If you are an avid follower of this blog, you probably recall me being denied of my first opportunity to ‘break the industry’ a mere 3 days into my Mumbai adventure, as Paul decided to make other plans at the 11th hour. Since then we haven’t ventured into the touristy areas so I haven’t been approached since, however on Monday I decided to clean out my handbag! Now, every Woman knows that this tedious task can take hours and who knows what you might find; as well as a total of 15 British Pound coins (I haven’t lived in the UK for nearly a year) 6 earplugs, 16 nail files, a fork, 3 stones and a shell I found the Bollywood scouts card! As it was Paul’s fault I wasn’t the western worlds answer to Priyanka Chopra yet I asked him to call immediately! ‘Yes she will be at McDonalds Colaba tomorrow at 8.00am!’ he confirmed. It was as easy as that! I was in!
I arrived punctually at 8.00am the next day, there was 19 of us all together. I arrived via driver in a blue flowery dress, compulsory 4 inch wedges, hair straightened and full make up ready to go, the other 18 were bohemian stylee backpackers to whom the words soap and hairdryer would be a distant memory, I looked a little bit out of place but I wasn’t fazed. The bunch consisted of: An Irish primary school teacher, a Canadian actor who is off to Pakistan and Afghanistan next, 3 Irish doctors, a guy from Norwich and a girl from Sweden who met travelling, a man in his 50’s whose flight back to the UK has been delayed for 11 days, 2 girls from Spain, a screen writer from Mexico, 2 guys from France, one of which was drugged on Friday and didn’t come round until Monday and was robbed of everything he owned- he was doing this for the money so he could get back home, 2 young guys from Holland, a Woman from Belgium who was flying home that evening and 4 lovely 18 year old ladies from the UK (If I had little sisters I would want them to be like these girls, they were just lovely and from the Lesbian capital of the world as one of them proudly told me. ) After a brief hello we were carted off by the organizer into Taxis and ferried to Mehboob (he, he) Studios in Bandra. We were first treated to breakfast, which consisted of various Indian delights including a chili and mushroom omelet, which was delicious, we then made our way to the less than glamorous green room where we could meet each other properly. The Irish teacher and the girls from the lesbian capital of the world had already spent one day filming, so were explaining to us all what to expect, they seemed to have really enjoyed it so I was looking forward to getting started. No hair and makeup was required as it was a nightclub scene so only costumes were needed, we made our way into ‘wardrobe’ or 'really old clothing rail', as it should have been called. The girls were given pretty crappy dresses and the guys old 1960’s style suits, after seeing the Indian guys and girls on set we came to the conclusion that they wanted to depict Indians as being ‘cooler’ than westerners or this is what they thought westerners wore, either way we all thought we looked hilarious and took some snaps. My dress was zebra print and didn’t fit at all, so I asked if I could wear my own dress, they agreed. Once dressed the organizer locked up our possessions in the room and we made our way down to the set. Here the atmosphere was electric, the music was already pumping and we were told to dance like we had never danced before! After a few minutes of ‘warming up’ they started performing proper choreographed Bollywood dance moves and everyone joined in! Being the ex A Level dance student I am, I picked it up very easily, but so did the 3 Irish doctors so that proves how simple it was. As I had my wedges on I was a good 5 inches taller than all the other girls who were wearing flip flops, so was put at the back of most of scenes- so who knows if you’ll ever get to see my expert moves?
Once they had the crowd scene down the actors came on stage with a group of white western dancers. These poor girls were dressed in red bra and pants with some sort of doily on their heads, it’s no wonder Indian men stare at white women walking down the street, this is who they think we are! I felt sorry for them as everyone was staring, but they are professional dancers from England, Australia and America who come to Mumbai with an agency for 6 months and dance in various Bollywood movies. They get paid around 7000 rupees per day which is pretty good and the chances of them getting an opportunity in a film back home would be slim, but still, they were clearly less than impressed with their costumes and covered up between takes. When the actors arrived on stage things started to take a bit longer, we would dance for ten seconds and then the music was cut, we would chat for a bit and then the process would start again. Yes, it could have got slightly boring but it was more about the atmosphere, being within sniffing distance of Bollywood actors and meeting and learning about new people. We had frequent breaks where we were given local chai, water, and Tic Tacs (I know random) and lunch was a delight, chicken curry, Dahl, rice and potatoes and they weren’t stingy on the portions either.
|Turn it this way!|
At 8.30pm we started to film the final scene, which again involved dancing and waving your arms up in the air (like you just don’t care), within 15 minutes we were finished and everyone started cheering. ‘That was a wrap’ (I’ve always wanted to say that) the director shouted. Although long and tiring, with lots of stopping and starting, I had a fantastic day, I learnt so much about the world from the backpackers and have at least 6 new friends of Facebook! I was also offered a speaking role for a movie on 21st and 22nd of May but I unfortunately have other plans (more on this to follow) But most of all I was in an actual, real life, Bollywood movie! I feel complete!
If you are in Mumbai and would like to be an extra in a Bollywood movie, email firstname.lastname@example.org
|The dancer with a doily on her head|
|Drag queen, (the one in the pink)|
|Mallika and the man in drag|
|Another one of the set - nightclub|
|The main man|