Someone born in a lower middle class, orthodox, conservative family of Uttar Pradesh, had appeared for a written test for admission in the Film Institute of India – ‘just for fun’. As a child his only connection with movies was singing film songs and enviously watching film posters of his favorite stars displayed in lobbies of theaters. But soon he found that his ‘just for fun’ turned into a very serious business.
It seems he did well enough to be called for an interview to the film institute at Pune! His family had never visited a big city so far, except Delhi. His father had given him a contact in Bombay to stay overnight. He had told him, if you don’t get through don’t get dishearten, see Bombay and return. That felt good. But a much bigger shock was waiting in the wings. His plans to return back home soon turned sour because he found his name in the list of successful candidates! Instantly, he was faced with the worst crises of his life, at that young age. He felt he was in a whirlpool that was churning at a furious pace. He had to take a life altering decision all by himself, right then! Well, after a few intense minutes of massive mental upheaval, figuring pros and cons; he decided to jump in. Even though he was all of 18, he was a very bold person! So deciding to join ‘sound recording and sound engineering’ course at the FII, was the best option then!
My ‘Sound Recording’ course got over in the end of April, 1972. The very next day after the formalities of final semester were done with; I vacated the hostel, packed my bag and landed in Bombay. It was 3 May, 1972. which I still call it my second ‘birthday’. In a true ‘filmy style’; I was faced with a horryifying situation of spending my first night on a street (!), in a totally unknown and forbidding land. My exposure to Bombay has been only through movies, which has been extremely frightening, especially for new comers. My batch-mate friend Arun Chakravarty had got accommodation in a lodge, where I had parked my bag. But after 9 pm the owner would not let any outsider remain in. So, I had to get out and start walking up and down… to kill time. How much ‘time’ would that be? I had no idea. Mentally I was prepared to spend the night, in the open… In a while I sat down on a bench opposite the lodge. I was visualizing a cop to appear, question me harshly, ‘what was I doing sitting there so late or might threaten me to go home or just get lost…’
It was past 11 pm. Most of lodge lights were off. My eyes were glued to the lodge gate, that held all the comfort and security behind it. Suddenly I saw a figure at the gate. My friend, gingerly opened the shutter of the lodge, he gestured me to come. Very quietly he sneaked me into his room… and… very narrowly I escaped the adventure of sleeping on a cement bench at Lallu Bhai Park, Andheri. Next day, on May 4, my another Institute friend had found a large room for me at Arab Bunglaow, Khetwadi Main Road (Girgaon). I had been allotted a bed out of four available in the room. Best part was other 3 beds were occupied by my Film Institute friends. I would stay here for the next 5 years and would become very close friends of land-lord Jayant Patel and his entire family.
In a few days I found myself working as a recording assistant in a number of movies. Now I was not only working with those very stars I admired from a distance, but also became a part of their team! Within a year and a half I bid goodbye to being an assistant recordist; as in Oct 1973, I got a break in film ‘Ishk Ishk Ishk‘ as Navketan’s chief ‘sound recordist’.
By 1985, I had done nearly 25 feature films. At this stage I decided to quit Navketan and reduce working for feature films.
I changed my track towards documentaries and did ‘sound’ for many established documentary makers. Here I got exposure to working as a production manager and writer. Experience of these vital areas of film making, helped me in producing and directing a few documentaries of my own.