Film-maker Kundan Shah spoke to Shilpa Jamkhandikar about the 1983 film, which was digitally restored and re-released in Indian cinemas on Friday.
When we made the movie, we were bhikmangas (beggars). Making the film was of prime importance. I had applied to NFDC for a loan of 400,000 rupees, knowing that I would have to come up with the remaining money myself, but when they read the script, they said they want to produce it and sanctioned a sum of 684,000 rupees. Ultimately, the final budget was 724,000 rupees. I got a fee of 15,000 rupees for writing and directing the film.
There were so many things that went wrong with the shooting of this film. Everyday there would be some or the other obstacle. We would go to a shooting location but the light wouldn't be right. When we were shooting the climax, the light wasn't right and I would have to keep postponing the shot. The actors had much fun at my expense. Sometimes a scene wouldn't be right, or an actor would have to go home. This wasn't an easy film to shoot.
Like I said before, we didn't have much money and shooting a movie takes a lot of money. One of the main things you need while shooting a movie is electricity, but we were too poor to afford a generator, so we would borrow electricity from the nearest meter box. Our electrician was an expert at borrowing.
Once, we were shooting in Alibaug, a beach town 100 kilometres from Mumbai and the shoot was supposed to take place in a bungalow. To our delight, we found that the electricity pole was within the compound of the bungalow. Our electrician was so happy, but to our dismay, it didn't turn out as we expected. It turns out that electricity fluctuates a lot in places outside of Mumbai. In Alibaug, there was so much fluctuation that we couldn't work at all. That didn't turn out so well.
In those days, movies like this would hardly be released. Maybe a morning show or two at the Liberty cinema (in south Mumbai), but otherwise it wasn't a very good scenario. Thankfully, this movie found a commercial distributor, who agreed to release it, but he did in a way that would ensure that his investment was safe. We got morning shows in most theatres. It did better in Delhi than any other city, running for almost 37 weeks. But the cult status came later.
In those days, Doordarshan had started a new channel called DD Metro and they needed new content. They used to show this movie almost every weekend, sometimes two or three times a month. That is when it started to pick up.
I never bothered to pick up any royalty for the movie later. Kya maangna (What do I ask for?) and I had even lost a copy of the contract. In those days, it was important for us to make the film, money wasn't such a consideration.
I am so glad it is re-releasing now, but I wish there had been a bit more publicity. Do you think people will go to watch it? I hope the younger generation does. It is definitely the best film I have made so far. The relevance is as much as it was then.
(Editing by Tony Tharakan)