Here's a photograph that came to me as part of a press release - it's from the Mumbai launch of the coffee-table book History in the Making: The Visual Archives of Kulwant Roy. On the left is photographer Aditya Arya, who inherited hundreds of photos from the late Kulwant Roy's collection, digitised and preserved them and helped put the book together; on the right is the actor Anupam Kher, who did the inauguration.
The book promises to be a fascinating collection of previously unpublished pictures of national leaders and historical events, and I look forward to it. However, the photo above - although of much less historical value - was of personal interest for another reason.
In 1982, the then 22-year-old Aditya Arya was the stills photographer on the Jaane bhi do Yaaro shoot. As trivia buffs - and devoted fans of the film - might know, Anupam Kher played a role that never made it to the final cut of that movie, a bumbling, short-sighted hired assassin known as the "Disco Killer". If his scenes hadn't been chopped, it would probably have been the actor's breakthrough part. (Having read the original script, I was particularly amused by a scene where the Disco Killer explains that he prefers to shoot at his targets when they are in a crowd rather than when they are isolated, "because then I can dispatch the entire crowd at one go and your guys will be taken care of in the process”. Luis Bunuel, who said that the ultimate act of surrealism would be to shoot randomly into a crowd, would have approved.)
"The Disco Killer would have become enormously popular," Arya told me when I spoke with him about the film last year, "I could see him becoming a recurring character in later comedies." Unfortunately there are no surviving stills from the Disco Killer's scenes - and what a pity, I think, as I watch these two men, now middle-aged, looking all serious at a photo exhibition.
However, Arya did send me a photograph from the JBDY shoot where, for once, he found himself on the wrong end of the camera. This picture was taken during a chaotic five-day location shoot in Alibaug, mention of which still causes the eyes of every JBDY unit member to widen in terror. Basic facilities weren't available, there were no sleeping arrangements, and people would take a bath in the open under the garden tap. Young Aditya was doing just this when the film's lead actor turned the lens on him:
Photo credit: Naseeruddin Shah who, as it happens, played a photographer in the film. (This picture was taken with Naseer's own Nikon camera, which was later stolen during the shoot.)