Filmmaker Umesh Shukla, who is ready with his film “102 Not Out” shares his story of casting Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor for the lead roles, and how the song ‘Badumbaa’ came to be, in an exclusive interview with me.
“I was producing the Gujarati play ‘102 Not Out’ written and directed by Saumya Joshi, and during the rehearsal I figured out that this is a universal subject just like it was in case of ‘Oh My God!’ where God, the central character is present everywhere in everybody’s home. Similarly, I assumed the story of this father-son duo will appeal to a universal audience. The subject is very funny and entertaining, and comes with a feel good factor. That’s when I decided that this is the kind of film I should make,” said the director talking about how the idea of making ‘102 Not Out’ came to him.
When asked how the thought of casting Big B and Rishi Kapoor come to mind, he said, “I wanted Bachchan sir for the role. I thought of him as the only actor who could do justice to this character of a 102-year-old lively and active man. When I narrated the story to him, he agreed to do the film immediately. The idea of a father trying to send his son to an old age home itself got him interested, and he said, ‘I don’t want to listen to the entire narration, I’m doing it.’ When I suggested him that I would cast Chintu ji (Rishi Kapoor) as the son, he was thrilled. Since they had worked together in the past, he loved the idea, and gave me a go-ahead. Chintuji also agreed immediately, even though he will be performing a very different kind of character, and both were onboard.”
Many might wonder, having co-written the script for ‘Oh My God!’ why was Umesh Shukla not a part of the scripting process of ‘102 Not Out’? He says, “It’s not that I never suggested the idea… but the play was so brilliantly written, I was sure that Saumya will deliver the script perfectly for the film.
“He took almost a year to develop the script, because it takes quite some time to develop a scrip for a film. In a play you have to finish it within 7-8 scenes, but a film requires a lot of details,” added the director who helmed the critically and commercially acclaimed film ‘Oh My God!’ in 2012.
When asked how much time they took to shoot the film, Shukla’s promptly reply was, “We shot the entire film in 42 days. But before that we had workshops and we and invested a lot of time in detailing. This is the first time the two leads are playing Gujarati characters, so we focused on the costumes, the way Gujaratis wear shirts and t-shirts over pyjamas… Since I’m a Gujarati I know that they don’t wear chappals in the house… Everything was so detailed from the beginning that we managed to finish the shoot in 42 days.”
What’s the story behind ‘Badumbaa’? “Once when we were shooting on the terrace, and when it started raining we all rushed into a shade waiting for the rain to subside. That’s when Bachchan saab came up with the idea and mentioned how Chintuji and he had always had songs in their films like ‘Lambuji lambuji’ from ‘Coolie’, and ‘Chal mere bhai’ from ‘Naseeb’. So why not in this film? He questioned, but I said that there is no requirement of it in the movie. But then he said, ‘let me compose it.’ I got thrilled and I said ‘sure why not?’ Once we listened to the song everyone started dancing to the tune.
“He (Big B) is very passionate about music, and he suggested Rishi Kapoor to sing the song as well. Chintuji didn’t agree initially, but one day during our rehearsal he realised that he could sing! And that’s how ‘Badumbaa’ happened.”
Umesh Shukla also shared an interesting behind-the-scene moment, “We were shooting a scene where Bachchan saab was sleeping on the bed and Chintuji walks into the room and then leaves. When I said cut, Bachchan saab was still sleeping,” laughed the director. “Nobody else had the courage to wake him up, so I went towards him and said, ‘Sir the shot is over’ but he was still not moving! I repeated again a little loudly, and then got up said something very beautiful, ‘After a long time I actually fell asleep, the set of the house made me feel at home.’ It was only our 20th or 22nd day of shoot, and this moment made me very happy. Mansi Dhruv was the art director for the sets,” he added.
The story of ‘102 Not Out’ is about a very elderly man who aims to break the record for the oldest man on earth. The film starring Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor and Jimit Trivedi is set to release worldwide on May 4.