Sunday, July 25, 2010


Nasir Khan,the film-maker who launched Malegaons spoof industry,now brings out a desi Mr Bean

Sharmila Ganesan-Ram | TNN

If Superman were a Malegaon resident,he would wear chappals,administer polio drops to infants and save crows from the onslaught of kites before going on to defeat his sworn enemya gutkha baron.Mr Bean,on the other hand,would ride a bullock cart,park it deliberately at a petrol pump and direct the attendant towards the Lunar bike mounted at the rear of his manual vehicle.Welcome to Malegaons sense of humour or,in other words,Shaikh Nasirs imagination.

Nasir,the 35-year-old father of Malegaons notoriously wacky spoof industry,has introduced many classic Hollywood and Bollywood characters to the satellite town of Malegaon by giving them its quintessential dialogue,looks,circumstances and well,food.After having conquered local imagination with such cult spoofs as Malegaon Ke Sholay,Malegaon Ka James Bond and Malegaon Ka Superman,the impoverished filmmaker is now ready to invade national television with his version of Mr Bean titled Malegaon Ka Chintu.A mute comedy based loosely on Mr Bean,the film will go on air next month.It will be full of one-minute gags,and the protagonist will be played by another Malegaonbased film director, reveals Nasir,whose stint as a video parlour owner was instrumental in sowing the seeds of filmmaking in this frail shopkeepers head.

At this video parlour,where the young Nasir used to treat residents of the entertainment-starved satellite town to Charlie Chaplin,Jackie Chan and Rambo movies as also Bollywood flicks,he would observe consumer behaviour.These observations served as editing cues.I noticed that people would leave when a song was playing or when the dialogue was too long and boring, he says.Comedy,he discovered,had a timeless appeal.People wont watch the horror movies of the 60s as they find them tacky.But they still like to watch Charlie Chaplin, says Nasir,adding that humour makes a film evergreen.His other parttime professionthat of a wedding videographerwas also providential;it led him to discover many faces which seemed to bear a resemble to actors.This equipped him with the idea of remaking the legendary 1970s hit Sholay for his people,who had no other hangouts like gardens or beaches,only cinema halls.

I hadnt even thought of returns then;I just wanted to do it for myself, remembers Nasir,who made the film at the unbelievably modest budget of Rs 50,000 within two months.Locals were hired (chiefly Nasirs friends who worked for free),bullock carts used in place of cranes and bicycles served as both camera trolleys and Gabbar Singhs horses.

The script,jokes,dialogues and even incorrigible lyrics like Yeh dosti doke ka taan hai,len den kuch nahin,mushkil mein jaan hai were all Nasirs.Once released,the film fetched the budding director Rs 2 lakh and a cult following.The money helped him upgrade to a helicopter in his next venture,Malegaon Ki Shaan and later,when he discovered chroma,he found the courage to import Superman.

Many people from Japan and Singapore,who were intrigued by my ways,came down and watched the making of this film, says Nasir,about the Rs 1-lakh film whose making was punctuated by such incidents as the camera falling into the river and Superman being able to fly in the film only when he was rolled along on a plank of wood placed atop a bicycle.The documentary,called Supermen Of Malegaon,which records the making of this film,has clinched awards at film festivals in Los Angeles, Prague,Pakistan and Italy.When the feature film Malegaon Ka Superman was shown at a festival in Goa,international buyers jostled to snap up the rights.In Delhi,a roomful of 2,000 school students demanded that the show be repeated at least four times,says Nasir,who recalls British film-maker Paul Martin being astonished by his low-budget film-making exercise.

At the Osian film festival six months ago,Rishi Kapoor came up to me and congratulated me.Even Anurag Kashyap said he was a fan, recalls Nasir,who is not easily floored by flattery.It only makes me want to compete with myself, says the man whos made 11 films so far and confesses that the journey has been very enjoyable.
Of course,there have been challenges.Sometimes,the so-called actors could not say their lines and demanded numerous retakes.As most of them were daily wage labourersbook binders,printers and loom workersthey would often miss shoots to attend the call of duty which actually pays.And punctuality remained a dream.If you call them at 7 am,they turn up at 11 am, says Nasir.But the reactions of the audiences in the theatrewho would come chiefly to spot relatives on the big screenmade,and makes,it all worth it.

People often seek him out for autographs at film festivals,but at home,Nasir says,he enjoys no such limelight.There,he is still an impoverished video parlour-owning son.Ghar ki murgi daal barabar, laughs this incorrigible superman of Malegaon.

The Times of India, July 25, 2010