NEW DELHI: Highly accomplished Bollywood producer and director, Boney Kapoor, shared with The New Indian’s Executive Editor Rohan Dua, how he, in collaboration with director Shekhar Kapur, successfully created India’s first science fiction film, ‘Mr. India.’ This remarkable achievement was realised without relying on special effects; instead, they meticulously filmed every element using traditional camera techniques, defying various challenges along the way.
What made Mr. India the sci-fi phenomenon
When asked about where Kapoor derived inspiration while making and producing Mr. India, he said that it was never his idea, rather it was a script made by the Salim-Javed duo.
“It was never my idea. The script was initiated by Salim-Javed and when they parted, they divided the scripts among themselves. The story I had given to Javed sir. Initially, me and Javed sahab were to produce this film with Ramesh Sippy as the director and Amitabh Bachchan as the actor but things didn’t work out. And, it was there in my mind while we were working on another film with Anil as a hero and Sri was the heroine. We sort of thought of many subjects but finally you know it just came around to the fact that Mr. India was stuck in my mind.”
When asked about the hurdles he faced while making the film, he said, “Javed sahab told me that Boney it was going to be a very expensive film. Sippy did not want to do this movie only because it would be an exorbitantly expensive film and involved a lot of special effects. Perhaps at that point of time, since they had worked with foreign technicians they thought that even this would require foreign technicians and major special effects would have to be done overseas.”
Who made Mr. India possible?
He also projected his gratefulness to the few who stayed behind to help him, extending courtesy to Javed Akhtar, Shekhar Kapoor, Satish Kaushik, Anil Kapoor and Sridevi.
How was Mr. India’s special effects possible without taking to the post-production table?
Boney also delved into how they worked as a close-knit unit to shoot everything on camera, and not take to the post-production editing floor to input special effects.
“I mean we worked as a very close-knit unit and somehow, you know, I had made up our mind that it was not going to have any post-production and everything would be shot on camera. So we had a complete R&D department who used to think of ways to put particular special effects scenes like the Hanuman scene, or the dining table being carried out scene, where Mr India is walking and the footprints are showing up on the floor, so all these were thought about ingeniously. “
“The cinematographer of the film was Baba Azmi but the special effects cameraman was Peter Pereira, he was quite used to shooting films which required special effects. There used to be a wire which was darkened and lighted in such a way that the wires were not seen so this was his USP. Then we had Veeru Devgan who was our action director. In this film, more than the action, he facilitated the special effects and the entire credit goes to Veeru Devgan, who had encouraged us to have all the sequences done elaborately. So it was the good people who, probably, came through in a way and made the film Mr India.”
What does it mean for Boney Kapoor to be the proprietor behind sci-fi cinema
When asked about how he feels about being the proprietor and the technical firebrand behind bringing about the trend of science fiction movies in India, he said that he had never thought of Mr. India would be a sci-fi film.
“I am glad that we started the trend of sci-fi films and at that point in time I had never thought that it would be one. I had seen some English films in fact because Blackbeard’s Ghost an invisible man right so those films had fascinated me as a child too here I was getting an opportunity to do a film on the similar lines. So, I did my best.”
R&D team facilitated special effects for Mr. India
He also delved into the methods through which the movie’s Research and Development team facilitated the special effects behind the movie.
“The producer’s job is to see that he keeps all the facilities for the crew, be it the art director Bijan Dasgupta, or action director, or the director himself, and the R&D team which had seven people who used to go about how things would turn out to be. For example, the Anil drinking coke scene which is one that had been researched upon, rehearsed and then shot.”
Giving the example of the Kate Nahi Kataate Hai chartbuster to explain the way with which they had facilitated practical effects to incorporate an invisible Anil Kapoor in the song’s filming. He said, “For the song, we had three sections. Originally, it was supposed to be a solo with a triplet of singers singing but the song was so appealing that Anil said even he wanted to be in the song. So again we had to put our minds together. We put a gazebo which had red windows and if you recall, Mr India can only be seen in red light so that is how Anil was seen in that song and it worked out well.”
How Kate Nahi Kataate Hai became such a revolutionary chartbuster
Boney explained how the song exceeded expectations and became so iconic, with it still being remembered fondly even now.
“He (Anil Kapoor) was happy. Song came out well. It became an iconic song and still is today. I mean that’s a benchmark of a song which is sensual without any skin show. I think Saroj, Sri, all were absolutely magnificent.”
How Boney Kapoor and Shekhar Kapoor made a chiffon sari look sensual
Boney also revealed how both him and the director Shekhar Kapoor made a standard chiffon sari look sensual, without making it revealing. He said that it all came down to the “romance and passion”.
“Shekhar took it as a challenge, he had several costumes made for that song. Somehow, you know I had seen Sri had done a song only in a plain chiffon sari. I told Shekhar in the film that it looks so sensual without showing any skin. He said, “Okay, cancel all the other costumes. Sri will wear a chiffon sari I will make sure that she is far more sensual without showing any skin and it will be just romance and passion,” he said.
Boney also revealed how following the song’s release, many filmmakers started copying similar situations from the song’s filming, as Anil Kapoor was only seen through a red glass through the song. He said, “Imagine Sri singing a song with all her love and passion to an invisible man who was only seen when we wanted to show him through a red glass, so it took 18-19 days to shoot that song. and thankfully it evolved well and later there were many copies of that kind of situation.”
EXCLUSIVE ONLY ON THE NEW INDIAN | Watch Boney Kapoor discuss his unglamorous, humble journey to become the biggest filmmaker in #Bollywood with our executive editor @rohanduaT02 in an exclusive interview at his #Andheri residence
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