on acquiring a shooting permit for cst

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A week.

The cobwebs on the wall are not dusted away, but new ones grow on me.

Electricity lines have changed their course, leaving their tracks behind, holes left by ripped out nails.

The traces of a discarded clock mark the new one.

The plywood partitions look greasy.

There are calendars on the left, on the right, in the front. But time is not important here. Perhaps the holidays marked in red are.

The tube lights bleach out all hope.

I sit helplessly for hours. I watch the fans high, high above, and try to hold on to the notion of movement.

Sahib or madam are never in. Or have just gone out. Always, I feel guilt. Should I have come even earlier than I did, should I have stayed those 5 extra minutes? Maybe I would have seen sahib or madam then.

I contemplate dishonesty.

I realize that these are the seats of power. Their function is to clog your blood line. To stop the flow of industry, enterprise, ambition.

I watch as every single person around me, the peons, the clerks, the officers, start at the mention of any work. The first instinctive involuntary reaction to any mention of any new task is a negative. This can’t be my job, I am too busy already, if you force me to do this, then I will do it in my own time, certainly not now, not when you need, not when you ask.

I had forgotten this. I had disregarded it. I had thought that surely someone, somewhere cares. Not about me. But just about their job. Only that would be enough.

But no, they don’t. Not for the files on their table. Or the cobwebs on their walls.

On day 3, a peon reluctantly hands me a glass of water. The empty glass is still lying there when I go back in the afternoon.

The 200 grams file seems heavier than a mountain – the effort it takes to push it from table to table, from down the ranks to up to down again to up.

Perhaps one day it may come to me, the task completed.

I finally realize what atrophy means.


    • Aquatic Static, yes, really helpless and frustrating, dealing with any form of bureaucracy. It gives me the jitters, and I hate it when I’m forced into situations like these. But who doesn’t?

    • Dipali, yes, they did get moving. They gave me the permission at 7 pm, the evening before the shoot. It was so stressful, not knowing. And the lack of communication, is unbelievable. This, from the PR department, and this, after paying an incredible amount of 160,000 for one day of shoot.

  1. Eloquently described. The first several lines are actually more poem than prose.

    Btw, I wonder if everyone who wants to shoot in CST gets the same treatment from the babus? I cannot imagine that the makers of Slumdog Millionaire too waited for days.

    • Lekhni,

      I can’t say for sure, whether the feature film get the same treatment. I think the production people there are quite used to paying bribes, but I wouldn’t like to claim it as a fact.

      They can also afford to pay the bank guarantees required, which amount to 500,000 per day, and which are returned to you after maybe a year.

      Whereas with a documentary, each time you have to negotiate a bank guarantee waiver, which they are able to give, but won’t give khulle dil se. Will make you ragdo your nose each time.😦

  2. This makes a powerful case for trying out the Ismail Merchant method of acquiring a permit. For The Householder, he apparently shot in the Qutab Minar complex without permit – just told the cast and crew that the permit is on the way and they need to start shooting!

    • Those were the days, Bollyviewer. We could get away with that, upto maybe 3-4 years ago, specially for documentaries. But now, there’s tons of security everywhere.

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