Second phase in my professional life, I would imagine would be the start of my inning as a chief recordist, leaving behind the days of assistantship; the days of, “yes sir, I will do it sir”. First feeling I got after turning the big leap in my career was that it was not easy to inform people that I have got elevated to next level of responsibility. Frankly speaking taking independent work for which you can be held responsible is huge. The movies cost millions and everyone’s sensibility or dumbness can make or break a film. It is true that no recordist gets kudos if a film does well at the box office, but if it doesn’t then there may be a chance that some idiot producer might come out with, ‘people said audience was getting irritated of the sound track’. Bullshit!
But my elevation from the assistant to recordist by none other than Dev Anand’s Navketan made a huge splash. Many of my colleagues were clearly and openly jealous, especially some seniors. Those days it was a very big deal to work for Navkatan in any capacity. And if they happen to give you the first ‘break’ then you would be the luckiest bum. Informing my boss, that I will not be assisting him anymore, was one of the most tedious jobs that I had to go through. Luckily he had already come to know of it from many other sources. So thankfully I had to only look down and smile sheepishly, adding, ‘of course I will finish the work on the films I still have with you.’
This has been a kind of negative part of my life. In various stages of my life few people have always been jealous of me and that doesn’t work too well. Sometime or the other negative vibes get you. Some people tried to dissuade me from thinking that Navketan will give me next film also, ‘don’t think you have become Navketan’s recordist, unless they keep you for the next movie too. It is better to join Mehboob studio’s music recording.’ At least you will get a salary every month. But I was too happy enjoying my time being a part of shooting units. I couldn’t imagine myself sitting on the same chair placed between the same four walls every day. I had made very good friends in Navketan. There was no way that they would throw me out, I thought.
It turned out to be a dream run. They gave me all their forth coming movies. I got the rare chance to work with all the ‘Anand’ brothers – Dev, Chetan and Vijay. I also worked with all three nephews of Mr Dev Anand – Bhisham, Hersh and Yash Kohli. I did some unique projects too, like ‘Anand aur Anand’, which starred Mr. Dev Anand’s son Suniel’s first film as an actor. I also did ‘Hum Naujawan’, only film produced by Devina, Mr Dev Anand’s daughter. I believe ‘Hum Naujawan’ did quite well.
I happened to work for many films which were Navketan’s sister concerns, like Abhinav Productions who made ‘Bhalamaanus’ with Randhir Kapoor and Neetu Singh and later ‘Mere Baad’ with Rakhee and Anupam Kher.
This is the phase I enjoyed a lot. I had learnt that doing sound effects seriously and economically makes a lot of difference. Because of that I became quite a favorite of the re-recording ace, Mangesh Desai. But real technical enjoyment of ‘sound track’ was not happening. It comes only when you do what you think is right and then hear it on the screen. Most of the SFx, I did working at nights was not heard in mixing due to undue importance given to background music. Producers would think, he has spent good money on recording new BG music, while the effects are done in house. They just thought that music was superior and effective as a cinematic tool than ‘sound effects’ 😦 Well, at that time I didn’t think and I didn’t care, though I did feel bad, that many of my sounds were not heard due to over-powering music. I never came across a producer who would do justice to the effects. But then I hadn’t met, Late Dr. Jagmohan Mundhra, who also became a very good friend after ‘Surag’. He was a film maker in the US, so it was only right that he would produce with those ideas. Of course the first person to give importance to the effects was Awtar Kaul, who made 27Dn. Incidently, he too studied and worked in the US. I recorded so many sound effects throughout his shooting in trains.
It will be difficult to point out to a film in which I might have loved my sound work. Exceptions would be two of the three films I did with Jagmohan, ‘Surag’ and ‘Kamla’.