The cardigans ride again

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Arindam Chaudhuri’s next movie is banking on reuniting Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh, says Gunjan Batra

Zipping together Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh in a publicity still for Do Dooni Char
Photo: Planman Motion Pictures

MANAGEMENT GURU, bestselling author and honorary dean at the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, the indefatigable Arindam Chaudhuri also likes to make films. He accepts the disastrous failure of his 2004 debut feature by saying, “If I hadn’t done that, today I might have made a Rs. 50 crore disaster. ” He watches two films a week and today claims to know “exactly how not to make a Rok Sako Toh Rok Lo.” Now that recession is waning, he’s begun work on new projects, the most exciting of which is an effort to recreate the Rishi Kapoor-Neetu Singh onscreen magic in a film titled Do Dooni Char.

A story developed in-house by Planman Motion Pictures CEO Shekhar Bhattacharjee and directed by Habib Faisal, Do Dooni Char is about a schoolteacher who realises that his students start their careers with a car but he, approaching retirement, still can’t afford one. The challenge, explains Chaudhuri, is like mere ghar ke aage bhee gaadi aayegi (a car will be parked in front of my house too).” Recalling the time when his father “finally gave in” and bought a “a portable black and white television that would be locked up in his Godrej cupboard only to be taken out for certain programmes,” Chaudhuri says it’s a film “every middle class family will be able to relate to, especially teachers”.

Those expecting a glamorous Neetu Singh might be surprised at her wardrobe

Those expecting a glamorous Neetu might be a tad surprised. “She had to cut her nails, change her hair, wear salwar kameez (from the export-reject market in Sarojini Nagar, New Delhi), wear socks with her salwar and wear chappals throughout the movie,” says Chaudhuri.

Another movie on education so soon after 3 Idiots? “I wish I’d made 3 Idiots,” he exclaims. “You watch 3 Idiots and graduate out of a three-year course in filmmaking. We’re not even looking at anything at that level. The day I can break down a film’s script, dialogue and screenplay to that level, where every second is filled with a value of probably 10 minutes, and every 10 minutes has a three-hour film in it, I’d say we have arrived.” He distinguishes his effort thus: “That’s about a student’s roller-coaster journey, this is about a teacher’s life — a totally different track.”

Chaudhuri aspires to make an Inglourious Basterds one day. According to the self-styled media mogul, that Disney has made Do Dooni Char their India launch vehicle “has instantly helped the film. It’s a big brand and there is a huge segment of people who identify Disney with clean, family films — no expletives, not even saala”. Was Disney easy to work with? “We think we’re professional and make a film and give it to Disney. It goes to Americans who don’t necessarily understand Hindi, but they send a list of 50 things that we’ve to still do on the film — everything logical. Things like — if there’s an auto with a visible branded sticker or a Kissan sauce bottle in a kitchen shot — anything, anywhere with any company name — it meant we had to get an NOC from that company.” He laughs, “Here we lift entire scripts and make films without any permissions, and there, for long shots with a Kissan sauce bottle in the background we had to get an NOC. That’s learning. Next time we’ll want to be like that.”

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