Jio MAMI Movie Mela: Directors explain how they keep their cool on nutty sets

This year’s Jio MAMI Film Festival’s Movie Mela hosted actors, directors and producers from across the film industry. In a set of discussions with stars like Deepika Padukone and upcoming actresses like Ananya Pandey and Janhvi Kapoor, and other discussions that brought together filmmakers, the mela was a crazy one to say the least.

Flocking to the auditorium, what people wanted was a glimpse of Deepika, Alia and Kareena, all of whom were lined up to chat with Festival director Anupama Chopra, movie critic Rajeev Masand, and Producer-Director-Talk show host Karan Johar.

One session during the day that particularly caught our attention was the one where six eminent filmmakers chatted with Anupama Chopra and Rajeev Masand, letting the audience in on all their behind-the-scenes secrets: How they operate on a film set, how angry they get, and the few quirks they have.

We believe every filmmaker has quirks. Think Manoj Night Shyamalan, who has always been ahead of the game among Hollywood’s writer-directors, and Alfred Hitchcock, both of whom made doing cameos in their movies their signature. No one expects it, and the director shows up from nowhere as a character and throws a googly at the audience.

“Setiquette” was the word thrown around at the event to describe the batty filmmakers’ on-set behaviour. The audience, hoping to imbibe some of their own, as future directors and producers, listened with patience about the idiosyncrasies that underlie making it big. No jokes.

Konkona Sen who was on the panel, director of A Death in the Gunj, a film that explores the human psychology of a troubled soul, said mostly she called for “silence” on her film sets. Amar Kaushik, Director of Stree and Bala, said all he wanted was the “happiness of my crew” on sets.

Siddharth Anand, director of Bang Bang and War, who was at his charming best, said he treasures his actors coming to set on time and punctual actors were always an asset.

Raazi director Meghna Gulzar put a more intellectual spin to the debate of the day and said she felt most happy on set when “magic happens” when “the one scene you are dreading” works out. “Kya kar rahe ho” is Gulzar’s favourite line on sets.

Gulzar saab and former actress Raakhee’s daughter said another top line for her was, “chalo chalo, shot ready hai.” In doing so, the filmmakers present, spoke about how easily they bestride Hindi and English while making their films come to life on sets.

Sriram Raghavan of Badlapur fame loves referring to his actors as “bachelog” and said he wanted to “create a sense of playfulness” on his serious sets.

Chopra then quizzed them about whether they ever walk off from their sets in a huff, upset with the proceedings of the day. Sen replied that she hasn’t done that so far, because perhaps a situation like that never arose that made her lose her senses.

Anand admitted to having an ugly temper on sets and said directors who claim to be cool, were probably joking. “I have broken mics, monitors, and I do have a ridiculous temper,” Anand confessed proudly also hinting at all the damage his production has incurred at his behest.

The directors also spoke about their number one beverage of choice on location. Sen said she has “endless cups of black coffee” from her thermos. Amit Sharma said that Badhaai Ho was a hit because he kept his head cool with chaas and green tea all day.

The directors and producers on the panel also laid down their cellphone use policy for their actors during the evening. Even though cellphone addictions on set were usually frowned upon, often they got to know that their unit and their actors had been on it during the day, going by their insta updates when they logged in at the end of a tiring day. “It’s then that you realise they have had a completely opposite day from you,” Gulzar said laughingly.

“Chup chup ke insta pe log in karte hai,” offered Kaushik as he tried to humour everyone present.