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Boys will be boys

Five new stars. Eighteen months in the making. A Rs. 25 crore venture. SUDHISH KAMATH on the making of "Boys". About the fun they had and the things they did


It was the most memorable chapter of their lives. They would never get the wonder years back, they sigh. Growing up. The fights. The fun. The excitement.

The `Boys' decide to go in for a replay when METRO PLUS met at (Director) "Shanker Sir's office". Here are a few scenes that went into the making of the to-be-shortly released teen flick, which is awaited with great excitement.

THREE WEEKS AT THE HOSPITAL

You know Siddharth was in the hospital for three weeks, thanks to Nakul. Why? What happened?

"It was a stunt scene on a bike. You know we wet the roads to make them look good on film. Since it was a close shot, Nakul was supposed to ride only at 30 kilometres per hour. But Nakul in his enthusiasm to make it look good, went at about 60-65... so fast that the camera didn't even catch him in the frame. Someone yelled `Stop' instead of `Cut' and the autorickshaw in front stopped. Nakul, to save the day, pulled both the brakes just to be sure. The bike tilted to the right and skid. Nakul was so smart that he got on top of the bike as it glided 30-40 feet. I got three weeks at the hospital. And he got a scratch," recalls Sid.

"I looked at him on the other side of the bike and asked him `What are you doing there?' as the bike went gliding," laughs Nakul. "I got a scratch and a swelling," he corrects.

CLOTHES ENCOUNTERS

"There was this scene. We are all without clothes... without our tops, I mean, and we have swimming shorts. That's something I will not forget because Sai and me were flabby. There were about 200 girls watching. So we gave each other a sand bath just to cover ourselves. That was the funniest," Nakul continues with his list of memorable moments. "And the other day, my pants tore as I tried a stunt and I had to sit in a lungi for the rest of the shoot," he adds.

"The dresses I got were bigger than my usual size... so I didn't end up like that," Sai laughs.

TRYST WITH CANCER

Bharath himself had quite a tough time at the shoot. His most memorable was when he had to smoke a cigar. "I hate smoking. I smoked for the first time in the film. I lit a cigar taking help from Mani because he's the expert," he laughs. "And because he was a bad smoker, he smoked some 30-40 cigars that day. That was the only smoking he has done all his life and his tryst with cancer," quips Siddharth whose personal favourite embarrassing moments were the song shoots.

SONG N DANCE

"It was embarrassing and funny. It's a lot of hard work. To stop me from looking funny, I had to work hard... I still look funny," he says as an afterthought. "These guys are all good dancers. Only Nakul and me didn't know to dance. It was so bad I used to keep falling," adds Sid. "Not just my dance. They used to make fun of my Tamil... they still do," chips in Nakul.

GOOD AT CHEMISTRY

"There were constant pranks, snide remarks. Nothing was sacrosanct. Mistakes became immortal," laughs Sid. "The chemistry has been there. It's very explosive. Positives and negatives always create sparks. Of screen and on screen, chemistry has been pretty much the same. It was a noisy set," he adds.

ALL PLAY AND MORE WORK

But wait, before you think it was all fun, it must be said that there was a whole lot of work and struggle that went into the 18 month long project. Sid continues the story: "We first met at the rehearsals. We had live reading sessions and movement rehearsals. We rehearsed like we would have done for a play. It was very professional. Nothing ever changed from what we had before the shoot started. We worked with a bound script from start to finish".

FLASHBACK

Even how they made it to the movie is quite a story. Actually five different stories.

BHARATH's story:

The first to get into the band of `Boys' was Bharath, who was spotted at the Swingers show before he was called for the screen test. "One of the ADs (assistant directors) had shot my dance programme. Then I was called to meet Shanker Sir and then the screen test happened. I was quite nervous about the outcome but he asked me if I would like to sign up," smiles Bharath who plays the style guru of the gang.

MANI's story:

Mani was supposed to leave for a stage show in Kerala for Kala's Kalalaya the day he was called for a screen test. Shanker had bumped into him and Sai when they were waiting to meet an AD. "I told him I could dance. I told him I know mimicry... Then he asked me if I was free on Sunday for the screen test. I said `No' because I had the show. But I got many calls at home and I knew they were serious. So I missed the train, attended the screen-test and still made it to the dance show on Tuesday". Three months later, that paid off.

SAI's story:

Sai got in because Shanker wanted a professional drummer. "I had got a call from a friend about three times. I didn't believe it. Why would someone like Shanker want me, I thought. But then I went skeptically and three screen tests later, I was in," says the rhythm programmer who was then working with music director Manisarma. Later he went on to work with Harris Jeyaraj and A.R.Rahman himself during `Boys' and now he's back with Manisarma scoring for `Tagore', the Telugu remake of `Ramana'.

NAKUL's story:

Nakul got home at 7 and his Mom asked him to go meet Shanker. "I was so nervous, I was shaking all the way, as I came to the office on a TVS champ. I had an inferiority complex. When I met him, he asked me if I could sing and play the keyboard. I told him all about my participation in culturals studying at The Ashram. And he asked me to sing `Varaga Nadhi Kara Orum'... I sang, he joined in and soon everyone at the office joined. Next morning at 7, I was called again for a screen test. When I finished it, I thought `Man, That was bad'. I didn't hear from them for two weeks. The next thing I knew was that I was in".

SID's story:

Sid's story takes the cake. Siddharth, after finishing three years of theatre with Delhi-based amateur group `The Players', goes on to do his MBA at S.P.Jain College in Mumbai. Rejecting his campus placements, he emails Mani Ratnam saying he's keen to assist him. Mani Ratnam calls him over. Sid packs his bags to Madras Talkies. "I was one of the 4 ADs for `Kannathil Muthamittal' (KM)... I was in right from scripting to shooting to post production. It was during the launch party of KM, that Sujatha Sir who was writing the dialogues for both these films suggested I go meet Shanker. I thought it was just party banter. I knew he was looking for boys and I even forwarded pictures of boys in the age-group 18-24 to his office since we used to get pictures of actors at the Madras Talkies office," recalls Sid.

When Sid met Shankar finally, after a month, the director had finalised the rest and was still looking for his leading man. Sid wasn't sure if he wanted to act because he didn't want to lose his focus or should we say direction. "I told him I wasn't sure. But I did the screen test anyway. I was quite petrified because it would dilute my focus. I spoke to my parents and I decided to go ahead with the movie," the winner of CNBC's complete manager, adds. "I'm just riding this wave now, let me see if I get interesting work and if I can pick up important tips along the way. Eventually I want to direct," he says.

HARINI's story:

The `Tujhe Meri Kasam' heroine Genelia was the one the `Boys' picked almost unanimously when Shanker asked them to choose from a pack of three finalists. "Mani was the first to jump and choose and her when Shanker Sir asked us: Who do you think is cute".

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