The film director is directing a scene in which protagonist meets her lover on park bench. I was in Film City, a 500-acre wonderland of fake mansions, poverty-stricken villages, schoolhouses, and police stations on the outskirts of Mumbai, where many of the big-budget Bollywood films are shot. I turn around me to find the actors sits on four plastic chairs stacked on top of each other, their arms bound by packing tape, because he needs a high chair to keep his long legs comfortable. Meanwhile the light technician shutter about setting up lights for the next scene.
In a movie set outside Mumbai. It's after midnight on a sweltering May night. A spectacled man booms commands into a microphone. The camera zooms in on the actor and swirls around a rott-iron bench surrounded by tinsel and fairy lights. A song slowly starts.
Here are some pictures I caught that sweltering May night under the artificial lights.
Scene 1 :
Boy meets girl on park bench [see below]. If you are wondering what happens next - the actress smiles and caresses her legs - while the camera takes a close-up shot. Yes it was very corny.
Behind the Scenes
Director of Photography preps the actor for next scene.
Shot after shot, take after take - an entire of army of men flutter about behind the scenes to etch celluloid with moving images.
From the make-up to the man, tabbing at a large fan - they all play their part.
What one does not realize that the largest component of time spend on a set is that done waiting.
Your usual Bollywood story would go something like this :
Boy from Bombay slums meets girl from suburbs. Girl's family object to boy. Girl is about to be married off but boy murders the groom. Boy is killed during shoot-out. While visiting relatives in Sydney, girl meets boy's identical twin, who has been separated from boy one at birth and raised as a Calcutta yuppie prince.
They fall in love, everyone's family approves. For Bollywood song settings, the boy and girl must change clothes and backdrops at least three times a duet; perm between Delhi campus, British shopping centre, Australian beach, Raja's palace, Swiss Alps, Egyptian pyramids and Scottish mansion. The more mountains the better. The big wedding number is a must. If you can fit in happy villagers celebrating the harvest so much the better.
& the Story Continues
Raju holds up a giant green pipe over a 1960s Hindustan Motor's Baby Hindustan to make it rain. The camera trolley on the other hand moves forward as if to give you the sensation that the car is moving. All tricks of the trade
Scripts, however, are not always considered that important by the directors, who have a tradition of, well, making it up as they go along. Director is helping his actors plug in the story line
It all ends in song and dance and everybody concerned lives happily ever after.
Take a look at my other exploits on a tv soap set for Tehelka.