Readers of a Filmfare would remember a column called Readers Don’t Digest, in which people would write in with gaffes they spotted while watching movies. Mostly continuity errors, like the heroine’s hair style changing during the course of one scene, or the make and number plate of a car changing in mid-scene. Made you wonder whether people were watching the film or looking for blunders. Now, of course, there are websites that serve this function.
Screenwriter and film buff Kiran Kotrial used to see films multiple times, and after the first time, look around the frame and catch goofs, some of them hilarious
Screenwriter and film buff Kiran Kotrial used to see films multiple times, and after the first time, look around the frame and catch goofs, some of them hilarious. Once, when he saw a particularly bad film, and almost fell off his chair laughing, he thought that this experience should be a communal one. He hired a hall, put in about 60 chairs and invited friends to watch the film with him; by the time it ended, word had gone around, the audience had doubled.
Over the next decade, Kotrial started having private shows of his collection of funny scenes and gaffes from films, the audience growing by word of mouth—friends telling friends about the show, and his fan following grew. Film people started chipping for the venue and snacks; some (like a very sporting Sachin Pilgaonkar) turned to make fun of their own ‘ham’ scenes.
Admirers of the show urged Kotrial to have a ticketed public show and that’s how Timepass Talkies reached a Bandra stage. Even though, it is a random collection of scenes, the show is screamingly funny, and has potential to grow into a really enjoyable comedy show. Kotrial keeps it simple and though he is making fun of Bollywood, it is not insulting or nasty.
Some scenes are obviously due to carelessness of the continuity people — like the scene from Department, in which Sanjay Dutt starts getting into a building with his hair in a crew cut, and with every floor he climbs, his hair grows a little and by the time he reaches the terrace, he has a full head of hair. But to catch some mistakes needs a really keen eye, like the one from Manzil, in which Amitabh Bachchan is singing on stage, with a man sitting behind him, nodding his head; the camera cuts to the audience, and there’s the same man in the audience, wearing a suit and trying to look appreciative. The camera cuts to the entrance of the hall to get a shot of people entering, and there’s the man, who Kotrial jovially called “producer ka rishtedar” amidst the audience on the other side of the aisle. It would take a very careful viewer to catch a face in the crowd. And the film was directed by Basu Chatterjee, who let it slip, or didn’t notice how the junior artistes were seated.
Kotrial has another very funny clip to do with junior artistes, from the film Holiday, in which, he says, a bunch of girls must have been instructed to look casual and do something with their hair, which results in a comical background, when dozens of girls are frantically stroking their hair!
Goofs slip past the undoubtedly vigilant eyes of the best directors —like the last scene in Yash Chopra’s masterpiece Deewar, in which Shashi Kapoor calls his mother on stage where he is receiving an award for bravery. Nirupa Roy was sitting in the audience with Neetu Singh, she walks up to the stage, turns around to look at the audience and there she is sitting in the same place. And, there’s the scene from Ramesh Sippy’s Saagar, in which Rishi Kapoor is singing with a band behind him, without anybody noticing that half of them are just standing holding their musical instruments not playing them; or the scene of a baraat, in which the drummer in the band is beating on the drum with great enthusiasm when the stick flies out of his hand, he looks non plussed for a second and carries on hitting the drum with his hand. There is a funny lapse in Sholay, when Amitabh Bachchan lies dying before a distraught Dharmendra; a man doing his business behind the bushes in the distance starts to get up, sees the scene on and quickly sits down. There’s a scene from Don, in which Amitabh Bachchan binds, gags and locks Arpana Chaudhary in the bathroom and goes out to sing the ‘Main hoon Don’ number. The actress is seen frantically trying to open the latch inside; and as Kotrial points out, if the bathroom is locked from the inside, did Amitabh get out? Or the one from Baby, where Anupam Kher watches a news clip in which the camera shooting the anchor is visible.
There are several such scenes that Kotrial has collected, along with bad dance moves, (see Dharmendra dance to ‘Yehi hai tamanna’ from Aap Ki Parchhaiyan, to have a giggling fit), or hammy acting, which Rajendra Kumar aces. And, there’s a truly priceless one of Shammi Kapoor dancing to ‘Baar baar dekho’ in China Town, with a bunch of chorus dancers — every time he is in the vicinity of a particular dancer, she lets out a cussword that can easily be lip-read.
Timepass Talkies ends with clips from a film called Shaitani Dracula, which has reached cult status as arguably the worst film of all time, but that’s another story. Kotrial has a hit on his hands, a show which, he says, is the only one of its kind in the world. That may well be so — it is a show by a Bollywood fan for Bollywood fans.
Deepa Gahlot is an award-winning film and theatre critic and an arts administrator. She tweets at @deepagahlot