Good god. Can you imagine making a film and being responsible for the characters almost 20 years after you have made it ?
I cannot count the number of times that people have stopped me on the streets , and now asked me on twitter or on my blog “why did the little girl Tina have to die ?”
So here is the truth finally. After all these years. I got cold feet !
There is always a thin line between farce and fantasy. I was having so much fun shooting the characters of Mr India, with such fine actors, that I thought the film would be turning into a farce. And films like Mr India cannot turn into a farce, they must be like a fantasy that makes you believe in what is happening, or there will be a rejection from the audience, specially from Children. There is a sense of emotional involvement and believability that rides through the film.
I looked at Mr India and realized that somehow I had to bring the film back to the ground. Earth it, in a way, so people stay connected to the film in their hearts, and not just in their minds. If it turned into a farce, the film would just pass by.
So I am afraid I committed the crime of killing Tina. Of course I gave the blame to Mogambo, but I was the guilty one.
And the scene where Tina is in her coffin and all the kids come and kiss her one by one and lay flowers on her body ? Umm … another confession to make. Little Tina could not help laughing all the time. It was so strange to see the beautiful little girl in a tiny coffin in the graveyard we were shooting the film in – just burst into peals of laughter every time someone lay a flower over her.
So we decided to wait till she went to sleep. But of course she would not comply. And with the light getting darker and the producer screaming on my back. I asked her mother what would put her to sleep. What do you give kids to put them to sleep ?
And yes, I confess, her mother and I gave her a tiny spoonful of that. And Tina went peacefully to sleep. And something strange happened.
Each kid coming to put a flower on on her, looking like sleeping beauty, but in tiny coffin broke down. Not acting, but in real. Some of them started to sob. The Sri Devi started to sob, as did other crew members. And I must admit a let e few tears roll by. There was something about how beautiful and serene little Tina was looking in that tiny coffin that just affected us all on that day.
If Tina had woken up and seen us all crying that day, she would have just broken into peels of laughter.