Rohit Shetty slams Dilwale, no hook-ups for Zoya Akhtar, Gauri Shinde hates slippers on sets

Five eminent filmmakers made candid disclosures in their chat with noted TV journalists in an interactive session at MAMI Film Mela.

Mayur Lookhar

Directors Gauri Shinde, Zoya Akhtar, Shoojit Sircar, Vishal Bhardwaj and Rohit Shetty came under one roof at the Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) Film Mela on Sunday (23 October).

The quintet, individually known for their own styles of filmmaking, opened up to television journalists Rajeev Masand and Anupama Chopra at a special interactive session. 

Doing away with the conventional format, Masand and Chopra kept it more like a rapid-fire interview. The five were sporting enough to answer some quirky and uncomfortable questions too. The idea was to put these filmmakers in a spot where there was no escaping.

One such tough question was whether the directors could reveal the most number of retakes required by any actor.

Expectedly, none of them revealed names, but Shetty didn’t hesitate in declaring that once an actor required 37 retakes. Akhtar brought the house down by declaring that even her dog wouldn’t take more than three retakes. Wonder who she was referring to here? Bhardwaj stated that his actors never required more than an average of five retakes, but it if stretched beyond this, then he has a quite word with the actor. Shinde said she would change the scene if an actor kept struggling, while Sircar would just cancel the shoot and resume the next day if things got too annoying. 

Such times would lead the directors to perhaps vent their frustration with a few unpleasant words. What would they be?

It’s ‘Maa ki aankh’ for Shetty, while Sircar would mumble Bengali words like ‘fatafati’. Bhardwaj said he didn't use cuss words, but during Maqbool he did lose his temper and shifted the shoot to the next day.

Shinde said she visited the restroom and vent her frustration on her assistant, while Akhtar said, "If I had such temper, then it’s that person who would need to leave.”

The hair and make-up artists are an Achilles heel for the quintet as they flash their mirror the moment a director says 'cut'. Akhtar said she didn't hesitate to ask them to get out. The fear of the mirror makes Sircar ensure that while a scene is on, the only people present near the actor(s) is the cameraman and the director.

It's not the action in front of the camera, but these filmmakers are particular about few things on the sets too. 

If you’re working in an Akhtar film, there’s simply no littering on the sets. “You need to respect the space where you're working, especially if it's at a real location and not sets. Sadly, Indians are trigger happy to litter around. I ensure that there are adequate dustbins around my sets.”

Bhardwaj's goal is to get the first shot done between 7am and 9am. Shinde asks her crew to wear shoes and watches. If you turn up in slippers, dare not go near her.

Shetty only gets serious while filming daring scenes. "I tell all, especially the light and set department to stay quiet when I’m shooting a dangerous action scene. After all, lives are at risk."  

The hosts also asked the directors when the realisation of their film not working occurs. Sircar said he got the hunch on the script table, Akhtar said she gauged it from the audience's language in a theatre. For Shinde, it’s her sharp instinct that tells her something is amiss.

What if the worst came true? And how do these filmmakers deal with the failure?

“You introspect and try not to repeat the mistake. Look, Golmaal 3 was one of the biggest hits that year, but everyone on the sets knew that we had made a crap film. Similarly, we got the villain wrong in Singham 2. In Dilwale, the Shah Rukh Khan-Kajol love story went horribly wrong,” said Shetty.

For Sircar, the Vicky Donor director, every film is a learning experience. “I will change many things. I'd go through the blatant mistakes of my earlier films. That’s why I never start filming till my script is finalised," said Sircar.

Bhardwaj said he has no sense of anger for he’s yet to taste his first big commercial success. “None of my films have ever made money. Most haven't worked and the few that did, we only recovered the cost. I had the fear of failure, but not anymore. I have chosen a path for the kind of films that I want to make. Javed Akhtar had once told me to make a film that will be appreciated by you, that will at least ensure one audience for the film,” Bhardwaj said.

Akhtar said she simply passes the buck to the marketing team and decides to move on. Shinde, who is just one-film old, rounded off the session saying, "I will find out soon with Dear Zindagi. If that happens then (Rajeev) I may not come back for an interview."

Phew, time to say cut it to this story. 

​The most valuable advice 

Akhtar: Mira Nair told me to stay true to the story and never hook up with actors.

Bhardwaj: Gulzar saab told me that I should never tolerate an actor’s bad attitude from day one of the shoot. If I allow it on day one, then I'd have to suffer for the entire film.

Shinde: Given by my husband R Balki, who said, “Go expose your core self, be naked, put your feelings out. Also Rajkumar Hirani once told me, never rush into filming without a solid script, no matter how much time it takes to write."

Sircar: There was this Scandinavian guy Yaikub I worked with. I had a bad habit of calling 'cut' quickly. I learnt from him that a director should only say 'cut it' 30 seconds after the shot is over.

Shetty: Ajay Devgn’s father Veeru ji told me, ‘Be honest to your work,  only then will your work be honest to you.