Expect the unexpected

When I first came to Mumbai from Hyderabad, I couldn’t get over a train ride past the Dharavi slums. It looked like one single roof. I wondered how people live there. How do they enter or exit? Two-year-old children were crawling just about three feet away from the railway tracks.

Such things made me understand the nature of the city. The general atmosphere of Mumbai has fascinated me while travelling around doing various shoots. The unexpected is expected here.
A friend of mine, not from the film industry, who lives in Oshiwara on a sykscraper’s 14th floor, told me about an instance. A guy lived in a flat above him. My friend used to bump into this guy in the elevator once in a while. And they would exchange pleasantries. Then one day my friend’s wife told him that this guy had been arrested since he was absconding in a murder case in Karnataka. My friend said, “The thing about Mumbai is that you may live for ten years as neighbours with someone and still have no idea who he is.”
Then one day I met Ajit Devani, ex-secretary of Mandakini. He told me about this experience of his. He met a gangster whose brother was killed by the police. And the gangster was abusing his brother’s dead body for not listening to his advice which had resulted in his death. That startled me. I have never heard of a person abusing a dead body. Then I thought a gangster lives on power. By getting himself killed, the brother had taken away the gangster’s sense of power. His grief came out as anger.
We are social beings. We say, “Good morning”, “Hello, how are you?” We behave in a civilised manner. But an anti-social element lives by his own rules. He does not abide by social rules and systems. There’s a certain wildness about the way he sits on a chair, the way he laughs and in his general behaviour. Like there is a difference in the look between a domesticated and a wild cat. The eyes just give it away.
And when I went to a beer bar in Borivli to check it for a location, I met a guy who was supposedly an ex-gangster. He made me feel very uneasy with his attitude.
Later, when I met him while shooting in that area, he was very friendly, a different person altogether. I realised that earlier, he was playing up to the image which he thought I expected. Many celebrities try to fit into an image too. If an actor believes that someone thinks very highly of him or her, the body language changes. They pretend. That is what the gangster was doing.
The people I have met are the role models for my films. Whenever I make an underworld film, I am asked if it’s a sequel, a trilogy or something like that. But a trilogy sounds as if I am winding up my takes on the underworld. Like it or not, my intention is to make a hundredology of gangster films.

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