My Bumpy Beginning

On May 3, 1972, when I reached Bombay from Poona for good, I had no place to stay. First night in Bombay was a usual scene picked up from old Hindi movies. The hero lands in the city of dreams. He has no where to go, no place to stay and no one knows him. You are destined to keep your bag under your head and try to get a little sleep on a pavement. In my case it was a cement bench of a garden. Well, not exactly but almost; at 11.30pm I was quietly smuggled into a lodge by a friend, after the watchful manager had retired. I had been thrown out once with a curt, ‘no guests are allowed after 10pm.’ I had no idea how do I find a place to stay. After making quite a few calls next day, I managed to grab an iron cot in a room with three others at Khetwadi, in south Bombay. I got it on the recommendation of another Ftiian. So, instead of feeling that I was going from frying pan to the fire, I bounced back to a mini hostel. All four of us were from the same alma mater. Thank god so much for that. I was saved from getting lost in this mammoth city with unknown people. I may have lost my confidence entirely and perhaps even thought of going back to my parents for a while. And that would have changed my destiny completely. But finding old friends in the same room was a big stroke of luck.
After this I had no idea how to go about finding work. So, I started going to a restaurant called Sanman at Churchgate to sit with a few seniors and ask them casually if there was any clash work for me. Obviously everyone placated me with a ‘sure will let you know’. But I don’t remember doing more than 2 days of clash, that too without any money. What we call ‘clash’ in Bollywood-terms is a replacement for someone who can not attend his work due to two professional engagements at the same time. So he calls another available assistant who can attend the shoot who will get paid only the travel allowance of Rs.5! Those were the days.
Soon I realized that this was not right. It was no good a way to find work. No body was going to call me. So I decided that it was better to stay at home and save money rather than go to Churchgate too often. As if on cue, in a few days my finances fell dangerously low. I sent an SOS to my parents and in a few days I received a money order of Rs 500 from them. I promised myself that I will try to make this, as the last money order from home. After this I slept. I just slept day in and day out. People sometimes got worried as I was not waking up even to eat. One day, I dreamt, I was dying. The nightmare was so convincing that I woke up with a massive fright; thankfully only to realize that it was the hunger of a Kumbhkaran that had caused the nightmare. I knew going out costs money and eating costs money. So I did not stop sleeping. Remember ‘Forest Gump’? Tom Hanks starts running one day and he keeps running and running… for years. I too did not stop sleeping until after 15 days I heard a voice repeatedly overlapping on my dreams, ‘get up you got a phone call’. It was about a film shooting next day, which would fetch me Rs 25 per day. After this for the next 3 years I did not get time to rest or to sleep. I did even get time to come back to my room to change my clothes for days.
In the next 18 months I assisted in 6 films. I was given the break as chief recordist by Navketan, the most popular film company of that time, owned by star actor Dev Anand. This break broke the hearts of few who had been nourishing an ambition of being a Navketan person for ages.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s