I think I just saw the greatest moviee ever made. No, that is not a typo. Aap Kaa Surroor – The Moviee The Real Luv Story has given me joy, rekindled my faith in Bollywood and reminded me that while spelling is sacred, it’s a distant second to fun. Plus, it’s got me out of my funk and blogging again. Hallelujah! And for this epiphany I must thank Gabriele Ammerman.
Aap kaa Suroor had a 28-day shooting schedule in Germany. Bollywood descended upon Deutscheland and hired an entire German crew of assistant directors and technicians. Ammerman hung around this bunch, following them around the country. The result is The Making of Aap kaa Surroor, a hilarious little documentary that is a must-watch whether or not you love Himesh.
Assistant director Michael Braun saw the script for the first time on the night before the first day of shooting. It was also the last time. Much like Freddie Mercury, director Prashant Chadha wanted to break free (Himesh’s role model for the concert scenes, however, was Robbie Williams, whose concert dvds were played on set for edification and inspiration). Chadha chose Germany because the he wanted “visuals that were fresh” for this story that is apparently very similar to Himesh’s real life; but for the bits that involve dead journalists, Mallika Sherawat as a Coyote-Ugly-esque lawyer and a chase through a German town complete with turtling cars and a crack team in a Hummer. Over the course of the shoot, the Germans went from being confused by the “improvisations” to being aghast and finally being overwhelmed by feelings of awe. Three Minis were harmed in the making of this movie. The German crew couldn’t believe 6 men could cheerfully lug a Jimmy Jib all across a city and work 12-hour days. It didn’t make sense that a director would ask for an entire cathedral (in Cologne) to be rented and then, on the day before shooting, say that the enormous stained glass windows let in too much light so they need to be boarded up. What kind of production rents an entire airport for a 30-second sequence and then holds up shooting because there’s one less BMW in a convoy (which will be seen for less than a second)? By the way, there’s one less car because it’s the director who got the number wrong when talking to BMW. One of the Germans had to remind herself that it wasn’t a music video she was shooting but a movie; quickly she realised that treating the movie like a series of music videos was much better for her own sanity.
With an expression of appalled despair, Braun said he had to forget everything he had learned were basics and immutable. “We forgot continuity, we forgot all the rules that you are taught never to break in film school.” Instead Braun stood on a platform in a cathedral in Cologne and waved his arms manically in order to get a crowd of 350 extras to cheer. But for his efforts he was given chai. “I’ve never been on a set where there is a guy with a little cup of tea at your elbow all the time,” said Braun. “He’s always there, until you take it or say no about ten times.” Except no one said no. They were shooting in early winter. No sane person who has spent ten minutes arranging slushy snow over bare branches says no to the little bespectacled brown chai-wallah who wears monkey cap and Arctic gear.
Ammerman’s documentary is a gem, and one that will make you want to see Aap kaa Surroor. In fast forward, it’s not a bad movie and Himesh might be among the few Bollywood stars willing to poke fun at himself (there are jokes about Himesh’s nasal voice and his cap). Plus, this is the most cosmopolitan movie ever. It operates in a world where Indian “rock star” HR has sell-out concerts in a Germany where all the white people have Australian accents. Not that you’re watching what’s happening on screen. If Ammerman’s documentary is your starting point, then you’re actually looking for all the things off-screen giggles that the Germans smothered, which is a good thing because I’m still entirely clueless about what happened at the end. It seemed like Himesh got his lady love but then inexplicably, the film finished with him singing “Mehbooba” with a shimmying Mallika Sherawat. Just to confuse things further, the credits have a animated video running alongside in which cartoon Himesh falls in love with cartoon Mallika at first sight. I suppose the trick is to not impose logic upon Aap kaa Surroor. As Braun said, “If you learn to adjust, you are free of all the rules.” Aum.