Lage Raho

As the last shot of the film ran through the sound studio projector, the three minute flute piece for the yet to be done end titles, had already begun. The re-recordist’s fingers were alert, ready on the faders and my sound designer gave a smiley sigh of relief. The mixing of my children’s film was almost over.

The end beep runs off rapidly and we were immersed in the sublime flute piece that played on black frames. And then… the bolt from the ‘blue’!

Suddenly, a few frames of a man clothed just in a pant making love to a semi clothed female is beamed on the screen – like you know, of the blue film kind!

That was when I realized that the second-hand beta tape that I had used to dump the final ‘mixing copy’ of my film was, once upon a time, actually used in the making of a blue film. The re-recordist grinned, switched off the visuals and commented, ‘Suddenly, your film seems to have been transported to a different level’.  

The tape had come from a supplier who is based in the MHADA area near the Versova telephone exchange in Mumbai. This area mainly consists of government constructed low income group houses whose ownership is mainly attained through a system of lottery.  

Over the years these houses, through a series of leases and sub leases, have changed hands and the area has been a hub of the media and film industry. You name it and its all there on the lanes and by lanes of MHADA – film edit set ups, acting schools, dancing schools, film production offices, preview theaters, DVD duplicators, casting agents, junior artist suppliers, men who supply you with bits and pieces of film raw stock, cheap telecini facilities etc., etc…  

‘The tape must have be used at least for four-five times’, opined a ‘technician’ who is associated with one of the many edit set ups in MADHA, the one in which I had somehow landed up editing my film. We had gone to a nearby preview theater to check a few feet of our main titles.  

The projectionist was taking his time and our all knowing ‘technician’ sheepishly informs us that our print is being checked, lest it contained any blue film material. There apparently is a well entrenched underground ‘blue film’ industry in MHADA.   

Such films, we were told are budgeted for around two to two and a half lakhs of rupees and normally have a duration of forty five minutes. They are shot within two days. There is no direction involved, smiled our ‘technician’. The camera is switched on and actors are asked to ‘lage raho’ (carry on).  

These films are processed, edited and mixed in the next three-four days. If this is delayed, the market logistics do not work out. The films are sold for around three lakhs, the main market being the Delhi circuit. Besides, apparently the films are also shown in C and D centers, both independently and as insertions in the main films.  

Just when I was getting some real juicy inside information, some noise emitted from the projection room. The projectionist was setting up the projector; he had checked the film and was convinced that it was not ‘blue’ in colour.  

The light went off, my film titles rolled on. It seemed okay. We paid the theater charges and walked out with the film.  

A few days later I requested my ‘technician’ to erase those ‘blue frames’ from the god-knows-how-many-hands-old beta tape.  

After all, I had to submit it to my producers…. and mind it, mine was a children’s film.

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  1. Ram

    Reminds me of the LIDO cinema days…..In the late 80’s….Lido Cinema (opposite SNDT girls college in Juhu) would screen European films with ‘bits’ of Scandinavian porno inserted in the projection room itself. Some of the films one saw there were Julia and Julia, The bee keeper, and Z.

    I recently downloaded and saw one of these 45 minute ‘MAHADA telephone exchange’ masterpiece. It was called HAPPY LANDING or something to that effect. Shot most prolly in a MAHADA flat / row house, it did have a story, plot, characterization, plot twist, mistaken identity, comic releif, continuity…and one of the funniest…I repeat…funniest male porn actor I have ever come across. The film was in Mumbaiyya Hindi, XXX rated…..but the actors (one male and two women) had western names… Captain Sam….Miss Dolly….

  2. There also used to be Nandi theater in in front of Bandra station that was notorious for its insertions. Wonder if the theater still exists…

    Cubbu, back in Udupi, there was a theater managed / owned by a religious institution. One day i was pleasently surprised to see that they were screening an old B& W Telugu film starring superstar NTR in the morning slot. Telugu films, that too old ones, are a rarity in Udupi. I thought I’ll catch up with some of NTR’s histrionics. The first one third of the film went off fine. Then the character NTR plays gets married, comes into the bed room, sees his coy wife, smiles, says some heavy duty dialogue and closes the door. Then suddenly CUT TO – you know what. They did not even spare NTR!

    It was rourmered that the head of the religious institution used to arrange special screenings for himself, of such films / insertions, before the morning show.

  3. Ram: Inserting ‘blue film’ clips into regular European films was a common practice in some Kolkata cinema halls like Lighthouse and Tiger during the ’80s too … I remember seeing such mutilated versions of films like Alphaville, The Lacemaker and the ones mentioned by Cubbu… I guess now I know the origin of such clips… The NTR story is hilarious …

  4. Bookback – Once your print is out there, you never know what misfortune would befall on it – scratches, film getting torn, perforations getting torn – and then the insertions…

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