THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS

Temple at Dadasaheb Phalke Chitra Nagari, aka Film City, Goregaon

Temple at Dadasaheb Phalke Chitra Nagari, aka Film City, Goregaon

Rishi Majumder hunts down the temple where actors have often expressed their devotion
 
Photographer: Rana Chakraborty

         

Aaj khush to bahut hoge tum… jo aaj tak tumhare mandir ki siidiyan nahin chada… who aaj tumhaare saamne haath failaye khada hai.” Think of the Angry Young Man venting his anger at the statue of Lord Shiva. The ‘mandir’ that was a symbolic reference point throughout Deewaar, giving it (and many other films) it’s most timeless scenes, stands out in faded red atop a hill in Film City, Goregaon. “Move to the right. I want the whole family in the frame, dammit,” hollers TV director Manish Singhania into his megaphone.
   Cut to the present. Now think of the shoot for TV soap K Street Pali Hill with teeming actors in suits and sarees, flowers draped decoratively around the premises and a saffron flag planted on the temple for effect. This temple structure at the Dadasaheb Phalke Chitra Nagari (aka film city, Goregaon) since the early seventies fits into any time period and look. It’s come in use in films of diverse genre. And now, with the television boom, it even switches the medium it features in. But the coup d” etat has to be this: this ‘temple’ switches its gods!
   “This temple has been a part of every movie I’ve done, and I think most other Hindi films,” mulls cinematographer Bashir Ali. “Even if it’s not in a main sequence it’ll be part of the background if we’re shooting on the road in front of it… or the ‘hilly skyline’ if we’re shooting elsewhere in Film City.” But what makes this the most used temple location in Bollywood? “It’s surrounded by green hills – that provides a good backdrop,” Ali continues. Art director Sanjay Dubey cites other reasons: “We can have it the way we want it – its shape can be fitted into any period.” So they use an “ageing process” with false scratches and cobwebs to make it look like a ruin, or paint it and put up artificial pillars even to make it look spanking new.
   “It’s infinitely better than building a set – here 50 per cent of our work’s done,” Dubey adds, remembering the time he filmed the Kaho Na Pyaar Hai climax here when he was an assistant. “There we had a market, and a crowd – but in another film I did on Gautam Buddha, it changed colours to a desolate but serene setting.” The temple’s even been used for intense action sequences: “We filmed a shoot-out in Fiza here,” informs fight-director Sham Kaushal. “It’s not as if there aren’t other temple locations – but this is more spacious by far, and also we can film right from the road-side.” Hence giving a fight sequence room for chases, falls, jumps… even car crashes (think Deewar again).
   “I packed up at 6 in the morning and got back here at 9,” says the erstwhile hollering TV director Manish Singhania – now breaking in between shots. “Maybe this spot energises me… it’s a nostalgic experience working in places you grew up watching Mr Bachchan in.” “Umm, you bet. It’s unreal,” throws in Avinash Behl, one of the actors being hollered at. This is the actor’s first big TV role after a small stint in Kyunki Saans Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi: “But I still can’t get used to the fact that I’m standing where Mr Bachchan did in that scene in Deewaar, man!”

This article appeared originally in Mumbai Mirror, Times Of India: http://alturl.com/9guk

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