For the last couple of weeks, it’s been all excel sheets, phone calls and meetings. No, there hasn’t been a leopard in sight. On a commercial film, you would have a casting director, production manager, travel agent, accountant, and several, several assistants and personal managers. But ‘Kaphal‘ is a tiny, tiny film in comparison, and most jobs need to be done by Teja and me, as they come up. One of the jobs that really drains me of energy is rejecting actors, and I wish I had other people doing the dirty job.

On a rare evening off, we wander off to see ‘Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya’. We are so tired, we are sure that any of the more ‘illuminating’ fare (‘The Artist’, ‘Moneyball’, ‘An Evening with Marilyn’) will put us to sleep. At a party recently, Skp said, “When you sit in a car with a good driver, you can go to sleep, knowing you are in good hands. I think a few minutes into a good film, you are reassured that the film is safe, in good hands, and you can go to sleep. A bad film keeps you on the edge of your seat.” A young teacher and I laughed. She said, “I don’t think so. You go to sleep in a theatre because it is dark.” “And cool,” I said, “and your mind says it is time to go to sleep.”

Genelia does ‘cuteness’ with grimaces. They work at times, and then, you wish she’d look for a different expression, now and then. I liked Ritesh in ‘Bluffmaster’.  But here his hands and legs seem out of control. “You are no Salman Khan”, his father tells him in TNLHG. Yet a lot of him in the film comes via Salman and more than that, via Shahrukh. The stretching out of the hands is totally passe, particularly after Shahrukh himself makes fun of the gesture.

Teja watches ‘Daata’ in fast-forward, but I cannot sit down to it. I worry though about Prem Chopra being dragged behind a horse. Later, in ‘Blackmail‘, we watch Raakhee and Shatrughan Sinha rolling and sliding down grass and pebbles, and I squirm with pain.

‘Pal pal dil ke paas’ is of course, a favorite, though Teja laughs and says it is because it is so easy to hum. But it’s the background song ‘Mile, mile do badan’ that squirms its way into my brain. Raakhee and Dharmendra hide under a pile of logs in the forest while Shotgun and his men look for them. After all the misunderstandings between them, from their wedding night until now, and the consequent celibacy, they now lie next to each other, heads opposite each other. They start with caressing each other’s legs. Dharmendra kisses her bare foot, which seems quite ‘modern’ to me, as opposed to the idea of a woman’s place being at a man’s feet. Then Raakhee kisses his sock and muddy shoe. (No, no, I don’t envy an actor’s lot.) Then, they slide down against each other, until their faces are close to each other. Then, somehow he sits up and lies down beside her. The space under the logs miraculously changes dimensions to accommodate each move. But who cares, the song is sizzling hot. And as Teja points out, unlike any other climax song in a villian’s den.

Later, after the mandatory fist fight, and moral resolution, Dharmendra and Raakhee walk off into the sunrise. (Shemaroo however having tele-cine-ed all ‘day for night’ scenes as day, we move from day to evening to morning to night, in the most confusing way.) Teja says, “But what about Ganga Ma? She hasn’t been punished at all.” Ganga Ma, introduced as a faithful servant of the household, someone who has looked after Dharmendra since he was a child, had gone on in the very next shot to betray him, by passing on information to Shotgun and his associates. She is not caught, and we can imagine that she continues working in the household, a potential hazard for future times.

Sated at the end of the evening, I conclude that making films is hard work, it is much more fun watching films and talking about them. You can get in some popcorn and chocolates and cuddling up too with the latter.