Friday, March 02, 2001
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 By: S Ramachandran

March 2, 2001

Amitabh Bachchan's career is back on the rails. Yup! If you had witnessed the shoot of Gaurang Doshi's All the Best at Mahalaxmi Railway Station, you would have agreed. Half of Mumbai's commuters saw Bachchan and waved out to him as their trains passed by the station. Bachchan was on Platform No 1. He waved back gently to them. The crowds went ecstatic.

"Sahi jawab, lock kar do," yelled Smart Alecs in a moment of enthusiasm when they saw Bachchan. There were others who just waited to catch a glimpse of the star, braving the lathis of the 100 hard-pressed cops on duty. The crowd easily outnumbered the cops, but they were controlled well by the cops who could not help use the stick to handle them.

The film is directed by Vipul Shah and written by Aatish Kapadia, the same duo responsible for the original Gujarati play Andhalo Pato (Blind Man's Buff) on which the film is based. The film stars Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Arjun Rampal, Sushmita Sen and Paresh Rawal.

Bachchan was enacting a scene with fellow actor Rawal. While Bachchan plays a sacked bank manager seeking revenge, Rawal plays a blind train singer who is deemed to assist him in a daring bank robbery.

"I am short tempered and when I see one of the bank staff cheating a  customer, I cross limits and get physical. So I am sacked. I want to get even with the bank. So I make a plan and get some people do the job for me. Paresh Rawal is one such man. So I come to the railway station for it."

What was Bachchan's reaction to shoot in a crowded station? "Just like every other scene," he smiles.

Bachchan's track record on local trains started with Saat Hindustani. "I used to travel by local trains before. But that was the first time I shot in the train. Later I shot for Shakti. And now this is the third time I am doing so," says Bachchan.

For Rawal too, this is a novel experience. "I shave shot in crowded places before. But this is fun. It is closer to reality. I do not have to work hard in such scenes," says the versatile actor.

When Aatish Kapadia was adapting his nine-year-old debut theatre script into a filmic one, he knew well that Bachchan whom he had in mind for the said role had to shoot in a station. "In the play there was a reference, but we knew that we had to shoot it here."

The shoot that was to begin at 9 am was delayed due to the non-arrival of the raw stock needed to shoot the film. Later the moving train pulled down a cloth reflector. But soon after Bachchan arrived cinematographer Ashok Mehta and Vipul Shah took charge and all the shots were canned on the first take!

Gaurang Doshi and Vipul Shah explain: "We have Bachchan coming and noticing Paresh in this scene. We have arranged for 300 junior artistes. It is a fun shoot. We have canned 45 per cent of the movie now. The songs will be shot in South Africa and the film will release by December."

Trivia: The last film to be shot at Mahalaxmi station was The Burning Train though Ram Gopal Varma did use the bridge for Satya.

Lesson learnt: Amitabh Bachchan is no longer a superstar. He is a mega-superstar.

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