Behind the Scenes with Homi Adajania on ‘Murder Mubarak’ Film Set

The bustling film crew, the actor’s intense focus, and the director’s command marking the beginning and end of each scene are often what we imagine when we think of a movie set. However, in the heart of North Delhi, within the walls of the grand Hotel Maidens, the atmosphere is astonishingly relaxed as director Homi Adajania oversees the production of ‘Murder Mubarak’, the latest Netflix whodunnit without ever uttering the word “action”.

Hotel Maidens serves as a doppelganger for the elite Delhi Gymkhana, and its stately architecture and sprawling lawns set the stage for the intricate narrative. Amid this setting, actors and extras remain composed, surveying tables arranged with evening refreshments while awaiting their cues.

At the centre of this calm is director Homi Adajania, known for critically acclaimed films like ‘Being Cyrus’, ‘Finding Fanny’, and ‘Cocktail’. Adajania, a familiar and composed figure behind the monitor, delegates the task of cueing scenes to his chief assistant. The typical directorial shout of “action” is noticeably absent.

The command of “cut” is more sacred, reserved exclusively for Adajania, who prefers to let scenes run a touch longer, often capturing genuine reactions and expressions for potential use in the film. One amusing exception to this rule is Dimple Kapadia, who spiritedly declares the end of a take, despite not being in the scene – a reflection of the jovial and relaxed atmosphere on set.

The film brings together a stellar cast as suspects in the murder of a gym trainer, mirroring the dynamics found within real-world clubs. Adajania emphasizes that the film is a collaborative effort and aims for an energy on set that will leave fond memories for the team.

Sharing snippets of onscreen magic, Adajania presents a sequence shot in the chaotic streets of perhaps Delhi’s Kamla Nagar Market, where actor Pankaj Tripathi, portraying the protagonist Bhavani Singh, encounters difficulty with a car. A sense of camaraderie flourishes as Tripathi visits the crew between takes.

Adajania indulges the crew with an exclusive preview of an unreleased promo for his series, ‘Saas Bahu Aur Flamingo’, playfully satirizing a popular soap opera.

‘Murder Mubarak’, adapted from Anuja Chauhan’s novel ‘Club You To Death’, saw Adajania brought in to steer the adaptation. He transparently navigates the convolutions of the murder mystery with humor and insight, acknowledging the challenge of understanding the characters’ multiple, intertwining motives.

Although a native of Bombay, Adajania dissects the Delhi-centric novel turned film, noting that the insulated world of gymkhana club culture is uniform across cities. Members vie for validation through club elections which seem to eclipse the nation’s political scene, a phenomenon Adajania has observed firsthand.

The director candidly expresses his sentiment towards his previous work, ‘Angrezi Medium’, and draws parallels between the intuitive acting styles of both Tripathi and the beloved Irrfan, who starred in the prequel.

On set, lively exchanges are shared not only among the stars like Sara Ali Khan, Karisma Kapoor, and Vijay Varma but also with the ensemble. For instance, Sanjay Kapoor, portraying royalty, delights with tales, while young actress Amara Sangam juggles her role with teaching a business of acting course, and Brijendra Kala shares his wisdom.

All cast and crew, having spent months living and working together within the hotel, have become characters themselves, thriving within the collective pursuit of telling the murder mystery that unwinds onscreen.

As the on-set narrative of ‘Murder Mubarak’ captures the attention of its creators, one cannot help but wonder if the real-life strangeness could outdo the fictional tale. While such unscripted events are far from desired, the underlying sentiment prevails: the enthralling charm of filmmaking – with or without an emphatic directorial “cut”.

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