Mood Piece: A Bollywood Film Shoot in Dubai

Relax! It’s Bollywood’s day out in Dubai

The trick was to find your way in. And it wasn’t easy for many of them so obvious in their work uniforms. They had sneaked out to find what the huge reflectors, the cameras, and the crew were doing in Jumeirah, and they weren’t going to give up easily.
“I promise,” she argued with her friend, both in their mid-30s. “It IS Akshay Kumar. I saw him going inside.” The other looked dejected. How could she miss the Hindi film industry’s dashing action hero? She hopefully looks into the villa – inside which is all the action. Echoed from there, in high-decibel voice: “Action….” Then, a little later: “Cut it.”
Bollywood, the Indian Hindi film industry, had come to Jumeirah, and it was celebrating the glitz it exudes. Youthful glamour as in Shahid Kapoor, who was a few minutes ago seated outside the villa speaking into his mobile phone, forcing another onlooker to naughtily whisper: “Kareena.” Mumbai’s glossies have already earmarked reams of art-paper on his romance with the reigning heroine of the film industry.
A lean man guarded the villa, and he was looking for that mandatory “ATTITUDE” in every one who walked in. If you look in doubt, the gate closes on your face. Or you can coolly go in, dropping the question with total confidence: “Where is Feroze Nadiadwala?” Now, the sentry is all but in attention.
Feroze Nadiadwala is the hero of the whole show. He is the producer of the film but unlike money-bags who sit back on cushy chairs, he is a man at work. He is every where. First he rushes out of the villa to ensure that the Hummer and two Porsches are set in the exact angle for that production photo shoot to come later. Nadiadwala is used to filmmaking – a family legacy.
A little afar, Bheem, the spot boy (a misnomer, Bheem is in his 40s) watches the action nonchalantly. He has been in the industry for the past 23 years. From yesteryear hero Sachin to current sensation Shahid, he has worked with major stars making sure that they get the tea, the food. He likes it in Dubai. It is more peaceful, less crowd to manage. “It is silent here.”
As if on cue, from the entrance of the villa, comes the voice: “Hatto yahan se… (move from here.” One of the unit-members, his bright t-shirt sporting the line, Just Do It, is asking the crowd to disperse. An explanation comes from inside: “Yeh bhi field hai… (This is also field.)”
The crowd shifts but they cannot resist the urge to regroup and peep through the sills of the gate. Now, another self-appointed guard springs to action. He shouts: “Chalo bhai, peeche chalo…yeh kisi ka ghar hai (move back, this is some one’s house).”
To assert that fact, a lady stops her car in front of the gate and says in an exasperated tone: “Look, your people are blocking my way, and it is the second time in ten minutes. What is this?”
She, obviously, doesn’t care much about Bollywood and its stars. Like many other passersby who slowed down their vehicles with a bemused look but drove on.
Inside, there is a whole horde of actors: Akshay Kumar, Paresh Rawal, Asrani, Johnny Lever…they form a line and director Vikram Bhatt is canning a humorous moment from the film. The actors are in flashy costumes; one even sports a weird moustache and wig. The rehearsals and takes bore the onlookers; the stars aren’t harried.
“Shot ready, quiet,” shouts the director. Pin-drop silence. Clapboards open and shut; the unit boy carries a reflector in tune with the camera trolley and the actors mouth their lines, make the right facial expressions – vintage Bollywood ishtyle.
Productions boys supply tea and as the artistes relax, the writer, Neeraj Vohra, springs to action: He repeats the dialogue, gives a twist to the intonation: “Say the dialogue like this…maza ayega… (It will make an impact).” Many heads nod; some laugh. Everything about the set has an almost surreal feel, as if every one plays to a huge gallery.
Back out of the villa into real world again. A bigger crowd has formed and the production team has fished out a huge rope to push them out of the field. Pedestrians are asked to stay out of the rope boundary: “Only for two minutes…,” and then, probably remembering that they are not in India, “Please, brother…”
The production shot is a fun affair: The male heroes have grouped into two, and they are pulling the heroine, Rimi Sen, from either side. The shot is over and the actors move into the villa. They pose for photographs with privileged guests, and one by one, they bid goodbye to the unit.
It has been their day out in Dubai. Outside, despite the darkness, onlookers are jostling for one more look at the stars. It must be feel-good for the actors: Miles away from home and they still are awed. Dubai, they have learnt, is as good as home.
– Rajeev Nair

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