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several scenes in the film. The decision to shoot in an actual slaughterhouse – a scene that will serve as an introduction to the character of Sultan – is in this spirit of creating the right environment. ‘There was this twelve-year-old boy there who was slaughtering buffaloes with such efficiency and he was so enthusiastic about being in a shot. He said, “Sir, I will cut the buffalo on my own!” That little boy was the scariest person there, a twelve-year-old who has no sense of fear and who can cut down a buffalo became, for me, a person to fear. That violence in him formed the back story of Sultan which was narrated in the voiceover that Sultan “baarah saal ke umar mein poora bhaisa akela hi kaat deta hai. Abhi din mein saath bhaisa kaat-ta hai.” There was this man who was the main guy, very proudly telling me that he cuts sixty buffaloes a day and he showed me how he did it. Everybody listened to him. So that whole sense of hierarchy in a slaughterhouse came from those two – a boy who was the only boy working there, for children are usually not allowed, and this man whom everybody feared. For me Sultan became that butcher who everybody fears,’ says Kashyap. Shooting the scene in the slaughterhouse is an experience that has the cast and crew shuddering. For one, the actors who need to be in the scene are pure vegetarians except for Pankaj who plays Sultan. Tripathi is in the thick of it, literally. ‘I thought there would be some four-five buffaloes being cut. And where I stepped in, there was blood everywhere. The buffaloes were being cut during that time and it was all manual. They would tie the rope, draw the buffalo up. And we had to act in that. We were up to our knees in blood. We didn’t know what we were stepping on. To shoot that one scene inside we were there for two hours – there was our DOP and two other actors besides myself.’ Anurag could only manage to shoot bits and pieces of the intended scene here. ‘While we were shooting, the butchers cut sixty buffaloes and one camel. I couldn’t walk in (to the slaughterhouse). I went in with my eyes closed then checked the shot. Sirf actor ke face pe concentrate kiya , then I walked out and stationed myself on the roof next door,’ says Anurag. Outside the slaughterhouse, a huge hostile mob grows to nearly 3000. The team has landed in Allahabad with required permissions and police protection. ‘But what we
didn’t realize was that we were in the middle of a predominantly Muslim area. It is a sensitive area. We were just three ADs to manage the crowd. As we pushed the crowd back, there were teenagers who began threatening to pull out their knives,’ says Anubhuti. For Kashyap, shooting at real locations also means capturing ‘aspects of things previously unseen, something the audience hasn’t seen before, something I have not seen before but that exists. Like the fire that still burns in Jharia mines. I wanted to know how it happened and I shot the whole thing with the voiceover.’ Though the Jharia shots are not used as they don’t work well with the story, there are other sequences that come out of this approach. ‘I wanted to see the sand mining, maine kaha jo bhi yahan pe criminal activity ho raha hai, sab shoot karo. We shot it like a news video. Then we tried to bring as much as we could in the film. This is how I usually make films. I go into a world and then shut out everything else and try and explore that world within.’ This is how booth capturing turns into a massive scene in Part 2. Anurag wants to show exactly how a booth is captured during elections in India. It is not as if the booth capturing is integral to the film but these little details are important to him. As he says, ‘We keep hearing about such incidents that are common during elections in smaller cities. Because we don’t see these, we usually use our imagination. So I wanted to show how it happens. For me the whole process of how they rig elections was important,’ says Kashyap. Neeraj is given the job of finding out how it is done. Till the eve of the shoot, the team is clueless about what needs to be done. Neeraj digs around for information and gets a lot of it online, including a blog by an IAS officer who writes of his experiences in Bihar. Information also comes from Zeishan who has seen it happening. A sixty-page document is handed over to Anurag who writes the scene which has the action happening in four booths. ‘Art Director Wasiq was quite pissed about how late he got the info,’ laughs Neeraj. Besides this, the camera crew positions need to be worked out and permissions taken but the team manages to pull it off. Similarly, the hand-made gun sequence in Part 1 is shot after interviewing an actual blacksmith. The team has benefited from research for Anurag’s film on Bihar which is the inspiration for the sequence. Anurag interviews the blacksmith in detail on the process of
making the gun. The same details are used in dialogues between Manoj Bajpai and the blacksmith. Then they get another blacksmith to make the gun. The scene in the film requires the characters to take handles from actual trucks which would be used to make guns. Anurag recalls, ‘We shot the whole process of it, took every separate shot. We had to find trucks, take their handles out – and then we cut it together. So the whole approach to the film always has been that you know the entire process, shoot it and take editing calls later on. Shoot everything, shoot every atmosphere.’ This is also why Anurag decides he wants to show how sand is stolen. The job is handed over to the second unit. The second unit team has already shot small-time crime earlier near the open-cast mines, where they had gone to take wide shots of the coal mine. ‘There was this mountain of coal in the outer cast mine, from where they were sneaking off coal and selling it on the road in small heaps. They were just poor people who were engaged in small thefts. I realized that here one can either find very, very rich people or very poor. There is no class in between,’ says Shlok. Armed with a film and a digital camera, the crew reaches the location their local guy has directed them to. ‘What happens is that the approved contractor is told to get manual labourers and pick up sand with their help in a day. What he does is he uses machines, which is illegal. Manually about three-four small tempos can be filled but with the machines they can fill up eighty trucks,’ recalls Shlok. The team gets the shots needed and Shlok is packing up his cameras when he finds his team surrounded by a hostile crowd. ‘We were so much in their area of control that if they killed us, no soul would know,’ he says. Surrounded by men with guns, it takes some quick thinking and fast talking to get the crew out with the film intact. Trouble becomes the middle name for the second unit team. Often sent to shoot at locations without required permissions, they would end up in the local jail. Shlok would call up Anubhuti and say, ‘Yaar, main jail mein band hoon.’ ‘First time we got really worried, second time we were laughing and our line producer would get upset because he had to go and talk to the police and beg them to leave the crew,’ says Anubhuti. She can hardly stifle her laughter as she recalls the incidents. It helps that the line producer is a very influential person from the area but even he has his limitations. ‘And he was really upset with the second unit. He didn’t want to see their faces.’