In those days, there was only limited hostel accommodation, so I had to find some place outside sharing room with college students from
In the First year we had a Three –month orientation class where all the students except the acting students had a common curriculum including Film Appreciation, Direction, Editing, Sound Recording, Cinematography, Art Direction, History and Culture etc.
Prof. Satish Bahadur’s classes on Film Appreciation were very much liked by all students. His way of teaching was very informal. He appeared to me like the actor Omar Sharief in Dr. Zhivago! With hand rolled cigarettes, he used to show us films and explained the finer points of Cinematic art. He taught us how to read films.
Occasionally we used to have Guest lecturers giving us classes in various subjects, and one such person I remember was Mr.Achreker the Art Director of many of Raj Kapoor’s films. He told us that once an elephant refused to walk in to the set, even though they offered various goodies to it. Finally he found out the reason that below the carpet there was a tank, which was covered with wooden planks. The elephant sensed it and refused to walk on it, for fear of falling into the pit!
He told us another interesting incident. For another film they filled the tank with water for a sequence in a pond, the hero and the leading lady got in to the water and both were standing quite close to each other in waist deep water. Suddenly the lady’s face turned red and she slapped the hero! The poor hero was wondering what he had done to get slapped. Actually it was a rat from the drainage which got inside her dress and created havoc. She thought it was the hero’s hand which did this underwater mischief. Only when the rat wiggled out and swam for safety did she realize her misunderstanding.
Mr.Achreker also explained us how he erected sets in forced Perspective for Shree 420 and Awara which were really magnificent even today. The Orientation sessions familiarized us with all aspects of Film making.
A few of us who had not studied Hindi as a Subject at school were required to learn Hindi at special classes conducted in the evenings. A part time tutor was appointed for the same but the problem was he did not know English. So we could not communicate with him and then he started teaching us Urdu! Not many of us were interested in attending these useless classes, and abstained. If there are no students to teach, then he won’t get his pay. So he requested us to just sign our attendance and go off as we please.
We had a a hilarious start to our class whenever our Vice Principal Mr.Mushir Ahmed used take our Roll Call. He always called out our full names with expanded initials in a serious tone and sing song tune. The moment he starts taking the attendance the whole class will burst out with laughter, but unmindful of it he always continued it in one breath:
11. Prem Kumar Upadhyay