On His very first trip to the West, in 1932, with the lightening speed typical of His work, Baba made contact with Hollywood and its reigning luminaries — stars, directors, producers, writers. He indicated He was laying the cables for a totally new type of motion picture. He also, for many years, involved His close followers in the "film project" — the planning, writing and producing of a full-length feature film based on a theme He Himself outlined.
He unfolded this project to them in January, 1934. All the Western group of devotees were to share in it, each contributing their own special talent. Devotees in Europe, America and even China (Kitty Davy's brother, Herbert) — were involved. Gabriel Pascal worked on producing it; Karl Vollmoeller, author of "The Miracle", worked on a script; Norina Matchabelli worked on contacting important people who could be of use: (Margaret Craske, ballet teacher and former dancer with the Diaghilev Ballet, worked on creating the dance. She recalls working on this later on in Nasik, 1936. The dance was to be for 120 people, but as she had only two to work with — Delia De Leon and Rano Gayley, neither of them dancers, — each one had to represent 60 dancers.) Kitty Davy was involved also, and her brother, Herbert, was asked by Baba to investigate new film techniques — even in China! Later, on his return to England, strangely enough, he got work at the Crown Films unit. Walter Mertens was a host to many meetings on the film, in Zurich, and so on.
The project seesawed between success and failure, always spurred on and encouraged by letters and cables from Baba. For example, in July 1935, in the midst of His strict seclusion on Mount Abu, Baba wrote: "The film work which is left incomplete would stop without My guidance and constant advice as they need and desire. Remember all, I am always with you — M.S. Irani."
The biggest problem seemed to be the script. Finding financial backing was also difficult. To lower costs, it was planned to film it in India. But in January, 1934, Baba wrote the group: "Producing such a picture with plenty of technical difficulties, of trick scenes, etc., and many other production details that would be impossible to tackle in India, hence the question of producing there is dropped and it is now decided to produce it in the West."
At this point Baba requested Karl Vollmoeller find an independent producer in the West, European or American. Baba promised personally to come and aid in explaining details about the film. His scenario outline was based on the theme of reincarnation . . . a group of souls get very involved in each other, change roles in the next two or three lives and through intense working out of karma, plus the grace of the Avatar, achieve God-Realization at the end of these very few lives. Sandwiched in between was a condensed explanation of the whole process of evolution, reincarnation, involution, etc. — a miniature "God Speaks". Baba even had a chart drawn up under His direction to illustrate it a — ll it must have been very similar to the chart now called the "Rano Chart."*
In a letter dated April, 1934, He describes it thus: "I am preparing a detailed Chart with illustrations explaining all details about the Creation, Evolution, Reincarnation, The Planes, Illumination and Realization for the film, which will be a guide and of considerable help to those who handle this work of production, even in My absence, giving them ideas to work out other details connected with this." He added that the group should not think that by His work on the Chart, He was postponing His coming to the West.
Whatever it meant for the future of "spiritual" film making, the project had one obvious effect — it kept the group of "new" Baba lovers working for Him, concentrating on Him, learning to try to please Him, and accepting constant changes of plans, failures, and disappointments, but also obviously enjoying the thrill of constant letters, cables and messages from the new-found Beloved far away in India.
*Page 202, God Speaks