On the railway track

Last Updated 31 January 2018, 08:27 IST

Filmmaking for me has been a life-changing experience. This journey started off with 'Station' in 2012. Though the film hit the screens only in 2014, there was so much that went into making it a reality.  

The entire film triggered a lot of conversation as the cast was from Bengaluru.

We were looking for a deserted station for the shoot and there was none in the city which had a cinematic appeal. A station, like the one in Naseeruddin Shah-starrer 'Ijaazat', was what we were looking for.  We travelled 100 km North, South, East and West of Bengaluru.  Finally, just like a line in the script, we found a station which is 40 km away from the city.

The norms of the Railways can be exhausting and we had  to seek permission for the shoot.

Luckily for us, we didn't  have any shots with passengers or elaborate train scenes. There was a train which would come every Thursday. The engine would get detached and it will chug away. It would come back on Monday and chug away with the bogies. So we had a train we could shoot with for a few days. We planned our schedule according to this.

The entire film was shot in 17 nights which spanned across two years. Yes, you read that right! This required my actors to sport unkempt beards for a long time.  I still remember one of them giving me a dirty look for his vagabond-like appearance.

The station master Mr Abdul was a sweetheart. We had a wonderful chemistry and he was very cooperative. Amidst our shoot, there was another peer of his who came from another station  for two days.

He tried to make things  difficult for us and obviously wanted to make a few quick bucks. With all the challenges, we were facing regularly, I couldn't take it anymore. We went and  lay  down on the tracks threatening to not get up until I was allowed to resume shoot.

He broke into a smile and finally everything went back to normal.  I think every artiste in his or her life goes through such moments, where  they  go out of their way to get something done.  

Once, we were at the station with the  entire cast setting up the scene when something just didn't seem right.  My  cinematographer and I were standing at the station and 45 minutes later, we realised that the train wasn't there. This was a moment of realisation and exasperation for us.  

Across two years, we had four shooting schedules which taught us  different things.  The struggles of getting free locations to shoot at, scenes on roads at night, the enthusiastic and cooperative autodrivers of Kalasipalya -- all evoke amusing memories.

You just cannot foresee everything you need, especially when you are working in an independent film. In fact, I used to tell everyone that it is an 'in dependent' film. The three seconds of special thanks to everyone still doesn't pay it all off.    

There are just too many people I should thank. People around who would help us with refreshments; Abdul, who would help us with whatever he could and so on. We initially had trouble from the cops too, but later on we had extra-sweet moments. During one schedule, a traffic cop sat with me in front of the monitor for two hours. When I said okay to a shot, he immediately said 'one more  'togoli'' and how he felt the scene need to be perfected. I couldn't stop smiling.    

I can never forget the dinner at Abdul's house. He has three daughters. I don't remember how many of them were married. I do remember being teased by everyone that I had come to the station single and that 'I am all set to race against time' and 'Track forward, my friend'.  

One makes a mistake with every film. No director is perfect and no story is immortal. Now, whenever I think about 'Station', emotional, dramatic and fun are some of the words that come to my  mind. I always feel that it is because of all the energy we were surrounded with that 'Station' made it to the theatres.  

(Published 30 January 2018, 13:36 IST)

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