SP could intimidate me more than the average producer: Pooja Bhatt
What exactly happened at the Bad shoot?
SP Hariprasad Sharma disrupted my shoot by screeching abuses, slapping and punching my gaffer, a light boy and camera attendant, illegally detaining my co-producer Vikram Khakhar and then abusing me to my face and threatening to arrest me.
What made the SP react the way he did?
He claims he ‘lost his cool’ because someone from my unit asked him to wait for five minutes while a shot was being canned. He kept screeching, ‘You don’t have permission to shoot in the SP’s office’. Truth is, we were filming on a stairway that leads to his and others’ offices. But this was not the only access point to the SP’s office.
Unit hands got hurt, co-producer manhandled. Was Randeep threatened, too?
They threatened to arrest director Prawaal Raman, then rushed towards Randeep and grabbed his hands. I rushed to them and insisted that they let Randeep go.
Why was the shoot disrupted again? Were all permissions in place?
The permissions were in place and on paper. It was nothing more than an archaic, power-drunk mindset at play. The SP’s ego was hurt that we were filming there without having to posture in front of him for permission and that the collector had sanctioned all permissions without a hitch. I am told by locals that he attempted to do the same when Sanjay Leela Bhansali was filming in Udaipur a few months ago. He seems to be extremely sexist and thought he could intimidate me more than the average producer because I was a woman.
Is there some kind of an election fever on in Udaipur?
Yes. I urge other filmmakers to reconsider their schedules here unless they have the capacity to stand their ground and take on the system or if they are shooting only within the confines of luxury hotels and privately owned property. There is also a complete disconnect between the people’s attitude and the attitude displayed by certain powers that rule. Sections of local media are serving as lapdogs instead of watchdogs and indulge in a constant stream of biased reportage.
Who do you think has motivated the disruptions?
A desperate need in the people who agitated to get their names and faces in the papers and a clamour for power. I have been made a pawn in this tussle between warring officials and political parties. Tragic, given the fact that I not only promote tourism by setting my film in Udaipur, but also fuel the economy and generate jobs for a fairly large number in local talent. One can’t look away from the fact that the film industry is considered to be a soft target by politically motivated groups for long.