Film Education


Behind the scenes: “Clap Trap” Part 5 : SORAB IRANI

Behind the scenes: “Clap Trap” Part 5

By Sorab Irani – Chairman/Managing Director, SBI Impresario Pvt. Ltd.

The film was really created on the editing table. The film was commissioned by Farrukh Dhondy of Channel Four as a 25 minutes documentary. When we showed him the rough cut which was about 45 minutes he was so impressed that he immediately decided that it should be a 52 minuter. This involved more filming and a complete reedit.

There were many interesting episodes while filming.

Once while we were in the Men’s Extras association office a big male drunk extra attacked us, of course Navroze kept the camera rolling as long as he could, we were rescued in the nick of time by the other assembled extras.

On another occasion when we were filming at the Women’s Extras Associations office a big fight broke out among one group of ladies against the others – the dispute was that the association was making secrete deals outside the association with some select lady members, we caught the entire fight live and it turned out to be great observational footage. Later there was a big hue and cry about this and the Women’s Extras Association complained to my Producers Association saying it wanted this documentary stopped because it would show the ladies in a bad light. A compromise was reached that we would show them the completed film for their informal approval and a sizeable donation was made so that we could carry on with the making of the film.

It was just after the infamous communal riots in Bombay and one night we were all hauled off to the police station by jumpy cops as we were thought to be suspicious characters while we were filming at the Dadar flower market at 3 am in the morning.

Again while we were filming at Pummi’s home her drunk husband arrived and started a big fight. The police arrived and sorted this one out seeing that the man was very drunk, we were asked to press charges but refrained from doing so as he would pile more misery on Pummi later.

Local goons extracted money from us.

Packs of menacing stray dogs chased us at night while filming in certain localities, but such was the times and such was our brief.

The most painful part was the edit. Firstly we had so much footage, our filming ratio was generous but that meant syncing hours of footage. We could not use the traditional clap so Navroze would just clap his hand in front of the running camera or one of his assistant or one of us would perform the customary duty so that we could sync the footage later.

As all the exposed cans were printed the NG takes had to be synced and then removed. After that was done the footage had to be viewed and a rough structure had to be evolved. Deepak Saigal our editor suggested that we do a paper edit of sorts so that we can all think and agree on a sort of rough first assembly. This exercise meant that edge numbers of each shot had to be written in a log with reference to the exposed can numbers a mighty task in itself owing to the huge amount of footage. Battles royal ensured between the director and the editor as the director would come up with a fresh idea and completely change what was done the previous day. There was no Avid machine or any computer assistance, it all had to be done manually. Shots found from cans and shots put back in cans, doing this for months can get on your nerves. The editor had two assistants only for this job. To add to this there was a fire and we had to shift to another editing room, that was a night mare because if shots got lost we had to get them printed again from the lab only with the help of exposed can numbers whose reference we got from the continuity sheets of the filming. The negative dare not be handled in those days, remember we were 16mmwalls and not 35mm mainstream bollywood.

The story carries on in my next post

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4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Wow, this is what I love to read. Please feed me more. Amazing experience like my travelogues. I used to meet extraordinary experiences like Punjab’s Rowdy Police, Bihari Goons, Assamese ULFA Gang, Rajasthani Ghosts, Kolkatta’s Micheal Schumacher Truck Driver etc….

Comment by Agastya Kapoor

Yes film shooting can be quite something :)!

Comment by oorvazi

The dogs chasing, The tiffs with two drunk men, problems with cops was all at the end of the day worth it 🙂

Comment by Siddhesh

Many times when you are making the film and in constant crisis management you tell your self “God knows why I got into this” and after its over, the joy of the creation makes it all worthwhile and you get into it all over again 🙂

Comment by oorvazifilmeducation




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