“I’m a fool for forests,” chimed Darsheel Safary. His shining eyes and naughty smile beamed into the camera. It took him less than five minutes to absorb the script and without a fuss we had a perfect take. “Support Greenpeace and save our forests,” said Darsheel. With that, he became the voice of the Greenpeace campaign – Fools for forests.
Why fool? A question, we were asked often while shooting with the stars. Greenpeace is campaigning to save the forests. Foolish idea some say! But we would rather be foolish and save our forests, than be clever and mine forests for coal, and lose them forever! Especially when we have clean energy options and energy efficiency measures to power our homes.
We were a crew of 15 odd people – director, producer, DoP, creative director, lightsmen, sound guys, cameramen and I with another colleague of mine. We traversed all of Mumbai capturing various celebrities for eternity into the film.
I am grateful to all who welcomed us into their homes and studios and sets and offices. From Mr Om Puri to Mr Shyam Benegal to the effervescent Vinay Pathak, all of them graciously accommodated us into their busy schedules to promote the campaign.
Vinay’s great sense of humour had us in splits. He was more than aware of the hellish life that people working in the coal mines live. He asked me, “Aap kisi coal mine mein kabhi gayin hain? (have you ever been in a coal mine?).” I shook my head. We gulped our various types of tea, thanked Vinay and off we went to another end of Mumbai.
The office of Mr. Benegal was a journey into the past. It was a past of beautiful movies – Nishaant, Mandi, Bhoomika, Junoon. There were movie posters yellowing with age but filled with the beauty of those years. Smita Patil stared at us in a way that only she could from a Bhoomika poster. He had a word of advice for our director, “Never settle for 99%.”
Nandita Das, the green crusader was perfect in her take. She hoped that our campaign would bear fruit. The bubbly Divya Dutta wanted to know more about the campaign. Her mom wanted to feed us chole. Shalini Vatsa was proud to be a fool for forests. Even though she was in pain due to a hairline fracture, she agreed to lend her voice to the campaign. Deepika Samson, a budding actor was happy to help. Her mom plied us with soft drinks despite our protests.
Shaan in his silky smooth voice sang and urged people to save the forests. We met him the previous evening at a school’s cricket ground. He had gathered his friends from the music fraternity who had come to play cricket and explained our campaign. Unfortunately, due to bad light and lack of location we had to postpone the shoot to the next day.
Gracious and polite Sonu Sood, the villain of Dabangg was shooting at Essel Studios. We were told he would be more than happy to be part of the campaign but we would have to catch him in between his shots. Clad in a cop uniform, he rushed into the room where our crew had set up lights and sound. Within ten minutes, we had our perfect take.
Salim walked in late, apologising profusely but with his cheerful persona charmed us in a matter of few minutes. His positive energy reflects in his music compositions. Band Baaja Baraat’s music oozes energy. I loved that movie and the music.
I walked into Meiyang Chang’s home and heard a Bollywood song playing. I was wrong. It was not a recorded song but Chang singing! He sang in his beautiful voice asking everyone to think about the people displaced from the forests. Mr Mahesh Bhatt in his determined voice recited an extract from a Robert Frost poem, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”
These lovely folks have added strength to our campaign. They were barely given a day’s notice yet they were happy to support our campaign. We need more such people. We need you to step forward and join us to save our forests.
Yes, we all want development. We want our homes to be comfortable. We want our fans, lights, air conditioners and other electrical items running, but at what cost? Coal powered plants are not the way forward. Coal is under forests and we are killing the forests mindlessly. What are we leaving behind for our children? What are we doing for the people who are being shunted out of their homes in the forests? Can you imagine the same happening to you? We are losing the bio-diversity that exists in the forests. We are destroying elephant corridors. Human versus animal conflicts are on the rise. Displaced people are rushing to the cities to make ends meet. When did we become so selfish?
What is the need to cause so much destruction? Renewable energy is clean and along with energy efficiency practices it will provide for all our needs. It will also keep our forests and future safe. We should urge our government to make the right choice. After all, we are not fools for forests for nothing.
Make the right choice. Support Greenpeace and save our forests.