IshkIshkIshk.Prod Story 1

On Oct 21, 1973 an Indian Airlines flight bound for New Delhi was preparing to take off from Mumbai. Nearly half of the Caravelle aircraft was occupied by the unit members of to be launched film, ‘Ishk Ishk Ishk’ being produced under the banner of Navketan International Films (P) Ltd. The ambience was vibrant with loud excited voices, handshakes, high5s and hugs. Most of the people knew each other. Dev Saab (Mr. Dev Anand) the actor, writer, producer and director of the film was in his usual high spirits. He was walking briskly down the isle to ask his unit members individually if they were comfortable.
My anxiety and nervousness had peaked as my life’s first airplane flight was about to take off. Airplane’s various changing sounds had been making me nervous. I was trying to occupy my mind by finding faces of known actors. I found Jeevan, Premnath and Nadira. But mainly my eyes and mind were on this phenomenon called Dev Anand. I wanted him to recognize me, since earlier I had been an assistant in ‘Darling Darling’, staring Dev Saab and Zeenat Aman. The film was directed by his nephew Gogi Anand (now no more). But Dev Saab’s energy level in the airplane was at its legendary level; the level which has been recognized by the entire film fraternity. They say when Dev Saab is on the sets of his own movie no one can walk along with him; Dev Saab does not sit; Dev Saab never goes back to makeup room unless it is lunch time… In Oct 1973 he had just turned 50 and was oozing with youth.
The plane landed at Delhi and the unit was accommodated for an overnight stay in Oberoi and Lodhi Hotel. Next morning a Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation (RNAC), Boeing-737 took us to Kathmandu and then took a connecting RNAC Avro to Pokhra – our final destination. This 48 seat Avro, was full of the film unit entirely. When the flight was about to land at Pokhra, I looked at the landscape below and got very nervous. It seemed to me that there might be some kind of emergency since the aircraft was descending directly into a field. The plane went straight ahead and landed smoothly on a seemingly unprepared surface. Pokhra had such a basic airport. I was told that before a flight landed here, they blow a siren to alert the shepherds to drive their cattle away from the air strip. While the helpers were collecting our luggage and we just walked off, crossed a narrow road and entered our hotel. As easy as that!
In the meanwhile another caravan consisting of two trucks and a bus load of technicians had left Mumbai a week in advance. It carried all the hardware stuff like lights, camera trolleys, cranes, electric sockets, stands, cutters and other related stuff. Dev Saab’s nephew Hersh Kohli, the production controller of Navketan was traveling with this unit. They too reached in time to meet the other unit. This road journey must have been real fun, though surely a bit long.
A third unit consisting of the Art Director, T K Desai, his assistants and carpenters had been at hotel ‘Fish Tail Lodge’ since the end of September, at least to construct a set in the premises of the hotel. The set was a large two story wooden house. Production had agreed that after the film shoot was over, the house would be handed over to the owner of the hotel, Fred Barker. So the house-set was made really very sturdy and good looking inside out. It had many fully functional and decorated bedrooms for Nadira & Premnath and their daughters in the film, Zeenat Aman, Zarina Wahab, Komal, Komila Wirk, Guddi, and Padmini Kolhapure.
Entire unit was accommodated in four different hotels. Technicians like me, twelve model girls and equipments were in Annapurna; Shekhar Kapoor, Gautam Sarin and Kabir Bedi were in Hotel Crystal, light-boys etc were in another place and senior actors and cinematographer Fali Mistry were in Fish Tail Lodge. Here again I noticed Dev Saab was going to each room in Hotel Crystal to check if all his actors were fine. Dev Saab is very pro-actor director. I was introduced formally to him as the recordist for the film in the passage of the hotel. He knew me but it was the first time that we were going to be dealing with each other directly. He said ‘hi Arun, very good’ with a firm hand shake, patted my shoulder and carried on to check other rooms.
Fish Tail Lodge was one of the main locations for the film shoot. In the film this hotel was christened as ‘Seven Sisters Inn’, as its owner husband and wife team of Premnath and Nadira supposedly had seven daughters. Hotel’s entire landscape was the set for the film; the rooms, restaurant, lawns, even the kitchen. It was such a pretty locale. The hotel had various structures scattered on a large area, with Fewa Lake along its length, snow-clad mountains in the background and clear deep blue sky. It was about 20 minutes drive from our hotel. Vehicles had to be parked at the edge of Fewa Lake, as the road ended there. So to reach the hotel, a narrow part of a lake had to be crossed by a flat bamboo raft. This raft was tied to both ends of the lake with ropes. You had to pull the rope to drag the raft to other end. The raft was about 10×10 ft, square, so not more than 10 people could stand on it. It was a beautiful way to cross the lake and kept pollution away from the hotel premise.

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