Wednesday, August 4, 2010
By Rinky Kumar
Shaikh Nassir has pioneered the trend of directing popular remakes like Malegaon Ke Sholay and Malegaon Ka Superman with limited resources
Text: Set in the narrow bylanes of Malegaon, popularly known as the power-loom town of Maharashtra, Shaikh Nassir's video parlour was a one-stop entertainment shop for film lovers ten years ago. Stocked with black and white classics, Hollywood and Bollywood blockbusters, Nassir's parlour offered a wide range of options to the locals for over two decades to entertain themselves at the end of long hard day.
Though his shop did brisk business, Nassir always nurtured a desire to provide a different kind of entertainment to the locals. The movie-buff, who had acted in several school dramas and watched Chitrahaar, the weekly show on popular Bollywood songs on Doordarshan religiously during his childhood, says, “I loved watching movies of Jackie Chan, Charlie Chaplin and James Bond and always felt that I should make films to entertain everyone.” He gradually learnt video shooting and started his career by capturing local weddings on a video camera.
Bur rather than making an original film, Nassir decided to make remakes of popular movies. “I would have loved to make a brand new film, but it would have been too expensive. So I thought of directing remakes and make the best use of the limited resources available.”
In 2000, Nassir decided to make his first film as a remake of the evergreen blockbuster Sholay, one of his personal favourites. “Two of my friends resembled Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra and I didn't have to try too hard to scout for the locations,” he says. So he took a loan of Rs 50,00 from his brother, roped in his friends and used daily equipments to make the film. “We had limited resources and a tight budget so we had to use the available equipments. After much brain storming, I decided that we could use a bullock cart as a crane and a trolley as a cycle and used a video camera to shoot the film in Malegaon. I also roped in my friends Akram Khan and Hameed Subani to write the film's script.”
The duo tried to stay as close to the original script as possible and only incorporated few changes to make the film set in the local milieu and make it funny. So Gabbar Singh became Rubber Singh and Basanti was called Basmati. While in the original, Gabbar Singh's men raid the villager's homes and rob them of their money and jewellery, in the remake, Rubber Singh's men board a local bus and rob the natives of daily amenities.
Shot within a span of two months, Nassir eventually made VHS tapes of the film and then sold them in his parlour. The film was a resounding success among the locals and the debutant director managed to make a profit of Rs two lakhs.
Inspired by this success, Nassir decided to make more such films. His second venture was called Malegaon ki Shaan, a remake of director Ramesh Sippy's superhit Shaan and was shot with a Panasonic digital TV camera. “Malegaon Ki Shaan was a parody of the original. We had better resources for this movie so in terms of picture quality and cinematography, it was much better than my first film,” says Nassir. Once again, they used local amenities to add a certain finesse to the movie. In the original, Shakaal (played by Kulbhushan Kharbanda) has a revolving chair. In the remake, the villain had a similar chair which was placed on a bullock cart's wheel that was manually spinned by the crew during the shoot. Like its predecessor, Malegaon ki Shaan, too proved to be a success amongst the locals.
But Nassir shot in the limelight after filmmaker Faiza Ahmed Khan and her team shot a documentary, The Making of Malegaon Ka Superman, on his forthcoming movie Malegaon ka Superman. Shot in 2009, the film is a spoof on DC comic's famous superhero and will be released in the power loom town this year during Eid. It's based on a shy boy who suddenly gets superhero powers. Shot within a month on a budget of Rs one lakh, it stars Akram Khan, who is a far cry from the conventional Superman. He's a thin, short man who dons Superman's light blue outfit with M for a new emblem (denoting Malegaon) and wears boxer shorts with long draw strings (nada) deliberately left hanging. Khan dances in the fields, saves his love interest from goons and can't fly too high as he's malnourished. “We made Akram slide on a log of wood that juts out of a cart and asked the crew members to wave out his red cape from behind. The cart moves forward taking Akram along and creates an impression that he's flying,” explains Nassir.
The documentary was screened at the Osian Film festival last year and generated a lot of interest about Nassir's film. “Malegaon ka Superman has travelled to several film festivals including Doha International Film Festival and has also been screened at the 40th International Film Festival (IFFI) at Goa,” says the director excitedly.
Nassir's success story has prompted other movie-buffs to try their hand at directing similar films. He has given creative inputs for other movies like Malegoan Ke Karan Arjun, Malegaon Ki Lagaan and Malegaon Ka Don, which have also been loved by the natives of the power-loom town.
Thanks to his works, Nassir is now directing SAB TV's latest silent comedy Malegaon Ka Chintu. Inspired by popular British comedy series Mr Bean, the show is about a simple native of Malegaon and the hilarious incidents in his life. As of now, Nassir is focussing all his energies on his debut television serial. Quiz him, if he's keen on making any more films and Nassir says, “Right now, I'm concentrating only on Malegaon Ka Chintu and films have taken a a backseat. I just hope the show is liked by everyone.”
Screen, July 4, 2010