It was afternoon, in the middle of hectic shooting for the Hindi movie “Teen Sau” , that I caught up with director Anil Sharma and Sunny Deol. Resting underneath two mammoth umbrellas and with a Patiala peg in their hands, the atmosphere was most relaxed, once you overlooked the trickle of blood flowing down Sunny Deol’s upper brow and the fragments of human bone and flesh that seemed to cover his knuckles.
” So Mr. Anil Sharma, how did “Teen Sau” come about?” I asked.
Sunny Deol smiled and interrupted.
“Let me tell you. This was just after the release of my movie ‘Big Brother’ where I played a violent man called Gandhi who buried people in the sand with just one blow. Having vanquished all villains, I was looking for creative new ideas when I chanced upon this “changa” film: ‘300’ “.
Anil Sharma smiled impishly.
“But you did not like it straight away did you Sunny?”
“Of course not. How could I? It seemed to be inspired by our movie ‘Gadar’. This hero, who was playing what’s his name, King Lion Dass or waise kuch, was totally copying my acting style, the ceaseless bellowing of “This is SPARTA” and the snarling and growling dialogue delivery in the battle of Kitply reminded me so much of ‘Gadar’ where my manly screams made the Pakistani army piss in their trousers, that I thought to myself more than once ‘Is this actor my twin brother’?
As a matter of fact, I was expecting King Lion Dass to thunder any second:
Herodotus maango to Socrates denge, Sophocles maango to cheer denge.
“King Leonidas was from Sparta. Herodotus, Socrates and Sophocles are from Athens…I doubt he would…”
As Sunny’s brow knitted, I realized that maybe I had said too much.
“Athens Sparta…Ludhiana Chandigarh…kya farak parta hain….yaar?”
Quickly changing the topic, I asked : “But you did like the movie did you not”
“Of course. As they say in USA, intimidation is the best form of flattery. Who would have thought that Hollywood would start making Sunny Deol movies and copying my dialogue delivery? It is a great honour to be so recognized. And so I thought, why not be reverse-inspired and make an Indian adaptation of ‘300’? I immediately called up Anil and well….we got the balls rolling.”
Anil Sharma took over.
“You see 300 is a very political movie, just like my ‘Gadar’. Here is Sparta under attack from Persians , a “troop surge” is needed to finish the Persian menace (and we know what current event that refers to) but the Spartan council headed by Nancy Pelosi, under the influence of the enemies, refuses to sanction re-inforcements thus sending 300 brave Patriots armed with only their lungpower and clad only in thongs and sandals to battle against the mighty Persians.”
I asked excitedly.
“So will Teen Sau be a political film also?”
Anil Sharma smiled smugly.
“Of course. I mean if it was not political, Guddu Dhanoa would be doing it. In ‘Teen Sau’ we have an indecisive Prime Minister played by Ak Hangal in a turban who, even when his country is under attack, does nothing but say: We are all brothers under attack. Angry at this pandering to the enemy, the brave Colonel Journal Singh (Sunny Deol) rounds up an army of three hundred brave Jatts and marches upon Pakistan where the Emperor Mushex, the God-king, has assembled an army the likes of which noone has ever seen: an squadron of fighting rhinocerous led by Inzimam, mutant ninja turtles, Afghani mujahideen with AK69s, a battalion of mujra dancers moving to “Meri phullon wali kurti” and a clone army of Arundhuti Roys.
If 300 had profound lines like:
This is where we fight! This is where they die!
we will have:
Yahan pe hum karenge ! Aur yahan pe woh marenge!
Take this monumental exchange:
Spartan King Leonidas: Spartans! What is your profession?
Spartans: Harooh! Harooh! Harooh!
Spartan King Leonidas: See old friend, I brought more soldiers than you did.
which in “Teensau” is modified to:
Jarnail Singh: Nau jaowanon, tumhara kaam kya hain?..
Extras who will die soon: Harooh! Harooh! Harooh!
Jarnail Singh: Dekha dost, inhe kahete hain jaanbaaz sipaahi…
Choosing my words carefully, I said : “But won’t this be exactly like 300?”
Sunny said: “Of course not. Firstly we wont have leper priests —- too costly to get them from Kolkatta: after doing “City of Joy” their rates have become astronomical. Special effects will have a different feel: the guy who did FX for my movie “Nigahen” is in charge of that. Plus of course music: plenty of Bhangra and ‘Number 1 Punjabi’ and ‘nikla oh gaddi leke’ in between battle scenes and screaming matches.
One of the crew boys came running.
“Sir, scene ready. Backup dancers in place.”
Sunny and Anil Sharma got up as the romantic ditty”Pyaar mujhe tum karti ho, Don’t say NO” began playing.
Taking this as my cue to leave, I slipped away, content in the knowledge that it’s not everyday one get to see history being manufactured.
And it is not everyday that sound and fury is meant to signify something.