Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Celebrating 60 years : Thai Manne Vanakkam

June 26th 1997

The pre-production crew leaves Mumbai and lands at Bhuj, Gujarat to setup for the filming. Permissions from Panchayats-Government officials- local authorities, Organizing local crowd for the shoot, working out art department's logistics to setup the big flag, accommodation for a crew of more than 75 people, travel plans for Raju master's dancers from Madras... and more production headaches..


The filming begins on July 1st. With a crowd of 50 people waving in front of the camera.. Well, where are we heading... Aren't they supposed to wave their hands left to right, right to left on 'action'? why aren't people co-operating? Too many questions.. End of Day1.. not a single decent shot canned. All production heads and assistant directors get a big round of 'firing' from the bosses on 'shoot' day 1 for their incompetence.

Filming Day 2 : Better than Day 1. Cinematographer Kevin's assistant from UK was a big foodie and that's probably why he had to leave the shoot even before it started. He develops a bad stomach, illness follows after tasting "lovely spicy indian food".Off he leaves, back to UK.

Filming Day 3: Bhuj is hot, but we gotta film.. we gotta film! no way out... there is no place for crew members who complain about working under the hot sun.

After a few days, the crew is off to Jaisalmer from Bhuj for their marathon bus ride, for 20 long hours.. Tired, the crew lands at Jaisalmer. Yummy Gujarati food at the hotel. What a relief!


The directors decide to use the lovely desert as the backdrop for most of the shots. So a sunrise-sunset shoot is planned on all days. Unfortunately (for the crew) the sun rises at an unearthly 5 am and sets as late as 7.30pm.. So another couple of sleepless days.

The 'star' arrives on Day 2.. Ah!He's quite conscious in front of the camera... but at ease, later, after a couple of takes.

Raju Sundaram's dancers brave the scorching heat at 40 + degrees and dance..barefoot on the desert.


A serpentine queue of local villagers on the desert dunes waiting to be filmed. "That last guy needs to be shifted back slightly" says the director sitting in front of the monitor. "Which last guy?" the assistant director(a.d) asks. "The one on top of the dune.." Arrgh! That's a kilometer away.There she runs.. the poor a.d with her walkie talkie... on the desert ."Quick!We need to complete filming as the sun sets in the background.." (And that's a few minutes away).The A.D runs and runs.. finally the 'last guy' is shifted. A well-filmed shot with a lady holding the Indian flag in front and a long queue of people behind her.


The enthusiastic crew reaches Leh, Ladakh and wants to start filming without any delay.But at Leh, one needs to get acclimatized to the weather for at least 48 hours - i.e rest completely, before heading out.The crew does not want to waste a single minute because the equipment and crew were hired and paid on a per day basis - filming / non-filming immaterial. The crew goes out filming faces, flags, landscapes etc. But at the end of the first day's filming, a few of them end up with bleeding noses..altitude I guess. The crew did not want to stop, the rest of them resume filming and complete the schedule.

The final schedule of filming. Kathakali dancers, kids on the beach, elephants, Kerala in monsoons... a no-hassle filming but for the (slightly?) angry elephants.

July 21st 1997

A tired crew is back in Mumbai . Directors head to UK for post production... tele cine, off-line editing, on line editing, sound.....

August 9th 1997: One of the crew members [CM] of the above shoot at a hotel in Delhi .. tired after a full day filming for another project.. channel surfing at midnight, sound muted.. E-T-C Channel it says..CM sees visuals of people carrying the national flag, on a camel..."Doesn't it look familiar?" CM thinks. Reaches out to the remote to unmute... A familiar humming continues.. "Hey... its our video.. the video that I worked on.. the video that I slogged for.. for months!!.. Hurrah!!" CM is all excited.. Calls up a fellow colleagues at that unearthly hour .."Saw our video on air!!" CM screams. They are equally excited.. India's biggest music video and easily the best till date is premiered. Even after 10 years, the crew member remembers every minute of filming, every frame filmed, the secret trips [on non-shoot days] to the Jaisalmer market to buy kurtas and chappals, the big showdown with a colleague in front of a 100+ crew, communicating with a pucca Gujju crowd in broken Hindi, a scary Pak border filming at Gujarat, Rajasthani food, the crew caterers from Madras outdoor unit, caterer 'Ponnusaami', his oorugai, podi , Rasiklal paakku, Raju Master and assistants, A R Rahman, the Big National Flag, the last day of filming with a 'hip hip hurrah!'... What an experience! Vande Mataram! Happy Independence Day!

The author of this blog wishes to thank the crew member for the inputs.
PS: Is the tamizh version 'Thaai Manne Vanakkam' available online? If yes, please post the URL in the comments section. Thank you.

7 Responses:

Karthik Sriram said...

You really have taken the readers to the shoot itself. And I never thought the video shot at so many places. I just remember the Thar desert. Will mail the link for Thai Manne later.


ambi said...

wonderful post, thanks for sharing the info.
*ahem, advance wishes for getting linked in desipundit. :p

@LKS, adhu enna apromaa? carla drive poganumaa?(thaniyaa thaan, of course) :p
ippave link kudu. :)

Anonymous said...

Check this Italian ad using Gandhi !

Anonymous said...


Chez said...

Check out oosai.com for the 'Thaai Manne Vanakkam' song. Ensoy. Mesmerising, as always.

And, Independence Day Wishes, from Down Under. ;)

Anonymous said...

Jai Hind...

Castor aka Kiwilax said...

Hey, are you really from Mylapore Maada veedhi??