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|March 15, 2000||
Censoring Dev Anand
His last hit as director was Hare Rama Hare Krishna. The films that followed were not only total disasters at the box office, they did not win him any accolades either. Yet, actor-producer-director Dev Anand's enthusiasm has not abated -- he continues making one film after an other.
At the moment, he is busy shooting Censor, inspired, it is believed, by the trouble he faced from the august body over his last film, Main Solah Baras Ki.
He is shooting a song sequence at R K Studios, which is being picturised on four newcomers. A small stage with a backdrop of the rising sun has been set up on one of the floors. It is filled with a crowd of colourfully and traditionally dressed dancers. Everyone is waiting for the okay from the lighting and camera departments.
Devsaab is not to be seen anywhere. In the meanwhile, we are introduced to dance director Madhav and some of the technicians. We take a quick look at the sets and, apart from the stage, find a small bar with stools. One corner has a colourful background, with Happy New Year and Welcome To The New Millennium scrawled across it.
We also spot the lead pairs of the film, Heenie Kaushik, Vinay Anand (Govinda's nephew), Raja and the new girl, Mohini, whose 'ethnic' clothes reveal more than they cover! She is chatting with Heenie, who hardly looks like the stuff heroines are made of in her traditional yellow Punjabi outfit. Vinay, sporting a Punjabi lungi and turban, looks the most confident of the lot.
Just then Devsaab arrives on the sets with his secretary. After greeting us, he goes to his director's chair on the right side of the stage, signalling to us to follow him. We sit under the strong klieg lights, which makes the already unbearable heat worse.
"Censor," says Devsaab, "is about a film that gets held up with the censors due to their rigidity. The message in the film is that one has to move with the times and quit the orthodox way of thinking. With the invasion of satellite television, the whole generation is exposed to a different, more liberal culture. Things that were taboo yesterday are being openly discussed today. The Censor Board too should change the way they look at films."
We ask him about the long list of guest appearancesm -- Govinda, Jackie Shroff, Rekha, Hema Malini, Mamta Kulkarni, Shammi Kapoor... We are informed that Govinda is doing a song. The other stars are playing well-etched, well-defined characters. They are not cursory guest appearances.
Rekha plays the role of a Censor Board member. Dev Anand plays the director of the film that gets stalled with the censors. Hema Malini plays his wife. Mamta Kulkarni is the frustrated film actress and Jackie Shroff is the liberal Muslim teacher.
Devsaab adds that shooting with most of the stars is complete. Even while talking to us, his attention is on the cameraman, who is still busy with the settings. Devsaab orders him to hurry.
When asked about the present shot, he says it is a party song on New Year's eve. "This song depicts both national integration and the fun and excitement of the New Year, the dawn of new millennium. The background of the rising sun is supposed to indicate the dawn of a new era. The song will have different backdrops, including the Tricolour and a painting of the new millennium."
The cameraman is now ready for the shot. The dance director signals his unit and all the dancers are instantly on the stage, taking their respective positions. They are joined on stage by the lead stars. The song plays, the camera rolls and everyone swirls to the music.
Only to be stopped by dance director Madhav. Raja, one of the leads, is not up to the mark. He encourages him to be more rhythmic and shows him the steps again. We ask Devsaab if Censor might run in to trouble with the censors.
Either he has already thought about this or has answered this question umpteen times. His reply is prompt -- he is not against the Censor Board. He is simply making a statement that the Board should alter its views in keeping with the changing times. Besides, the film has no sex or violence, just a few tense moments here and there.
But the Censor Board receives its directives from the central government. "The government is not the country," says Devsaab. "The people who constitute the audience should be asked what they want to see and what they do not want to see. A film-maker should be allowed the freedom to express his views in his own country."
We ask him if he is happy with the way Censor is shaping up. We are rewarded with the famous Dev smile and a vigorous nod! He says he has completely isolated himself from the outside world for the film. It has been only work, work and more work.
One may not watch his films, may not even agree with his views. Yet, one can't help but admire his enthusiasm and infectious energy on the sets. He now joins Madhav and Raja to help sort out the problem. He seems to be living the character of the dedicated director in Censor to life! It only remains to be seen whether -- like in the film -- he receives an award for Censor!
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