Guest Column: Reviewing my mentor R Balki’s movie Shamitabh: Harsh Vardhan Singh
The phrase "born to do" is an exact fit for R Balki, says Harsh Vardhan Singh, Co-Founder of The Paper Films
I watched the film “Shamitabh”, written & directed by my mentor, R Balki. Felt deeply moved to realise how small snippets of emotions churn out some philosophies of life. The “Shamitabh” Script was one such.
While writing a review on a great work, I would like to mention my small Guru-Shishya story with Balki, avoiding the word ‘Sir’ as he is yet to be honoured with Knighthood (courtesy Shamitabh screenplay effect).
In 2010, Balki & Lowe Lintas Advertising Agency literally adopted me by recruiting me into their aegis. I was an unsettled and disturbed mind with only the passion for filmmaking. My credentials of Cannes & other Short Film Screenings and a special CNN News story got my talent recognised. Landed up like a small town poor chap with RS 2k in pocket at Balki’s Nariman Point cabin for Interview.
My answer to Balki’s first question “Tell me about Yourself” was absolutely plain and simple, which was:
“I am NIT Graduate, was placed in an IT Company, dropped out of IIM and ran away from home to attend this meeting right now”.
Just the hope of being able to have an opportunity to try, was what drove Dhanush to Mumbai film industry. Quite similar was my case. I was willing to die trying at that point of time.
Truth and Honesty are probably the great tools which will touch the emotional chords.
It so happened that end of 2010, Lowe Lintas was setting up their in-house Film Production Unit ‘Lintas Productions’. I was one of the AD in their first TVC production project with Lead Actor Bachchanji, Director Balki, Producer Anil Naidu, Cinematography PC Sreeram, with the same Shamitabh, Paa, Cheeni Kum film crew. It was an honour working with the legends and a tough learning experience in terms of management & creativity. Now, ‘Shamitabh’ is the first feature film production of ‘Lintas Productions’. Learnt two major things here. One, all Great masterpieces take time to nurture and I learnt to have a lot of patience & faith. Two, is the unseen amount of labour put in to crafting Shamitabh (apart from earth shaking actor performances) Sound mixing & Editing were the film’s keystone (Jiten Solanki & Team).
Days would be spent, when I would disturb Balki with silly doubts about filmmaking and script writing. I took a great amount of advantage of Balki’s approachability, but every single time he would explain logically how to go about a certain concept. He would never limit me to advertising field, but also encourage me to explore more in the world. Balki’s motivational examples are all centred around hard work.
Values & respect is another salient feature of Shamitabh. How we perceive our helpers, workers, so called small people, when we are flying high on cloud no. nine. Do we respect them still ? The Film gives respect and tribute to small but significant people’s efforts like Valets, End Credits, Assistant Directors, Bus Conductors, Strugglers and many more. Even the film End Credits start with thanking Valet’s of Amitabh ji, Dhanush and Akshara.
The phrase “Born to do” is exact fit for Balki. Heading Lowe Lintas for such a long time and having gained so much confidence from top guns in the film industry, It was only Balki who could compile a masterpiece with Amitabh’s raw unleashed performance, Dhanush’s realistic screen presence, Akshara’s innocence and creative humorous advertising at its best. No one else in this lifetime could put up a show like this, for Balki is exceptionally Multi-tasking and Calm.
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