuddh Desi Romance

Hyderabad: Bobby Jasoos

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 10:37:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/real-cinema-in-real-cities/article6228491.ece

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