A synopsis and a book cover can only say so much about the book. It's only after a person has read it, can he/she get 'a feel' of it.
By 'feel', I mean flavour. 'Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai' is a story about love, heartbreak, adventure, and courage, set in a magnificently complex city Mumbai that has as many hues and moods as the colourful characters that headline in the book. I thought - what better way to give people an insight into the book than visually?!
So I decided to shoot a promo. Having written and directed in the film and television industry and worked as a Promo Producer, apart from being the author of the book, I felt that I had no excuse not to create one myself. So I stepped on the local train, armed with my iPhone HD camera in the direction of Bandra Station (where 'Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai' is set). I felt that a Sony HD handicam could attract attention and might prove cumbersome while shooting inside a train.
It was Eid in Mumbai, a bank holiday, so the station and trains were less crowded as compared to a normal working day. This worked to my advantage as I was able to take my shots without being pushed by the hustle-bustle characteristic of the busy Bandra Station.
I captured my shots inside the train, on the platform, the footbridge, and all over the busy Bandra Station Road. Next I went to other places around Bandra Station, to capture the spirit of the people operating out of shops in and around the area. But the main shot I needed was a clear static shot of the railway tracks, highlighting its mystery and endlessness.
Given safety concerns, going into the middle of the railway tracks (as Babloo has done in the book) wouldn't be a wise decision so I didn't even entertain that thought as it crossed my mind. And for some reason, I wanted the shot to be only of the Bandra Railway Tracks (as opposed to any other Station) since those particular tracks are a main character in 'Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai.'
I walked along the entire length of the Bandra Station road, following the railway tracks and found my opening close to the Gaiety-Galaxy Multiplex. 'Ek Tha Tiger' was playing on one of the screens, so the place was packed with people. Amongst angry cars and anxious people, I pushed myself through the human obstacles till I found my way to the clearing. Since I have a long arm, I didn't have to lean over the rusted metal fence dangerously and was able to obliterate peering faces that were trying to get into the picture. And soon enough, I got my shot.
A day before, I spoke to music directors Sangeet and Siddharth Haldipur and asked them for a track for this promo. To give you a brief insight into the background of this talented duo, Sangeet and Siddharth were initiated into music at a very young age. So you could say that music is in their blood. They each play a couple of instruments and are trained and talented vocalists, having done playback singing for various ad films and feature films, among others. They are also recognized as successful Indi-Pop singers. Siddharth is a member of the popular group 'Band of Boys' while Sangeet is a part of the adored Pop foursome 'Aasma' having been selected by a nation-wide talent hunt on Channel V. As music director duo for the big screen, they go by the name of Sangeet & Siddharth having many successful films under their belt, the most recent being 'Murder 2.'
They heard my brief once and asked for a few hours. When they got back to me and made me listen to what they had designed, I was completely blown away! They hadn't even read the book yet, but yet got the essential flavour of the book. Now that's what I call talent!