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September 21, 1999


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Four's a Gang

Kanchana Suggu

Gang I knew I should have gone and talked to him. But I was terrified. Nana Patekar -- sporting white trousers, a brown-and-yellow shirt and a fearsome expression -- looked liked something out of my worst nightmare.

I took a deep breath and stole another look at Patekar. It didn't help -- he still looked quite scary. So I decided I was going to be just a silent observer on the sets of Gang.

The film was supposed to be the late Mazhar Khan's directorial debut, starring Nana Patekar, Jackie Shroff, Jaaved Jafferi, Kumar Gaurav and Juhi Chawla. Unlike Dus, which did not find any takers after Mukul Anand's untimely demise, Gang is being readied for the big screen by Maqsoor Chowdhry, who initially worked as Mazhar's assistant.

"Mazhar," said Chowdhry, "had completed the entire film. I am only handling the technical aspect." And, we presume, the little patchwork that remains. Otherwise, what were he and the stars of Gang doing at the Lokhandwala bridge on a muggy August afternoon?

The weather, though, had obviously not dampened Chowdhry's enthusiasm. "Everyone who has seen the rushes of the film has simply loved it. Mazhar has done a superb job! The entire industry is waiting for this film," he gushed.

What is the film all about? "It," said Chowdhry, "revolves around four friends -- Gangu (Jackie Shroff), Abdul (Nana Patekar), Nihal (Kumar Gaurav) and Gary (Jaaved Jafferi). Which is why the film is called Gang"

G for Gangu, A for Abdul....get it?

Scene I

Meanwhile, the unit was getting ready for the shoot after lunch break. Reflectors were being adjusted, the cinematographer had slipped behind the camera, the junior artistes were drifting back into location. Lunch, obviously, was over.

The shoot, we were told, was about to resume.

Gang It was time to continue with the picturisation of a song, which everyone believes will be the film's main attraction. Shot on the four leading men, the song, though, showed all indications of being a sudden, last-minute addition.

It started to pour, but that did not bother anyone. We were told, once again, that shooting would resume shortly..

Finally, about half-an-hour later, Jackie stepped out of his van, in blue jeans which had orange flames. A wave of excitement passed through the crowd which had gathered to watch the stars.

Dance director Ahmed Khan (of Rangeela and, more recently, Taal fame) took Jackie through his steps. Then the other three men -- Kumar Gaurav, Nana Patekar and Jaaved Jafferi -- appeared and went through the same routine.

The crowd began to inch nearer to the stars, only to be pushed back by a burly set of men who, it seemed, were specially hired for the task. So the fans had to be satisfied with long-distance hero worship.

Lights! camera! Finally, there was some action! Jackie, Nana and Gaurav were supposed to look surprised on seeing Jaaved and run towards him. It took two to three takes -- interspersed with Jackie's make-up man rushing in to dab some moisture from his face -- before they managed to look sufficiently amazed and did the perfect run.

Everyone looked relieved, but there was no time to stand and stare. The next scene was to be shot, on the other side of the road, and everyone, and everything, had to be shifted to the other side.

Which means that the public also had to move -- to the other side.

Scene II

Once again, the scene featured the four men, along with a few junior artistes. It was like this: Jackie, Nana and Gaurav had to hit Jaaved -- all in jest, of course -- pick him up and carry him away while all the junior other artistes did was laugh.

But of course, it took several takes and retakes before the scene was finalised.

It was almost 5pm by then. The vehicles, which were passing by, would stop every now and then, for the people inside to take a look at the stars. Jackie, in turn, would wave out to the excited onlookers.

We found out that Jaaved was to continue shooting, but it was pack-up time for Jackie, Nana and Gaurav and that they were just about to leave...

The Cast

Jackie told us how this was a very emotional film for him. But isn't 10 years a long time? "So what? Even Mughal-e-Azam was shot for 10 years. It's a beautiful film and that's all that matters," was his reply.

Gang Jaaved had similar feelings about the movie, saying that everybody is "connected" to the film. "It's the love story of four friends." And? "G-a-n-g is what we call ourselves," he explained. So what's the film's selling point? After a long pause, Jaaved answered, "It's more about the relationship of these four friends and less about gang wars."

Predictably, Gaurav too, said he was happy that Mazhar's dream is being fulfilled, though he preferred to remain tightlipped about his role.

Now, where does Juhi feature in all this, we wonder! She is opposite Jackie, that's all we got to know.

Unfortunately, we were unable to get Nana's comment on the film. He looked unapproachable right till the end.

Here's a movie which sure is 'different.' Different because it's been 10 years in the making.

The shooting for Gang began in 1989 under the direction of Mazhar Khan. But due to his poor health and eventually his death, the filming got delayed and couldn't be completed by him.

Now, the film is being readied for a Diwali release.

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