Behind the scenes in Malegaon
For 30-year-old filmmaker Faiza Khan, the Malegaon film industry seemed a fascinating contrast to commercially driven Bollywood films. The small town that is often in the news for communal tension is also the hotbed for a unique brand of cinema that is quirky, low-budget, socially aware and one that spoofs mainstream movies.
She was inspired enough to head to Malegaon and document the local crew as they went about shooting Malegaon ka Superman, their adaptation of the superhero tale. Her 2008 documentary, titled Supermen of Malegaon, trailed Sheik Nasir, the director of many of the Malegaon films (including Malegaon Ke Sholay and Malegaon Ki Shaan), the lead actor Shafique Shaikh (who passed away in September 2011) and the crew as they shot the film.
The crew for the documentary included cameramen, sound engineers and editors from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). “We spent nearly four months in Malegaon. I had read about the indigenous movie industry and the passion that sustains it,” she says. While shooting the capers of the film crew, Khan realised that there was never a dull day on the sets. “It was very unpredictable. Often, we had one-line scripts or no scripts at all, and landed up on set without knowing what we would be shooting.
We also made up scenes along the way; we would spend days sitting around waiting for something to happen while on other days, we would be shooting, frantically. It caused me a lot of panic attacks. At times, it was bizarre because we were shooting a film on the shooting of another film,” she recounts. The Hindu-Muslim divide in Malegaon also meant that while the documentary crew were residing in the Hindu section, they had to move to the Muslim section of the city to shoot the film.
“Being a woman, it was a challenge working in a male-dominated environment but at the same time, they also took care of me, so I can’t complain,” she observes. Khan adds that she did not expect the documentary to win accolades. “There were days when roads were blocked as shooting was happening in the middle of the road. Other times, people were upset that they were edited from the final documentary.
They function on passion and for the sheer love of filmmaking. On the plus side, after the documentary a lot of the Malegaon crew got offers for acting in Marathi films and television projects,” she concludes. The documentary is being screened courtesy Vikalp@Prithvi and there will be a question and answer session with the crew after the screening. The film will release in PVR cinemas across seven cities on June 29.
Poet and educationist Nandita Desai is exhibiting a series of colourful oil paintings on nature, titled Living Earth. Desai has a PhD in History and has taught at St Xavier’s College as well as US-based universities. She has written poetry and has designed homes. This Cordon Bleu chef is currently working on a cookery book. Speaking about her love for art, Desai recalls, “Even as a child, I loved to paint. If I was not good at academics, I could have persuaded my father (he was an IAS officer) to support my artistic studies. Painting is like breathing to me. It fills me with joy, hope and a zest for all things beautiful.”
Desai makes oil on canvas paintings for the sheer freedom it gives her. “You can wipe them off, scrape them off, dissolve them, change the subject of your painting, and still not damage or affect the painting,” she says. Lately, collages have caught her fancy. Soon, she will be heading to the UK to study collage making.
She reveals that her favourite painting is Glowing Village, which describes the aura of a village. “It is part and parcel of nature and is one with it. It glows with mystery, hope and beauty which is my definition of life.” The proceeds from the exhibition will go to a charity for Alzheimer’s patients. “My mom has Alzheimer’s,” she trails off.