Hash, Mash and Cash!
by Nuggehalli Pankaja
Endowed with the gift of the gab, and an uncanny knack of striking at the right chord, film-producers really make heyday at the cost of us-poor writer’s brain; Want to know a few of my experiences?
The film ‘Sepoy Ramu’ based on my novel ‘Barale innu Yamune?’ being my first entry to the film-world, I listened to the producer’s talk of crores as I have never listened before, but at the end of the session none the wiser as to how much I would be getting –‘crores or paisa?’
“It is an unusual story Madam ! I just can’t believe that a person sitting so cozily amidst four walls can scribble off such a master piece!” He gushed, then added, pausing at the doorway, “I will hash it,mash it, and cash it.”
He literally did all that, beginning from the well-appreciated poetic title of my novel, to the mundane title- ‘Sepoy Ramu,’ making me feel really like Rip Van Winkle when I saw the picture!
You can understand my state of mind!
But I have this to my credit that I am the one to introduce the dreaded dacoits to our placid Bangalore—that too of Chambal valley !
Never can I forget another colorful producer! One day he and his crew, comprising Director, Cameraman, Script writer, Aye, even the Hero and Villain, landed at our place sending us scurrying for chairs from our neighbors.
Prostrating before me, he addressed me as Saraswati and Gayatri, and had me reeling stories after stories! And before I knew where I was, had packed up all my books and trooped out with the troupe trotting behind him, after depositing a sincere promise of bringing contracts for all the stories the very next day itself! I am yet to hear from him!
Entry of Bhagavan (Known under the banner as ‘ Dore and Bhagavan’) was something dramatic! A tap on the veranda-window, I appeared disheveled, ladle in hand.
“Yaaru nivu?” (Who are you?) - I queried with impatience.
“Naanu Bhagavan”(I’m Bhagavan,”) — He replied banteringly.
“Bhagavan? Descended from Gagana(sky)?” I questioned him in the same vein, opening the door. Imagine my surprise when the joke proved prophetic, for my novel "Gagana" was launched by them as the popular movie with Anantnag and Khushboo!
During the shooting, I had an unexpected honor of having a full length Namaskaram from a ladle-wielding big-tummied bhatta on the first day of the shooting itself !
“Amma, I acted the important role of the policeman in your ‘SEPOY RAMU.” He said, “ I have acted so well that I have been promoted as ‘Head Cook’ in this film. Please bless me to become the Hero in your next film”.
“Sure, you are so handsome to look at!” I praised.
“Were you the one who was escorting Rajkumar- I mean the hero, to the jail?”-I enquired, for I had a score to settle. The media had complained that I had not ended the script well by allowing the hero out of the van, and alone with the heroine while the policemen sat comfortably in the Police-van.
“Supposing the hero had runaway?”I attacked him.
“Not my fault , Amma,”He explained ,“The Director specifically told us that the last scene should be entirely the hero’s, so we should keep out of the way. Hence we left them alone to converse and weep to their heart’s content. The Cameramen around would have followed them, even if they had run to the end of the earth and shot them.” He ended with a chuckle.
We all had a good laugh.
“How is it you pay the Actresses so much, and us writers so little?” I couldn’t help questioning the Producer outright.
“The Actress dances, sings, quarrels, even dies when we command her. Do you do it?” He questioned me in turn.
I had no answer.
The most colorful among the race was a Malayaee Producer who came searching for me; Well, this time I was prudent enough to narrate only one story. I did not allow him to even touch the book! Even then he was so very impressed by the storyline, that he all at once got up and began enacting each part! Seriously wondered why our Kannada directors had missed such a masterpiece! Decided to teach them a lesson by bringing out a second ‘GONE WITH THE WIND’ based on my novel, and promised me all the glorious awards in the world!
He had arrived at our place when my husband was about to leave for office,. . . . . .was still there when he returned. . . .. . …. .
But now, where? ******