The Hindi film industry usually referred to as ‘Bollywood’ has often earned the stigma of being a not very nice place. Where dreams are crushed before they soar, where tricksters often lead those with stars in their eyes down paths of despair, where people are cheated, monies are denied, credit is snatched, basically where most of the seven deadly sins are practiced day in and day out. I beg to differ. Not that the path in this Tinsel town doesn’t have potholes, ups and downs, but then which business doesn’t? In my experience I have been fortunate to meet people who have been Jolly good to me!
Human beings who have not only appreciated and supported me but also gone beyond the call of duty to help me out when things looked dark and bleak or when I needed a favor! These acts of kindness and humaneness instilled the belief in me that we are a fraternity that looks out for one another. A few years back when I was going through a financial lean phase, I needed to raise a large amount of money instantly. At that time all my producers from Sanjay Gupta to Indra Kumar/Ashok Thakeria, to Anil Kapoor, gave me all the balance money that was owed to me way before they were contractually supposed to! If they had chosen not to, they would have been totally justified as not only was my share of work left but also there was ample time for the release of their respective projects. Again, when a phase arrived where some films I wrote did well at the Box Office, Sanjay Gupta on his own cost and effort threw a lavish and wonderful success party for me at his house! Where else do you find people who celebrate the achievements of others? When I directed my first film ‘Jaane Kahan se Aayi hai’ a host of celebs like Akshay Kumar sir, Priyanka Chopra, Karan Johar, Sajid Khan, Farah Khan, Amrita Rao, Boman Irani did cameos in the film totally free of cost! To add to this, for the same film Sajid Nadiadwala sir allowed me to shoot with his camera and DOP while canning the cameo by Akshay Kumar sir! A similar favor was done in my second film ‘Mastizaade’ by Ritesh Deshmukh! During the shoot a mishap happened where his clothes caught fire. But he still stayed on and didn’t leave till he completed the last shot! After ‘Shootout at Wadala’ released, Sanjay Gupta invited my wife and me to Durban for an award show where the film was showcased.
The first night after dinner, he took me to the side, gave me a bundle of dollars in my hand and told me to blow it up on buying gifts for my wife and family. In those days I was running low on cash and in his heart he knew it. I will never forget that gesture of his. Years back when my first film ‘Jaane Kahan se aayi hai’ tanked at the Box Office, I got a call out of the blue from Rohit Shetty. In those days ‘Golmaal 3’ was on the verge of release. He was submerged in work. But somewhere having realized I must be low, he took me out to lunch at ‘MainLand China’ in Lokhandwala’ He spent almost 3 hours with me chatting, joking, lifting my spirits and in general making me feel that I mattered. We weren’t working together then. He had nothing to gain from me. But he still did so. This year when I worked with him on the ‘Ranveer Ching’ commercial, I reminded him about that time and he shyly brushed it aside like the wonderful person that he is. Sujoy Ghosh is another gem of a human being who not only gave me my first heroine in Jacqueline despite having said no to other big wigs, but also allowed me to use the title ‘Raakh’ which was registered in his name, for my upcoming short film! Speaking of ‘Raakh’ every actor and technician came on board not caring about money, but for the love of the film and to support my attempt to do something different.
They have worked day and night with all their passion and creativity to make my dream come true! When ‘Mastizaade’ failed, I needed to start a new script and work on it. At that time Tushar Hiranandani who was totally submerged in work with barely any time to breathe, did his best to take out time for me. He used to go for a walk on carter road and tell me to join him while we discussed. The few precious hours he took out on a regular basis from his busy schedule for me, meant the world to me in those days. There are many such instances where my fellow colleagues, seniors, have gone out of their way to not just help me but also others. Its easy to malign and throw mud on the industry, because it doesn’t cost anything to do so. But in reality our industry is a fraternity of people who eat, sleep, live, die for movies and for each other. This Diwali lets rise from the ‘Raakh’ of pettiness and be proud that we are part of this world where we bring dreams to celluloid and also fulfill so many dreams in real life. For me the Indian Film industry, or Bollywood as its called is ‘JOLLY GOOD!’