Midnight Shoot

A large LED screen and blaring music greeted me when entered Filmistan Studios at 1pm on October 12 2011. I was here to cinematograph the end credit song for the movie Ra One. This is my second assignment to shoot end credit song, the earlier being for Chandni Chowk To China.

Just the day before the shoot Anubhav called me and asked me if I was free next day to shoot for him. On hearing yes, he said ‘Good, my production will call you’ and hung up. An hour later I get a call from Red Chillies: “Hello sir can you please give me light requirements for tomorrow, we are shooting on Alexa.” I told him it is difficult to give light requirements without knowing what we are shooting. “Oh. Ok.” Click. One hour later I get a call from Firoz, the choreographer: “Sir I need to tell you about the shoot tomorrow.” He then explained to me that there will be few dancers and Sharoukh dancing on a stage with shots of film projected on a LED screen.

I then called the production and told them to get Ravi Disco to put up lights on grids so that I could have a clear platform without lights in the way or in the frame to move the job around as I liked. The song was pulsating and I needed to light it and move the camera to match it’s pace. I had recently shot a very similar sequence where we had a dancer against a LED screen and had learnt the hard way that if the resolution of the LED screen and the projected file is not in sync, the image become Anubhav, Firoz and I quickly made a plan: We would rehearse with the dancers till about 5pm. Get everything done and then wait for the super star to arrive by 8pm and quickly shoot with him for 2 hours and wrap the shoot by 10pm.

The frenzy to finish everything: rehearsals, costume/makeup tests, lighting, camera movements, intercuts of dancers by 7pm started right after lunch. And then we setup for the star to arrive by 7:30. On seeing me stressing on ensuring everything is ok to start filming the minute Shahroukh arrives, Anubhav came to me and said “Shahrukh is in an award in Delhi and will be back only by ten. Then he would go home and come. And when he will reach the set he will not rush the shoot. “He is the only true super star in India and works as his own pace.”

I new then it this midnight song will last all night.

Shahrukh came in at around 11pm. Politely shook my hand and thanked me for being there at such short notice and then went to his van for make up and costume. He came back to the set by midnight and started work. He was tired but it did not show. Abubhav did mention that this was the first time in the entire shoot Shahrukh looked tired. At one point I asked him if we were doing ok as the song was being filmed without any prep. He looked me in the eye and said: “Shahrukh is dancing, the world will watch.” That was enough to make me smile at 4am.

We shot the Tech notes on still photography:

All pictures were shot using Fuji X100. F2. ISO3200. 1/125 shutter.


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