Our Cinematographer Thought I Was Really Dead: JD Chakravarthy Recalls Five Iconic Satya Moments

The actor, who was integral in the making of RGV's contemporary classic, cherishes his memories associated with five iconic scenes from the film
JD Chakravarthy about Satya
JD Chakravarthy about Satya

JD Chakravarthy is not a fan of past glory but it continues to chase him nevertheless. Although the actor would prefer talking about the future instead of reveling in his achievements, he feels there is some joy to be had in reminscing memories of Satya, which turned 25 last month. In a recent interview with Film Companion, the actor, who played the titular character and was RGV's associate in the film, shares anecdotes from the making of the contemporary classic.

The arrival of Satya

Let me tell you a secret. I shot the scene in which Satya comes out of the railway station. Ramu garu wasn't available that day and he gave us a brief that I will be walking out of the staion. Anurag Kashyap was assisting me back then. There was an inoperative theatre opposite the railway station, where we placed the camera.

Confrontation with Bhiku Mhatre in prison

My sister would often tell me that I have a very sharp nose. But because of this scene, it (his nose) got crooked. Manoj and I fight in the scene but if you notice, it looks like Manoj hits me more than I hit him. That's because we planned to shoot his parts first, and then mine. We kept telling him to be cautious with timing as he was hitting me for real, and he said he'll be careful. And then during one take, he hit me with so much force and that's all I remember. My nose was bleeding like an open tap. I'm not joking and this might sound a bit weird, but after that incident, I began wearing a cricket guard while filming action scenes with Manoj because it gets intense while shooting with that guy.

Satya and Bhiku commit murder in the daylight

More than the making of this scene, there's another memorable moment related to it. Around a year ago, Ramu garu and Puri Jagannadh called me out of the blue and started praising me. I was confused, wondering if I did anything great enough in recent times for them to randomly call and appreciate me. They were telling me that my expressions were great and all. I eventually learnt that they were watching Satya at the time, and in this scene, they felt that I delivered the line, 'Maar, Guru Narayan ko maar, Bhiku,' with great conviction. This phone call is more memorable than the actual experience of shooting it.

Also, something serious happened the day we were filming this scene. While filming, Saurabh Shukla (Kallu Mama) didn't arrive at the spot and I kept calling him. He came in late and looked quite disturbed. I asked him what happened and he said he rammed into an auto on his way. Ram garu came and asked what happened. When we told him he was involved in an accident, he immediately asked, "Is the auto driver fine?" Saurabh was extremely hurt by Ramu sir's response. However, Ramu sir said that was his instant reaction. He wasn't joking at all! I only remember the weird incident.

The theatre mishap

We shot this at the Bhaidas Hall in Mumbai. A day before the shoot, Ramu sir strictly told me that he needed 1000 junior artists for the scene and wouldn't shoot it if the count fell short even by a single number. And as always, we didn't have the money. He was adamant that he needed 1000 people and even warned me that he'll take a headcount. As part of the direction team, I had to execute it and I had no clue how we were going to pull it off. I went mad. On the day of the shoot, Ramu sir arrived on set, but I didn't meet him. Just when he was about to have breakfast, I called the junior artists and started counting them. After counting to 50-60 members, he got fed up as I wasn't letting him eat. He told me, "Fine, I believe you. There are 1000 people," and let them in. Through this interview, I want to tell Ramu garu the truth. We had only 680 junior artists. That's all we could afford. That man is so headstrong that he might have counted the number of people if he wasn't having his breakfast. I chose the right time to let the extras slide in.

Satya's death

This might be the saddest scene from the film for the audience, but for me, it was the scariest. Ramu sir explained the shot to me and as an assistant, I kept it all ready for him. When he came, he asked me, 'So, what now? Are you going to channel the Kamal Haasan in you?' He told me to control my antics and warned me that if I overperformed by falling on the ground and crying, he'll cut the shot. He just wanted me to climb the stairs, knock on the door, call Vidya (Urmila Matondkar) and come back. I told Ramu sir that I had explained the same to Nithin, our steady-cam operator and the junior artists in the scene.

And when were shooting, the junior artist, being the good actor she is, gave a shocked reaction to my bullet wound and naturally, there was a jerk in my body. And as I was walking, I fell. Nithin, being the skilled steady-cam operator he is, managed to capture it. And then, I knocked down a water drum by mistake. Ramu garu kept watching the scene but didn't cut the shot because in the two rehearsals we did, none of this happened. And there was another camera rolling inside Vidya's room to capture my fall after my death. It was all conceived as a single shot. And when I finally fell down on the ground, Gerard Hooper, our cinematographer, thought I was really dead. He jumped over the camera and tried to perform CPR on me. This happened for real. Now, time for another confession. Everything I did, including falling down and knocking over the water drum, was pre-planned and I had communicated the same to our team. Till date, Ramu sir doesn't know that it was all intentional!

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