The urge to kick start this project has been lurking for the longest time. In June 2019, a dear friend was shooting a portion of her film in different parts of Himachal Pradesh. When I had heard of this last year, I had made a mental note at the back of my mind to tag along with them when they do shoot in Himachal to finally start work on this project. She was excited with the proposition and I was over the moon. This was a setting put on a platter. Shoot was to happen in various locations that were otherwise restricted to general public, a small-ish crew, a terrain that would be demanding in terms of production especially given a tight budget comparatively. I spent four days out of the five days they shot at Himachal Pradesh, tagging along and being as invisible as possible documenting them in their element. We braved the uncertain weather, logistics going haywire and DIY of all kinds.
But first, chai! The chill in the air and hike early in the morning calls for some chai to finally wake up for shooting to start. Here, Akash is preparing chai for the crew. He is also the caretaker of the horse on set.
Gearing up for the first shot of the day. It amazes me how much technology is evolving literally by the day.
The actor prepares. Mrunmayee Deshpande, the director, writer and also the lead actress of the film takes a final look at the mirror before the first shot of the day and before she calls the shots for the day.
The actor prepares. Rahul Pethe, one of the lead actors of the film, takes position while the crew works in tandem seamlessly to ensure the take is worthy.
The scene is set. The cinematographer, Abhijit Abde and his team is making the most of the few spare minutes the sun showed up on what was otherwise days of bad weather thanks to a lurking depression somewhere.
Outdoor schedules often bring about four legged visitors. They are curious about the newness in their daily environment and eventually over days just become a part of the crew.
The actor prepares. Mrunmayee Deshpande soaks in some sun and much needed calm before dialogue delivery for an emotionally charged scene.
Bad weather sprung on them despite months of planning. There seemed no respite out of it either. So, good old Indian ‘jugaad’ comes to the rescue. Jugaad in the narrative, to the scenes, to the shoot. They had to make most of their tight schedule in Himachal.
Rain protection gears of all kinds being assembled to ready the shot.
The light has been checked and the gear has been set. Now the ball in on the actor’s court.
The cinematographer calls the shot. Rain is a new introduction to the narrative and light playing constant hide and seek.
Constant rain, slippery roads, chilly winds. Last minute preparation to take all this into account and making sure no one is under the weather is quite the task. Especially, in the middle of nowhere.
The landscape kept changing and how.
The temperament of every member of your crew is key to keep the show going.
There was rain and some more rain.
Forced pack up for the day. The skies have opened up.
A new location. The mules carried all the gear up the hill through their path designated to carry cargo while the crew hiked up a much longer route.
The mules have been entrusted for the transport of all equipment in the terrain. No vehicles on the route.
Once the equipment has reached it’s destination, the mule owners take some rest soaking in the view around and some sun while it lasts.
Where the mules cannot go, the humans go. Where the humans cannot go, the mules go.
Studesnts from near-by take up part time jobs as extras on film sets. They are waiting for their turn.
The actor prepares. Karan Kishore Parab soaks in some much needed sun and a moment to himself before getting into character. Or may be all he was thinking about was when piping hot maggi and some chai would be ready.
The actor prepares. There are no vanity vans in the middle of nowhere. If you seek sanity, figure ingenious ways to cut yourself from the hullabaloo for a while.
Cinematographer Abhijit Abde wanted to try a different point of view. When in Rome, they say.
Staying fit is something photographers/cinematographers are not often advised. It is moments like this that remind you the need to be fit so no matter what might arise, one is able to make the most of the situation
Dipu was curious to see what it looked like through the camera. He was supervising the transport of all the equipment on mules he owns and some his friends own.
The side actor make their way to the set. Some grudgingly because of the constant rain and some viewing this as an experience they might never have.
The unsung heroes
And, it’s a wrap!