Film Education

“Ganesa” – A 30 minute documentary on Lord Ganesh (1998)

“Ganesa” (1998) – Directed and Produced by Sorab Irani

The Ganesh festival is world famous and synonymous with Mumbai. Yet while millions of us Mumbaikars take part in the festivities probably a few of us understand the iconography, the mythology and the political compulsions that has made this iconic festival come to become what it is.

I want to share with you a well researched half hour film directed and produced by my dad Sorab Irani, and me as the associate director in the year 1998. It is immensely entertaining yet informative and we see that the character of Bombay has not changed really so much in regards its common citizens even if its name is now Mumbai.


Produced by SBI Impresario Pvt Ltd. in the year 1998
Directed and Produced by Sorab Irani
Associate Director Oorvazi Irani

Copyrights and all Rights Reserved SBI Impresario Pvt. Ltd.


Govind Nihalani’s response to my recent short films
I am humbled and touched by the response of the veteran filmmaker – Govind Nihalani for my films
The message was sent to my dad, Sorab Irani who is the Producer of the films.

“Your daughter(Oorvazi Irani) is a very neat storyteller and her film(“The K File”) has a surprising sting in its

    tail…very impressive !
,,, nd I loved her film on her grandmother (“Mamaiji”)…very beautiful n very
    poetic…She seems to be headed in the right direction …My very best wishes to both of you. Govind”

A Real Story of a conflict between A Super Star Actor- Rajesh Khanna and Cheten Anand a Super Star Director


A Real Story of a conflict between A Super Star Actor- Rajesh Khanna and Cheten Anand a Super Star Director

Musing of a Veteran Producer/ Director – Sorab Irani  .

So much is said about Rajesh Khanna post his sad demise in all media, I am reminded on this occasion of a interesting real life story which I would like to share.

A little known fact is that Chetan Anand’s debut film,Neecha Nagar bagged the Palme d’Ore (Best Film) award, at the first ever Cannes Film Festival in 1946.

It was my honor and privilege to have worked and observed and to have learned so much about cinema from this great truly Indian cinematic genius

Chetan Anand was the first director to cast Rajaesh Khann is his film ‘Aakhri Khat’. Latter when his career started flagging a bit, Rajesh Khanna thought he needed a great director to make a film with him and he approached Chetan Anand. I was at that time general manager of Chetan Anand’s production company – Himalaya Films. In those days films were produced largely on star-power, and if a project was initiated by a Star it was good news. However Chetan Anand was in financial trouble and in a meeting with Rajesh Khanna confessed to him that he had the right subject but no money. Chetan Anand always had ready stories in his head, he thrived on the creative process that resulted in a film idea and at any given time had a great oeuvre of film stories. In that meeting where I was also present he narrated the story of ‘Kudrat’ to Rajesh Khanna and Rajesh Khanna loved it.

In a week’s time Rajesh Khann was back at Chetan sahibs Juhu seafront shack with a producer in tow one B. S. Khanna. It was all settled in that sitting that B. S would finance and produce the film and that Chetan Anand would direct the film and so the film ‘Kudrat’ was born.

This is not the story of how ‘Kudrat’ was made, which in itself is fascinating but about the antics of stars and a conflict that developed pre release of the film between Chetan Anand and Rajesh Khanna.

The film was very hot, the music was already a super hit. It then transpired that Kakaji arranged for a private screening of the film and decided on a course of action which was unethical for sure but not entirely unheard of in the Bollywood of that time. Encouraged by his chamchas he decided that in order to hog the entire credit of the success of the film he had to reduce the roles of the others like Vinod Khanna, Raj Kumar, he high jacked the editor of the film, and started reediting the film. The editor informed Chetan Anand quietly as his conscious troubled him, he was in great awe of Chetan sahib and had worked together for over a year to shape the film.

I got a call from a very distressed Chetan sahib at 6 am in the morning asking me to go to the editor’s house and bring him over to meet Chetan sahib. I was also very amazed that any one dare tamper with the edit of a director like Chetan Anand. By 7.30 am I was at the editors house in Matunga but he was absconding. I went to the shack and Chetan was furious. Kaka would not taking his calls nor was  the producer B. S. Khanna, the conspiracy was clearly unfolding. What do we do. I went with Chetan sahib to Navarang Lab, spoke to the owner protesting but the owner claimed helplessness as he had to follow the instructions of the Producer of the project owing to the large sums of money involved. We then decided to file complaints with the Film Editor’s association and with the Film Producers association requesting this be stopped. In the night I started getting threatening calls. Some one called my wife and told her that she would find my dead body by morning. I was out and there were no cell phones at that time, so when I called home my wife was weeping and scared silly. Now I was indeed very angry and being in Juhu at the time went to B. S Khanna’s house to confront him, he was not home but I got him on the phone from there and asked him about all this nonsense about threatening calls to my wife and told him very plainly that I was not one bit intimidated and if it did not stop I would lodge a police complain. Later I spoke to Chetan sahib and he too complained that he had a similar experience of his residence getting threatening calls.

The next day the producer B. S Khanna claimed total innocence about all the goings on and said nothing was true, we demanded that we need to be allowed to examine the final cut negative and talk to the editor and informed him that no one had a right to make changes to the final cut of the film. He diplomatically said it was too late, the negative was involved in the process at the lab of making copies of the release prints.

Gloom set in at the shack, it seemed that the Rajesh Khanna camp in connivance with the producer B. S Khanna have prevailed.

In an unprecedented move Chetan Anand decided to go to the Bombay High Court to stop the release of his own film.

The case came up before the astute Parsi judge Justice Lantern. The whole film industry was there. Justice Lantern denied us the relief that we were seeking although sympathizing with our case but saying that huge sums of money would be lost of the third parties namely the distributors if he granted us the ad interim relief and posted the matter for regular hearing.

The real point of this story is not to malign anybody but to raise critical questions – who has the right to the final cut of the film, the director or the producer. Who decides what the audiences will see, financiers/producers or the creators the/directors. Added to this perennial existing conflict and tussle enter today the marketing guru’s who with sampling and consensus building marketing methods start confusing matters completely. What happens to an Auteur director if he is not also the producer of the film. Food for thought and meaningful debate.


Written on Special Invitation

Kasab is now Asab – My film featured in Bombay Times



A pleasant surprise and i would like to share it with you all and hope you have seen the film.


Invite your friends to see the film and would love to hear back from all my viewers about the film experience !

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




filmmaker, media project consultant,literary agent

August 24th 2010

Creativity was at first considered only the prerogative of God as only God could create because it was perceived that ‘to create’ meant to create from nothing some thing entirely new, the notion of something miraculous, something in the divine realm. With time this perception changed radically man was also accepted to have the divine power to create, to bring into being something absolutely new from nothing. The proof of this in true if we just look around us, today modern living is indeed miraculous.

How can one be creative. How to create not how to be innovative. No doubt one can be creatively innovative and hence innovation is also creative, but can we be God-like and create something absolutely new from nothing – yes we can.

Therefore essentially creativity is that process that is a quantum leap from the known into the unknown – the reclaiming of the unmanifest or the ability of being able to bring about a result where the unmanifest transforms itself into the manifest.

All great breakthroughs in all fields of human endeavor have this miraculous process at work. The real point of creativity is a sudden leap into the unknown from where something revolutionary and absolutely new is born. This is possible because the source of all creation is pure consciousness and each one of us in our essential state are pure consciousness. Pure consciousness is also pure potentiality; it is the field of all possibility and infinite creativity.

So each and every one of us has what it takes to create, we have the innate ability in just being conscious, alive, to be creative, it is our essential human nature.

Contemplate this, and be creative this very instant, being alive and conscious is all the tools of creativity you will ever need.

Behind the scenes: “Clap Trap” – Part 4

Behind the scenes: “Clap Trap” – Part 4

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

The observational mode of documentary film making was of documentary returning to ideals of truth. The innovation and evolution of cinematic hardware in the 1960s made this very possible. The emphasis was on mobility as, new, light equipment made possible an intimacy of observation new to documentary, and this involved sound as well as image. The move to lighter 16mm equipment and shoulder mounted cameras allowed documentarians to leave the anchored point of the tripod. Portable Nagra sync-sound systems and unidirectional microphones, too, freed the documentarian from cumbersome audio equipment. A two-person film crew could now bring real truth to the documentary milieu.

Unlike the subjective content of poetic documentary, or the rhetorical insistence of expositional documentary, observational documentaries simply observe, allowing viewers to reach whatever conclusions they may deduce. The camera, while moving with subjects and staying in the action, remains as unobtrusive as possible, mutely recording events as they happen. Pure observational documentarians proceeded under some bylaws: no music, no interviews, no scene arrangement of any kind, and no narration. The fly-on-the-wall perspective is championed, while editing processes utilize long takes and few cuts. Resultant footage appears as though the viewer is witnessing first-hand the experiences of the subject so to say.

As a producer I wanted to make a good observational style documentary. It was therefore very essential that we had a camera person and a sound recordist who were aware of this style of film-making. My choice fell on Navroze Contractor for camera and Inderjit Niyogi for sound. Navroze was a veteran world renown camera man in India and had shot umpteen documentaries for European filmmakers and had the all important sense of grabbing a slice of reality as it was happening, this is an instinctual thing and only gets developed with time and experience. So when Navroze’s eye went towards the camera eye piece Indrajit Niyogi the recordist would simply start the nagra. Indrajit and Dileep Subramanium (fondly called Subu), who latter formed a team and a company and worked together were one of the best sync sound recordists in India at the time. This was an essential combination necessary to achieve capturing ‘reality in motion’.

Owing to my other commitments at the time I realized I needed the services of a director. After much consideration I decided to get Jill Misquitta an FTII trained director to do the job. Jill was married to Cyrus Mistry an author play writer of some repute in Mumbai.

Basically it was decided that we observe the world of the extras. To bring a human interest focus to this exercise from our research we picked two interesting characters and for balance one male Masood and one female Pummi.

The story carries on in my next post.