A film set with no electricity. A surprise visit by Alok Nath. A sneak peek at how All India Bakchod shot Kejriwal — The Movie

From crazy job applications to effusive fan mail, the official email account of All India Bakchod promises to be an interesting read. “Keep up the Bakchodi” or “Where do these Bakchodful ideas come from?” are some of the gems that come its way. Such attention on these talented stand-up comics — Tanmay Bhat, Gursimran Khamba, Rohan Joshi and Ashish Shakya — is not entirely surprising. Last year, they performed at 44 sold-out shows and their video It’s your fault, a satirical take on public figures blaming women for rapes, clocked over a million hits in five days on YouTube. More recently, their clever spoof on Yashraj Films had the giant production house in splits, albeit after an initial disagreement. With work picking up, these 20-something-year-olds are finally looking to officially register their company and maybe get a workspace. On the way to Madh Island in Mumbai to shoot Kejriwal — The Movie, the next video for their YouTube channel, Bhat argues with his chartered accountant, who’s understandably wary of registering a company that has the word Bakchod in its name. “What is wrong with AIB Pvt Ltd? If they ask, can’t you just say Aib is my father’s pet name?” he says.

The shoot is at an old, dilapidated two-storeyed bungalow that looks particularly daunting since there’s no electricity at the site. Yet, work goes on. The bulky equipment is offloaded from a truck and the props are carried up a narrow staircase under the thin stream of cell phone lights. Everyone on the set — the actors, director, make-up artist — is a friend who has volunteered services, pro bono.

This video is crucial for AIB. In a first, their budget has run up to a lakh, some of which came out of their own pockets. A bulk of it was spent on acquiring sophisticated cameras. But it’s a gamble they’re hoping pays off. “We chose this subject because it was huge news. It’s something everybody reacted to because nobody expected Arvind Kejriwal to win,” says Shakya. The sketch is a tongue-in-cheek reimagining of Kejriwal’s rise to power. He’s seen as a troubled, Batman-like superhero, crouched on a ledge that overlooks the city. He is armed with his most deadly weapon — a modest mop. His mentor from whom he imbibes his middle-class virtues is veteran actor Alok Nath, Hindi cinema’s righteous Babuji. “Alok Nath is basically playing Morgan Freeman,” guffaws Bhat. Nath’s character in the script was initially represented by his photo, till the actor learnt of the video from his daughter Junhai, an assistant director on the set. “My daughter said, ‘Papa, I don’t know if I should do this. They are making a caricature of you and Kejriwal.’ I thought what the hell, I want to do this part myself,” says Nath, clad in his trademark Babuji attire, a white churidar-kurta with a shawl wrapped around his shoulders.

When power resumes, the crew scrambles to make up for lost time. The actor playing Kejriwal, Hussain Dalal, googles the new chief minister’s picture to ensure he has the length of the moustache and the knot of the muffler exact. The room falls silent as Nath takes his mark. With a garish red light flashing on his face and smoke billowing from behind, he says, “Elections ke pehle Babuji ke pair nahi chhuega, Kejru?” in a scene which looks straight out of a tacky horror movie. “Awesome. Seeti bajega,” whispers a voice. Another exclaims, “The internet will break when people see him.”

Like with all its other videos, AIB is not yet looking to make money out of it. At this point, the goal is to effectively tap social media, reach as many viewers as possible and to get more fans for their comedy collective. Yet, the precision with which each shot is captured makes one forget that the video will be uploaded on the Web for free.

Even with a final script in hand, the boys leave room for last-minute improvisations. The first draft, they say, got too emotional with lines like “ Aam aadmi jaagega”. They infused the later drafts with funnier punch lines. It’s close to midnight, and the shoot is still underway. The crew has an exhausting night ahead of it. As the camera rolls, so do the gags and wisecracks on Kejriwal. A new one is invented periodically. “Let’s do something with his Wagon R,” they decide. Minutes later one overhears, “Do you think Kejriwal smokes or drinks alcohol?”

Mohini Chaudhuri

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 25, 2014)
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