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April 29, 1998


Pure magic!

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Sharmila Taliculam

Nitin Manmohan. Click for bigger pic!
You want to grab that gleaming ice cream as slowly, a juicy glop slides off, you duck when an arrow comes at you. Natural, if it wasn't only happening on screen. And if that makes you gasp, it sends Nitin Manmohan into ecstacies.

Why else would he want to reproduce Chhota Chetan, a 12-year-old 3D flick, peppering it with additional special effects and songs to wow the kids. Of course, he's secured himself by putting in Urmila Matondkar. In 3D, it would give adults incentive to bring children over.

But it's also cost money. Which is why when 3D films began flopping after Chhota Chetan, the genre went out of fashion. And there was the fact that 3D movies caused eyestrain and resultant headaches.

Navodaya, which made the first Chhota Chetan initially planned to revamp the movie and release it again. They tried it in south India and it was a money-spinner. Nitin Manmohan, who saw the revised film, thought he could do one better in Bombay, and so bought the rights of the film. And that's what's running now at the theatres in the Hindi belt, coming out just in time to catch children out on vacation.

A still from Chhota Chetan. Click for bigger pic!
"Children want something different and if I can give them a roller-coaster ride of a different kind, so what's the harm?" asks Manmohan. Just that a child or two may lean too far over the balcony rail trying to grab those flying balloons.

Convinced that children are a big audience, he took some trouble remaking the movie.

"The entire generation has changed. We saw it when we were small. Now we want our kids to see it. For us, it was a major trip and I am sure it is the same today. This is going to work in a major way."

He saw the film four or five times over before he decided to reshoot it and release it in Bombay. And because he has this thing against dubbed films, he re-shot the film with a new cast. That's how Urmila Matondkar, Satish Kaushik, Shakti Kapoor, Harish and Ravi Baswani came in. The new sequences he merged with the old ones. Which is why a computer astrologer and a stage magician come to aid the kids.

Nitin Manmohan has not made the film. The producer is Appachhan of Navodaya and the director is Jijo, as in the old version.

Click for bigger pic!
"The difference is the sound. And the music. Anu Malik has done the music all over again and the technology is DTS. As the effects are really good. We have enhanced the sound quality hundred per cent. The overall totality of the film is amazing and looks so good. It doesn't look like a old film at all," says Manmohan. And those who have seen it admit they can't make where the old bit ends and the new one begins.

But 3D films call for special steps. So Nitin trained 40 to 50 people, each to lead a group of 16 people. These teams are to be posted in theatres across the country to hand over, collect and sterilise the special spectacles required to see the film. Also Nitin had some trouble convincing theatre owners to replace their screens with a special metallic one, to place a 3D lens over the projector before aligning the unit precisely. There were also special arc lamps he had to get theatre owners to put in the projector.

"If you make a 3D film, then you take some pains, have patience and see the infrastructure is in place. Then we can give the audience something new and we know they will lap it up."

Nitin's next film, probably also in 3D, has Karisma Kapoor in the lead. Called a sequel now, it may be changed later, depending on Chhota Chetan's fortunes. That film is to target the teenage segment, with Karisma playing a college girl. And there's not much else Nitin will tell you about the film, other than the fact that it will be produced by Navodaya and directed by Rajiv Kumar, and supervised by Jijo. The music will be by A R Rahman.

A still from Chhota Chetan. Click for bigger pic!
"Earlier, when Chhota Chetan was a hit, people fell into the trap of making more films like it. The technology went phut within a year. We don't want that to happen with us. We will make the second film regardless of Chhota Chetan's success."

He says he doesn't use too many special effects. "3D means special effects. I believe it is just another technology and should be used to the minimum. Also that this film is not only for children. Adults enjoy it as much. The film brings out the child in you."

Manmohan is working on another film too, the late Mukul Anand's Dus, now to be directed by Ramesh Sippy.

"Earlier I got the rights of Anjali but nobody was ready to touch the film because I wanted the audience to see this kind of cinema. That film was not a success. I expected that, but the select audience who saw the film were stunned that these kind of films were being made in India."

Nitin is confident that his kind of cinema can have an audience too. "I am ready to take the effort. It will not go to waste".

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