'Every clapboard has a story to tell'

Unique Hobbies

'Every clapboard has a story to tell'

There is one thing constant during the making of a movie — a clapboard. It is a witness to every scene of the film and stays with the unit till the end of the project. More than anything, the clapboard has a character of its own, believes Kannada lyricist, director and actor Yogaraj Bhat who has a good collection of clapboards.

He began collecting clapboards after his directorial debut with ‘Mungaaru Male’. Yogaraj confesses that the clapboards hold a special significance in his life because he worked as a clap boy in 1993-94 for Girish Kasaravalli and in 1994-95 for V Ravichandran. “As a clap boy, I used to get scolded a lot. A clap boy is supposed to clap just before a scene and waste no time in running out of the frame. But however quick the clap boy is, there are times when he remains in the frame and that can be really exasperating for any director,” recollects Yogaraj Bhat, nostalgically.

He goes on to explain why the clapboard is such an indispensable part of a film. “The clapboard has the title of the film, the name of the director and producer. It is there from the beginning till the end,” he states.

Before he knew it, Yogaraj became an assistant director and director but operating the clapboard is still special to him. “Most clapboards are packed off and stacked away after the shooting of a film. But somehow, I didn’t want my clapboards to meet a similar fate.

So I consciously started preserving them and now, I have a collection of clapboards right from my first film,” he says. He adds, “Every clapboard has a story to tell and brings back a flood of memories every time I look at it,” he states.

He further says that since he takes a lot of time to work on each of his projects, the clapboard of a particular film brings back “some special moments”. “The events that happened during the shooting come back to my mind when I see the clapboard of a particular film,” he adds.

Yogaraj doesn’t really have any plans as far as the collection is concerned. “I don’t ask people to lend their clapboards to simply add to my collection. I preserve only those that I have worked with. When I started pursuing the hobby, I didn’t have any specific number in mind. It happened by chance,” he shares.

He also doesn’t believe in reusing the clapboards. “It doesn’t look nice to reuse a clapboard. A lot of people may find it funny when I say that I find reusing clapboards disrespectful,” he reasons.

The clapboards are almost always handled by boys here in India but film units in the West have women employed as clap girls. “That’s because girls have more common sense, better retention power and aren’t as easily distracted as the boys. They are keen observers and remember every scene much better than the boys.

They even recollect the smallest of details such as what costumes the actors were wearing during the shooting of a particular scene, the colour of the lipstick the actress was wearing, her footwear etc. These are details that men usually miss out on,” he adds.

Today, do clap boys know the significance of the clapboard or even value it? Yogaraj has nothing positive to say. “I don’t think today’s clap boys even know what a clapboard is. For them, it’s all about clapping and running away,” he sums up.

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