Mumbai Travel Blog

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Grooming between takes - the guy on the right is the star, but his co-star was also very into his hair.
After yet another overnight train, I landed in Mumbai about 7 a.m. and headed for the Salvation Army hostel, serving up dorm beds for a mere 150 rupees, but just don't expect a hot shower and clean toilet.  In fact, don't ever expect that anywhere in India.  So far I've had cold showers or no shower, just a bucket with which to dump the cold water over my head.  I have no hope for a hot shower until I get home I fear.

So I registered for my bed and the fellow signing me in strained through his one eye to ask if I wanted to be an extra in a Bollywood flick.  I didn't even ask the details and said yes.  I found the casting agent gal who said she'd pick us up at 12:30.
Director on left and some other actor on right - during scene set up.
  I didn't know the details, how much money we'd get or anything, but I had heard others talk about doing it and I wanted to experience it for myself. 

Now I also knew from others that it is not really that much fun.  Well, it wasn't really that much fun.  I did bring a book and some water, which was a good thing, because we sat around for hours.  We drove about an hour and a half in traffic to reach some run down hotel.  At first I thought this was some scary movie about to unfold, but when we entered, there was a camera rolling and all sorts of people.  A guy and gal were standing on a bed and a fan was blowing and feathers were being thrown at them - apparently some dream sequence.  We'd find out later the guy is a pretty popular actor.
The Finnish guys doing what we did most of the day: hang around bored.
  We were ushered back to the drained pool area and given lunch and sat on the lawn looking at the nearby beach.  Not a hard day's work by any means.  After about three hours, we got restless and went inside to catch them filming some bar scene.  There were like 50 people running around with the lighting and sound equipment, a gal was primping the star's hair (he had quite the hair do) and people buzzing about. I caught one guy in a Minnesota Vikings hat, and when I asked him later where he got it, he smiled and ran off. 

They finally called us to dinner, and just as we started eating told us we had to hurry inside for our scene.  We got onto the next bar set and there was nothing set up anyway.  So more sitting around and waiting.  There were about 10 of us total - two Finnish guys, one with the deepest voice in the world, a nice Aussie gal, an Israeli couple, a smelly Swiss guy, a lunatic from England, another fella from England trying to help the lunatic, and a local travel agent who looks "western" due to his hair. 

They got the room set up, and at first I thought I had a good chance of being right in the shot as I was seated at a table right behind the table where the action was to be.  However, last minute they asked me to pull up and sit at the bar and act like I was ordering a drink.  I laughed to myself thinking, this won't require much acting on my part.  As it turned out, I was at the bar directly behind the star of the show, so after the first scene, I had to be in the next scene since they were doing a close up of him.  I joked with the guy at the bar next to me how this would be the most critical scene in the film - the sliding of the money packet across the table.  No, really, they spent a great deal of time making sure the guy slid it over at the right speed and angle.  Anyway, the other extras said you could catch a glimpse of my hair in that scene.  Joy!  Then they needed people to walk by the door to the bar (for the other guy's close up) and had me put on my scarf over my shoulders (so I looked a little different) and I rounded out the day with a walk. 

We finished about 11 p.m. and were exhausted from all the nothingness of the day.  We got paid 500 rupees (about 12 bucks), but they made us take rickshaws and the train back and pay out of our own pockets.  Not very glamorous.

So that was my big Bollywood break through.  Ha!  It was fun to see what goes on behind the scenes of these things.  Unfortunately this flick has none of the typical Bollywood song and dance.  It is about to wrap filming and will be out soon, called Jannat.  We'll see if my hair makes its debut or lands on the cutting room floor!

This afternoon I am off to Udaipur (on yet another overnight train) for the start of my northern Indian tour.  But first, I plan to just walk around the streets of Mumbai for the first time.  I do like this city.
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Grooming between takes - the guy o…
Grooming between takes - the guy …
Director on left and some other ac…
Director on left and some other a…
The Finnish guys doing what we did…
The Finnish guys doing what we di…
photo by: vvicy1