The world came to a standstill thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020. An event like this had not happened in a hundred years. As a result, when the news first came that Covid-19 cases are increasing, most people in the world didn't take it seriously.
“Kartik Aaryan bada tension mein rehta tha. When he told me, ‘Sir, Corona’, I told him, ‘Daro na’! I used to laugh at his paranoia about Covid” – Anees Bazmee
Anees Bazmee was one such director. He was filming for Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 then and took the pandemic lightly. Of course, he was proven wrong. In a recent interaction with the media, he spoke about it and revealed that his lead actor Kartik Aaryan had warned him that Covid-19 can prove to be dangerous. Anees rubbished it off and this episode reminded him of Ajay Devgn who had similarly warned him about the 26/7 floods.
Anees Bazmee said, “We were shooting for Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 in Lucknow. We had to pack up from there on March 13, 2020. The pandemic was a new thing. Humein zyada pata nahi tha. We assumed that we’ll return to Mumbai for 10-15 days and return to Lucknow. Our idea was to complete the shoot in 3 months. We had shot for 22 days. Unn 22 dinon mein humne 23 din ka kaam kar liya tha. Hence, I was quite happy.”
Anees Bazmee continued, “Kartik Aaryan bada tension mein rehta tha, as he is from a family of doctors. I used to laugh at his paranoia about Covid. I wondered that isko koi kaam toh nahi aa gaya (and hence he’s giving the excuse of Coronavirus)! It reminded me of the time when I was shooting with Ajay Devgn for Naam on July 26, 2005, when Mumbai got flooded like never before.”
Anees Bazmee continued, “This was the day we were filming a fight sequence in an underground parking lot in BKC (Bandra Kurla Complex). Ajay told me, ‘Anees bhai, weather bahut kharab hone waala hai’. I looked him and even then I wondered if he wants to bunk the shoot for some reason! He continued, ‘Aaj bahut zor se bearish aayegi. Mujhe lagta hai ki aaj dophar tak pack-up ho jaana chahiye’. I told him not to worry. He insisted that he has read about it in the news. To which I replied, ‘Mera dil bol raha hai Ajay ki kuch nahi hoga’.”
“So we started shooting. At around 3-4 pm, water started flowing out of the gutter in the parking lot. I told my assistant director to climb up to the ground floor and see what was happening. He came running and told me, ‘Sir, sab doob gaya’! I was like, ‘Kya doob gaya?’ He said, ‘Poora area doob gaya’! I went up and saw the roads submerged under waste deep water. Even Ajay Devgn came to check. I tried to run away from him (laughs)! Ajay told me, ‘Yeh dekho. Fasa diya aapne’. He also reminded me, ‘Maine aapko subah 10 baje bola tha’. I honestly told him, ‘Haan par mujhe laga tujhe kuch kaam aaya hoga, isliye tujhe jaana hoga’ (laughs)! He insisted that we leave immediately.
Anees Bazmee continued, “We all sat in our cars and began to evacuate. Sadly, Ajay couldn’t make it to his house in Juhu. He took a turn and stayed the night at Taj Land’s End hotel. Meanwhile, I got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. I took a U-Turn and came back to our shooting spot, and took refuge in the make-up van. There were network issues too. My son was in school. I somehow contacted my driver. Mera driver kandhe pe bitha ke bacche ko ghar pe leke aaya.”
Anees Bazmee then said, “I was stuck in the van for 3 days. We faced difficulty in getting food and water. And everyone would come and taunt me, ‘Sir, bola tha aapko’! I was like, ‘Bas ho gaya’ (laughs)!”
Anees Bazmee stated, “Similarly when Kartik Aaryan told me about Covid-19 cases, I rubbished it off. For me, work is important. So when he told me, ‘Sir, Corona’, I told him, ‘Daro na’! Hence, I took it very lightly. Then we realized the seriousness of the situation. Phone pe Bachchan saab ki awaaz bhi aayi! Finally, we got an ultimatum to return. I planned to resume shooting in 15 days. I decided to head to my bungalow in Lonavala for a few days with my family. I didn’t even carry sufficient clothes. You won’t believe it, I left that place after 13 months! I didn’t even step out of the bungalow for more than a year.”
Anees Bazmee signed off by saying, “Even this time, Kartik Aaryan would constantly be ‘Sir, maine bataya tha aapko’! And again, I replied, ‘Bas ho gaya’ (laughs)!”
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