The greats behind the glamour

From Monday to Thursday, every week, 77 year-old musician, Kersi Lord, goes to the theatres to watch the 12.30 show. After a glorious career spanning over half a century, the musician, who watched Spiderman in 3D this week, says he finally gets to do what he wants, every day. Lord worked as a musician for SD Burman and later with his son and friend RD Burman. But, unlike the music directors, Lord was never a figure of adulation — few filmgoers know of his work, or the fact that he arranged the much-appreciated music for the 1978 film, Shalimar. 

Kersi Lord (right), a musician from the ’70s, worked with SD and RD Burman on many movies and arranged music for the 1978 film, Shalimar. Technicians like him, who were never in the limelight, will now be featured in the film magazine, It’s Only Cinema, which will be launched next week

On July 15, when art director Narendra Rahurikar and senior editor Udaya Tara Nayar release the film magazine, It’s Only Cinema, Lord, perhaps, will get his due. The magazine promises to have none of the regular star gossip and glamour overload. Instead, it will feature the people behind the scenes and their contribution to the larger than life films we’ve watched over decades — those like Lord.

Pancham’s friend
After four unanswered calls, Lord calls back, exuding the energy and excitement of a 17 year-old. He slows down after a gentle request to do so. “On an average, we worked for 12 to 15 hours a day. We would record four to five songs a day but it never felt like work,” recalls Lord, who first met RD Burman when he returned to Mumbai from his school in Panchgini. “Pancham was fantastic guy. With time, I became his closest friend after Ashaji, of course,” says Lord, with a smile in his voice. Lord worked on close deadlines for Shalimar. “As an arranger, I was in charge of arranging a piece of music for a singer. I had to make sure every aspect of a music piece was in harmony, from the instruments to the tempo,” he says. Lord admits how he, as a musician, was never in the limelight in those days. “It will be good for the present generation to be covered in a magazine. It gives their work a face. There was a magazine called Dastak, which did something similar, but it never really took off. So, let’s see,” says Lord.

Choreographer Chinni Prakash has worked on films such as Mohra and Jodhaa Akbar

Promoting technology, too
Rahurikar, who is currently working on the sets of Bol Bachchan and was also art director for films such as Golmaal, says the idea struck him last year when he was working on the film, Blue. “I went abroad to work with artistes who specialised in underwater cinematography. When I returned, an artiste approached me and said he did the same work and had the exact same technology here, too.

Anil Kumar (right) was an assistant director for TV serials such a Tara and Kusum

That’s when it struck me — because our film industry reveres only actors and directors, the most important people get left out. Not only do they never get their due in terms of recognition, but the fraternity also loses out on some great talent within the country because no promotional activity has ever been arranged for technicians,” says Rahurikar.

It’s Only Cinema, says Rahurikar, will also write about promising talent in the 400-odd film institutes around the country, who teach all aspects of filmmaking to aspirants. Senior film journalist, Nayar, is the magazine’s editor. “I’ve chased enough stars in my five decade-long career. It’s time to write about the real stars of the industry,” she says.

Loveleen Bains has designed costumes for films such as Kamasutra and Rang De Basanti

In 1995, when Nayar started the Screen Film Awards at the film magazine, she noticed how all the technicians were given awards at the start of the event and “were dealt with a bit too quickly”. When she suggested that technicians, too, be given Lifetime Achievement awards, people scoffed her. “I suggested, for instance, that we give the award to Mangesh Desai, the re-recording expert at Rajkamal Studio — he was so talented that Satyajit Ray came all the way from Calcutta to work with him. Then, there was Minoo Patrak, the sound recordist who excelled at the art. But awards, instead, went to Mala Sinha and Suraiya then.”

Until Resul Pookutty won the Oscar for sound mixing in the film Slumdog Millionaire, the Indian audience didn’t take anything except acting seriously, feels Nayar. “Sound mixing is such a fine art,” she adds. She remembers how, during the making of the film 1947 — A Love Story, Nayar met veteran sound recordist Narendra Singh, who closely worked with Satyajit Ray. He told Nayar about a scene in the film where Anil Kapoor enters a church where he is about to meet Manisha Koirala. “Singh suggested that a boy clean tables in the church. So, while Kapoor waits for Koirala, the voice in the background — due to the cleaning — rings, ‘thak, thak,thak’ Gradually, the crescendo builds up as she enters. The effect is beautiful. Is there an award for that?”

Woman behind the costume
Costume Designer Loveleen Bains agrees that a lot of nerve-wracking work dos not get recognised. It was midnight in Khajuraho in 1994, and Bains, who was working on the film Kamasutra was informed that the garment she had designed didn’t work. “Meera Nair, the director, just shrugged her shoulders and said that she didn’t like it,” says Bains whose career spans 25 years. “I stayed up all night with 20 tailors and created two garments before the 5 am shoot,” Bains smiles at the memory.

Her work begins from the day she signs film till the final pack up. “I study the script and research the era the film is set in, the characters and the mood the director wants to highlight,” says Bains, who has worked on films and television serials, including The Rising — Ballad of Mangal Pandey, Rang De Basanti and Mausam. She also won the national award for Muhafiz in 1994. “Everyone thinks a costume designer is a fashion designer. This is not true.

I am responsible for all the characters in the film. I have to understand the director’s vision to create the costumes,” says Bains, adding that she is happy that a magazine will finally take its readers behind the sets and show them the face of the numerous hands that work to bring out the film. “We are the actors backstage. It’s nice to get some recognition,” she laughs.  

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