It wouldn’t be uncharitable to state that Ram Gopal Varma has had to deal with more disappointments than successes in recent times. Yesterday was another washout for the maverick filmmaker and his crew as railways refused to award them approval for shooting parts of a motion picture based on the 26/11 attacks at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST).
Sources say the team had mailed dates and timings of the shoot to the railways and it was believed that authorities had granted them a go-ahead orally. But when RGV sent a letter asking for permission in writing, railways rejected his request.
“Despite our refusal, RGV sent us a letter mentioning the itinerary for the shoot. The correspondence also said that the crew would adhere to our conditions.
We forwarded the communication to Railway Protection Force (RPF) but a consent couldn’t be secured,” said a Central Railway (CR) representative, adding, “We have already told RGV that we don’t want railways to be shown in a poor light and the crew has agreed on that point. Still, since there will be passengers present at the station, we told Varma to send his proposal directly to the railway board and its decision will be final.” According to sources RGV had to deposit Rs 6 lakh with the railways for the shoot.
However, sources say RGV wants to recreate the mayhem at CST station using firing sequences and bloodstains. “We have asked the team to film these scenes at the studios. Railway board has not responded on this issue. It will permit a shoot when fully convinced that the image of railways will not be tarnished in any way,” added the official.
The letter from Varma reads, “We have submitted the script for the film tentatively titled RGV Alumbra Production No 2, for obtaining permission to shoot at CST station from October 10 to October 14.” Along with dates, the correspondence has also furnished locations for the shoots — at the taxi stand near the entrance, railway police chowki, waiting area, food counters, toilets, near DG gate, area close to SBI ATM, local station hall section, platforms no 1 to 10, etc.
It’s worth noting that RGV also wanted to cinematise some incidents at the Taj hotel, but didn’t manage to secure the necessary consent. These scenes were then filmed on artificial sets.
When MiD DAY contacted CR general manager Subodh Jain, he said, “We won’t permit him to recreate 26/11 at railways’ premises as this is a very sensitive issue. A proposal has been sent to the railway board and its decision will be final.”
On the other hand, Deepak Bhanushali, location and ground manager for the film, said, “We have got the permission, but because of absence of certain crewmembers, we had to postpone the dates for shooting.”
Parag Sanghvi, producer of the film, said, “It’s not that we have been denied authorisation to shoot at CST. The process of getting the approvals is still on.” Varma did not respond to our calls and SMSes.
During the shoot of ‘The Burning Train’ in Delhi, the team had secured permission to film inside train coaches. But the crew allegedly burned down the train and railways had to suffer losses of Rs 25 lakh. The authorities had procured a deposit of only Rs 5,000 from the team and nothing in the agreement authorised them to recover the rest of the money.