Goldie began reading his script. The script was written with the minutest detail in mind and proved that the script writer had a deep understanding of the filmmaking process. This was not a script written only for the writer, but also for the director.
Goldie completed his reading, but Dev Anand didn’t react at all. The moment they reached their usual place of stay, Hotel Fredrick, Dev booked a trunk call on the hotel telephone. It was to his production manager, Thakkar.
‘Thakkar, book Kardar Studios for ten days. Production number eight has been postponed for some reason. We are starting production number nine and Goldie will be directing it.’
That film was Nau Do Gyarah.
Dev, Goldie and the rest returned to Mumbai after two days, and preparations for the film began in earnest. The first item on the list was the music. Sachin Dev Burman was Navketan’s favourite music composer – it was sure he would compose the music for the film. Goldie had his own ideas about how the songs should be. Most songs in Hindi films were there only as fillers and had nothing to do with the story. Goldie made it clear to S.D. Burman about the kind of songs he wanted for the film.
‘Dada, the songs of the movie should be as if the hero and heroine are having a conversation. I don’t want songs with heavy words, or the words the heroine croons with flowers falling from a tree, or the typical situation where the hero is sing on a running horse carriage. These are very common. The songs I am looking for should be a part of the storyline, and if they are removed the story would be affected.’
Goldie believed that if the presence or absence of a song made no difference, why have them in the first place? Burman da and lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri got down to creating the songs. The tune for the song, Aajaa panchhi akela hai, was suggested by Sachin da’s wife, Meera. Majrooh wrote sunehra baadal as the second line for the song Aankhon mein kya ji.
Goldie told Majrooh, ‘Why not make it rupahala baadal instead? I am going to shoot the song in moonlight, so sunehra won’t be suitable.’
Majrooh was impressed by Goldie’s understanding and intelligence.
Dev asked Goldie before he began shooting, ‘Which scene are you shooting first?’
‘You are being childish! Don’t be stubborn. All great directors complete the film first. Discuss with people and then shoot the climax.’
‘Maybe, but I have written this climax and irrespective of its length, my climax will not change. Whether I shoot my script from the beginning or the end, nothing is going to change. I will not change a word of my script. You don’t worry.’
A few scenes with actress Lalita Pawar were to be shot on the first day. Lalita called Goldie immediately after the first shot and said, ‘This is the first time I am working with a director after V. Shantaram. There are very few directors like him.’
Goldie could not understand what Lalita meant at that time. Goldie felt that V. Shantaram made his actors over-act, but he respected Shantaram’s technical brilliance. Shantaram had carved a niche for himself in the Indian film industry, and had built his own studio. Goldie had immense respect for Shantaram, and so found her words intriguing. He belonged to the ‘natural school’ of filmmaking, but once his creativity began to be appreciated, he truly understood what she had meant.
After that Goldie went to Delhi with his unit and shot parts of the film on the Delhi-Mumbai highway. The whole unit stayed at the PWD guest-house during the shoot.
Goldie was shooting the song, Hum hain rahi pyaar ke, on the highway. When the second para of the song was being shot, there was some technical glitch and the machine stopped working. Nobody had a clue whether they would be able to set the machine right or how long it would take. But Goldie refused to cancel the shoot. He knew the words of the song by heart and he shot the rest of the song on the beat with himself singing the song.
There were no modern sound systems those days and the dialogues were said without the soundtrack. Also, there were no tape recorders or sound recorders – they had to know Dev’s dialogues in every scene for the dubbing.
After shooting about six reels of the film, some indoor scenes were shot at the Kardar Studios in Mumbai. Goldie then went to Mahabaleshwar with his unit to shoot some outdoor scenes.
Character actor Jeevan, who acted in Nau Do Gyarah, wrote a letter to Goldie on the last day of his shoot. ‘I have never seen a director like you. I will be ready to work with you anytime you want.’
Goldie’s confidence rose with the positive feedback he received from Jeevan and Lalita Pawar.
There was a lot of authenticity in the shooting and that was the specialty of this film. A girl runs away from home and meets a boy… this had rarely been seen on screen before. Goldie kept telling his production manager during the shooting that he was making a hit film. That was the kind of confidence he had.
Goldie didn’t regret the fact that he never worked as an assistant director with anyone; had he done that, he believed, he would never have been able to do what he was doing. His direction was not influenced by any director. Since he had no formal training, Goldie experimented a lot with his work. Goldie would often tell [V] Ratra where the camera should be placed.
‘But the trolley will not move there. The set is coming in the way,’ the cameraman would say.
‘I want the trolley to be there,’ Goldie would insist, and tell the art director that he wanted the camera to go through the set door.
‘But that is not possible.’ ‘Then break this door and make a new one. My trolley has to go through the door.’
Goldie was a hot-blooded young man maturing with age. The shooting was over in nine months.
The editing continued for thirteen continuous days at Famous Studios, Tardeo. The studio had been destroyed in a fire, but there was an editing room at the back that Goldie used. He even slept there, not leaving for eleven days at a stretch. It was his nature to plunge into work relentlessly.
The film not only made Goldie a director, but also taught him the art of editing. Dev had asked Dharamveer, an editor of repute, to assist Goldie in the making of Nau Do Gyarah, realizing that Goldie’s experience in direction was little. Dharamveer was a regular editor for most of Dev’s films.
Goldie, a natural learner, keenly observed how the films were edited. Luckily, Goldie’s directorial style lent itself to little editing.
Differences erupted between Dharamveer and Goldie while editing the climax. Normally, most films had the hero and the villain fighting, chasing each other in fast cars, shooting with guns etc. The film used to end with the hero winning. Goldie wanted something different to engage the viewer. He showed the villain challenging the hero by saying, ‘If you don’t do this in five minutes, I will kill the heroine.’
Goldie was reading Yoga Vasistha those days, in which time is shown as subjective. A night of sorrow is long for a woman, but passes in a blink during a honeymoon. Speed of time, hence, was subject to a man’s mental state. Goldie wanted the five minutes to look like five hours for the viewer. Each character glances at their respective wrist watches every now and then. Goldie showed the image of the watch every ten seconds.
In a novel we read of different scenes being enacted at the same time. Goldie used the same treatment for his climax. He showed what different people were experiencing in those five minutes. The scene stretched to nearly eight minutes instead of five. Dharamveer berated Goldie gently in Punjabi saying,
‘Goldie ji, aisa nahin honda. Log uth jayenge, cigarette pe chale jayenge…’ He wanted to edit the scene. Dharamveer feared that the viewer would not tolerate a long climax and would walk out. But Goldie was adamant. Dharamveer told Dev before sending the film to sound recordist, B.N. Sharma,
‘You please make him understand.’
Dev agreed with Dharamveer, deciding to talk to Goldie. But Goldie was in no mood to listen.
Even Sharma, who was well respected for his craft, agreed that the scene was a tad too long. Likewise, many others, too, were in favour of editing the scene. Goldie realized that there may be some element of truth with so many people advising against the length, but his heart was not willing to accept the suggestion. He believed in his instinct.
The sound-recordist ensured that the music changed each second to match the movement of the clock. The overall effect was good, but Goldie realized that the viewer may be looking for more. He said,
‘Let us take this version for the premier. We will see the reaction. Else, we will show the edited version in the next show.’
Goldie did not show any enthusiasm once the film was ready. In fact, he did not even attend the premiere and was in college.
He reached the theatre after the first show to find Ahmed Jaffery, the production manager of Navketan, and Parashar there. They congratulated him, ‘You are finally a director!’
The viewers had enjoyed the film, especially the climax. Goldie then travelled along with the film to various theatres, watching the viewers’ response to the climax scene. He could see people screaming, sitting on the edge of their seats. The sound of whistles told him that people loved the scene.
Goldie realized that he would not have succeeded had he listened to the editor.
A film, made on a moderate budget of just Rs 5 lakhs had become a hit.
The film paved the way for Dev’s light comedies in the future, with songs taking the story forward. Goldie had become famous with his very first movie. Chetan’s exit made it difficult for Navketan to remain successful with Dev busy with outside projects at the same time. But Goldie’s success strengthened Navketan. His talent assured Dev he was not alone.
Excerpted with permission from Goldie – The Man and His Movies, Anitaa Padhye, translated by Vikrant Pande, Amaryllis.