The iconic superhero movie, Mr India, ended 35 on May 25. Directed by Shekhar Kapur, the Anil Kapoor-Sridevi-Amrish Puri star is known for several reasons. All the actors stood out, including Satish Kaushik. As Calendar, he was funny and lovable and is now one of the best roles of his illustrious career. Interestingly, he was also the film’s associate director.
35 Years of Mr India EXCLUSIVE: On those days Associate Directors were getting Rs. 10,000-15,000 per month maximum. Boney Kapoor, however, offered me Rs. 1 lakh per month! Satish Kaushik
On the occasion of Mr. Indias 35th birthday, bollywood hungama spoke to Satish Kaushik in an exclusive interview and revealed some unknown trivia about the film.
Did you join Mr India first as an actor and then as an associate director or was it the other way around?
I was first associate director. Shekhar Kapur and I were in the business of making commercials then. I felt that I wouldn’t have the chance to help Mr India. Shekhar had told me to take care of the publicity department while he made the film. We were also planning at the time to produce a film. Boney Kapoor, the film’s producer, and Javed Akhtar saab, the screenwriter, however insisted that I join the unit as an associate director. I remember they both came to my little house in Santacruz East and told me the whole script for the movie and persuaded me to come on board. Something like this must have happened for the first time! Boney offered me a very good salary as associate director. They wanted to have me as they loved me. They knew me and Shekhar had a great camaraderie and also because I was a National School of Drama (NSD) passed out.
How many have you been offered to become associate director?
When I read the script, I realized that I had to be part of this great movie that is about to be made. Boney asked me Kitna paisa chahiye tujhe per month. At that time, I was offered Rs. 1 lakh per month to be an associate manager (smile)! It was a time when one got Rs. 10,000 rupees. 15,000 per month maximum for the position of associate director!
However, more than the money, it was the script that drew me to the film. The idea of an invisible man in some kind of patriotic film, the structure of comics, the entertainment quotient, etc. made me say yes to the project.
I also participated in writing the screenplay with Javed saab. The script was written at different places like Khandala, Windsor Bangalore Hotel, etc. If you see, my name appears first in the credits after the title of the film. Boney promised the hell would give me individual on-screen billing and he kept his word.
How were you chosen for the role of Calendar?
I was also a frustrated actor at the time. I didn’t get roles. I had established excellent relations with Javed saab. When the role of Calendar was being developed, the do-teen actors ke naam in connection ke dimaag mein aaye le. Maine woh naam uda hi diye! I then asked Javed saab, why didn’t you choose me? (Laughs). The idea of the character being called Calendar was also born at this point. We decided to make it a little girly and gave it suspenders and a cap to wear.
The name Calendar was invented thanks to an anecdote that my father told me, that Rajasthan mein kisi Trader ka takiya kalam Calendar it is. He used to mention Calendar in every sentence. Javed saab suggested that we should name the character Calendar. He also proposed that the parents of Calendars name him such that they want an English name.
My first hit was when me and Anil Kapoor went to the Harish Patels ration store. The moment I said Khaana pakane se pehle kankar mein se chawal chunne hai, the whole unit burst out laughing. That’s how I became an actor on film. Little did I know that Calendar would become an iconic character, just like most Mr India characters.
How was the overall experience working on the film?
I’m happy to have been part of Mr India because it gave me a lot of know-how about cinema. I learned so much from how Shekhar made the film. He was like a school for me. While writing the screenplay, I learned from Javed Akhtar and while managing the production, I learned from Boney Kapoor.
Credit goes to the whole team. It’s been 35 years and still, we talk about it and remain as emblematic as before. People who have grown up now fondly remember the film. Those who were born later, when they see the film now on satellite or digital, they are amazed.
When my 10 year old daughter, Vanshika, saw Mr India, she loved it and said to me, Dad, what a beautiful film! It’s like a comic book that you can open from anywhere and read it while having fun. He also had an emotional angle and Mr India promoted the idea of being proud of one’s country.
Ahmed Khan was one of the child actors in the film and he mentioned that while Shekhar Kapur and Boney Kapoor were relaxed, you were a leader on the sets!
Yes because yeh bachchon ko hilt karna mushkil hota tha na yaar. I used to run after them all the time. They used to tease me because sometimes I used to be in my costume. They would shout Calendar, to eat to take the frustration out of my severity (laughs)!
We had erected children’s rooms, classrooms, playrooms, etc. behind the scenes. Teachers have been hired by Boney to teach them so they don’t waste their time when not required on set. So it was very well planned.
The whole team Boney Kapoor, Shekhar Kapur, Anil Kapoor, Sridevi, Javed Akhtar, DOP Baba Azmi, production designer Bijon Das Gupta etc contributed very well. Veeru Devgan played a big role in all the special effects created in the film. Our special effects cameraman Peter Pererirawhat camera means effect kart the. We didn’t have the technical skills to take these shots. Today, it is easy to make a person invisible thanks to visual effects. Then it was a challenge. Still, people remember the film with great fondness, and that’s heartening.
Is it true that Anupam Kher was also offered the role of Mogambo?
Yes, he was offered the role but everyone felt that Amrish Puri would be a better choice. Although Anupam did his screen test very well, the creators felt that Amrish Puri would suit the role of a menacing person who poses a threat to the nation.
Mr. India took 320 days to be shot. Why was that?
Yes, because it was difficult to shoot. Unn dino hum movie aaram aaram se banate the. We couldn’t hurry. Boney had it structured in a certain way because he wanted it to be the best film of Anil Kapoor’s career, and it happened. Anil will also be remembered for Mr India still.
‘Kaate Nahin Kat Te‘ is one of the most sensual songs of all time. It’s amazing to imagine that Sridevi had a high fever at that time
Yes she did. Look at her professionalism and dedication that despite her condition, she shot for the song in the rain. We had set up a set at Filmistan studios and the song was supposed to be shot at that time. Moreover, it was the first film that Sridevi dubbed by herself in Hindi. Before Mr Indiasomeone else was doubling for her.
We miss her on this special day because she was an integral part of the film. She was so spontaneous and so good in her heart.
I read that due to crazy demand several exhibitors were forced to release Mr India 2 days before the release on Wednesday 23rd May
I don’t remember exactly. But yeh un dinon mein hota tha. When the buzz for the film is very high, some centers would be forced to release the film on Wednesday or Thursday. In centers like Raipur, there were shows at 6 am. These were the places where the workers worked at night. Toh kaam se nikal ke woh log theater mein ghus jaate le (smile). Toh jis picture ka subah 6 baje ka show full ho gaya, woh picture hit ho jaati thi!
It was another era. Then the reviews were published on Mondays. Aaj ke jaisa nahi tha ki pehla show host hi katai-chatai shuru ho jaati hai movie ki! It was then a united family of producers, directors, exhibitors, critics, journalists etc. Everyone cared about each other. Today, the company has become quite ruthless. It’s good actually, we have to adapt to the changing times.
Read also :Satish Kaushik slams Go First Airlines for stealing passengers; the airline responds
More Pages: Mr India Box Office Collection
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