Behind-the-scenes at The Boss Dialogues with Farhan Akhtar

A PLOT IS HATCHED

So all good ideas have their root in an interesting story. Here’s how inspiration for The Boss Dialogues struck. Indu Mirani and I have worked together in the Entertainment section of a popular daily, hit it off immediately and she continued to be a friend, guide, philosopher and partner-in-crime even after we both found different jobs. During our time at the daily, I tagged along for certain interviews if the star happened to be on the dishy side or had a brilliant sense of humour. The perks of the job, of course. During one of her interviews with the legendary Amitabh Bachchan, the mutual courtesy and comfort was evident and since then the seed of The Boss Dialogues was sown.

One confesses that all one did at the interview with the superstar is goggle like a goldfish (such is his aura) while Indu chatted away comfortably. Over time, we realised that today it is impossible even for journalists to bond with the stars like in the good old days when one could go and hang about the sets and become part of the scenery to the crew. The PR machinery and agenda-driven appearances left no room for a real ‘dialogue’ and what filtered through to the unsuspecting public were promotional bytes and carefully constructed personas.

So we thought why not start with directors who were changing the game? Our wishlist started with the versatile Farhan Akhtar and included Farah Khan, Kabir Khan, Karan Johar, Raju Hirani, Vishal Bhardwaj, Imtiaz Ali… so many fantastic talents who were the ‘bosses’ of cinema. Farhan was gracious enough to agree immediately as he intuitively understood that we were trying to go beyond the superfluous and initiate a real dialogue about the art of cinema and storytelling. Farah Khan and Kabir Khan have been equally wonderful and forthcoming for the May and June line-up. We are hoping to be as fortunate with the rest of our wishlist.

If there is a director you’d like to see featured in The Boss Dialogues, please mail us here (hyperlink: namratab@thebossdialogues.com)

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While we tested the idea on unsuspecting but hugely enthusiastic friends and family, Farhan’s nod of agreement was a huge shot in the arm. We furiously launched into pre-production for the event and  our first and eternally supportive partner – artist Julius Macwan – offered us his lovely, quaint art residency Last Ship as the intimate venue. The Pint Room said ‘Cheers’ to the idea of our F&B partners, Bombil Times, the guys who know the city inside out, came on board as the social media partners. Mumbai Boss, our favourite read for discovering all the secrets this city holds, were a dream addition to our list of formidable partners.

Then by sheer fortitude we bumped into Rajesh Jog at The Bagel Shop. As a financial wiz, he has an eye for interesting projects and introduced us to our web partners Bitmoji. A bit of magic. Arjun and Tara helped us put up a website overnight and now the project was real.

Finally, we love Twitter for connecting people. We connected with the lovely Deepti Dadlani of Indigo Deli who dished up a wonderful hamper for Farhan. No sorry bouquets, but delicious fresh goodies from the deli.

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A MOTLEY CREW

So the stage was set. But where would we be without the love of our friends who also happen to be incredibly talented? DJ EFFRT aka Kenneth Lobo offered his skills as a DJ, the fantastic illustrator Janine Shroff miraculously came up with an apt logo, artist Amrita Bagchi with her unique style was roped in for creatives and set design. While our filmmaker friend Viraj Gupta was on board as our producer.

A hyper-talented motley crew of like-minded people was in place.

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While the plan was outlined, gaps filled in, loopholes plugged, nothing prepared us for the overwhelming response on the big day. Thanks to our partnerships, we were able to declare the event free. HT Cafe and Mumbai Mirror carried stories on April 20, and all hell broke loose.

Having woken up groggily at 8 am for the 9 am set-up after a gruelling few days before the event, there were 45 missed calls on the phone already, half of which were logged in between 7 am to 7 15 am. Why on earth were people even up and about at that absurd hour? By afternoon, the number had gone up to 400, registrations poured in but unfortunately there wasn’t room for more than 60 as this was meant to be an intimate affair. Our dear friend Pritesh Angane patiently fielded calls, helped execute the set design, had magical solutions at hand for every crisis and provided a wonderful support system through the event. We love you for that, Po!

With great regret we had to say no to enthusiastic callers and even turn down offers of bribes. One bright chap volunteered his services – will even serve Farhan chai, he magnanimously offered – and it broke our heart to say no to such an enthu cutlet. A woman left her phone number and a mildly obscene message for Farhan in a rather throaty voice.

Meanwhile, the place was transforming into a cosy filmmaker’s study. The antique roll top desk had books on cinema, photos of Farhan and Zoya as kids and Farhan on the sets. Amrita Bagchi’s eye for detail meant that we were surrounded by art and references of films that have made an impact on cinema.

By a miracle we were good to go as the guests began to arrive.