Thursday, April 9, 2009

Welcome to Bollywood

Day 394
The Salvation Army hostel serves breakfast at the ridiculous time of 7:30, therefore I was up rather early. After I had finished my rather gross breakfast I headed downstairs. There was a guy hanging out in the lobby who told me that his name was Imran and that he was from Bollywood. My first thought was yea, right, whatever. Then I remembered that Bollywood makes more movies a year than anywhere else in the world and that they often need western extras for scenes set in the US or Europe. He then added that I would get paid 500 rupees ($10) for my time.

I was in a car with some other people going to a commercial shoot when I was switched and told to come back at noon. The needed an even number of people for the first one and I was the odd person out. I tried to use my free time to go to the train station and get my ticket out of Mumbai, but I didn't have my passport on me and would have to come back another time.

At noon I was joined by Russian Sasha and French Gabriele. The set was about 2 hours away and I fell asleep in the cab. I thought that we would never get there. We passed thru some really depressed looking areas as well as by some really glitzy looking malls.

The set was a white washed house that was clearly used over and over again for movies. The three of us sat outside chatting for hours. On occasion someone would yell silence and sometimes a guy would bring us tea. We drank a lot of tea. After about 4 hours of waiting we were moved to a small hill in the backyard. The story was that 2 guys were in the US taking some classes at a college. One of the 2 main characters was meant to come over and say hello to us when he was a bit drunk. They had wanted one of us to hold a camera and do some commentary, like introduce everyone. Gabriele said that he would do it, but they told him that he had too much of and accent and asked if I was comfortable with it. I wasn't at all and told them so. It was going to be hard enough to sit there and act natural. In the end one of the film crew gave the commentary off camera, funny thing was that Gabriele did a better American accent than he did. Sasha had quite a thick accent and was told to just pretend he was sleeping. I was given a laptop to sit with and they put a NY Yankees cap on the ground. They also leaned a skateboard against a tree. At this point we were joined by Deborah from Nigeria. We were all also given Kingfisher (Indian) beer to drink.

It was a bit funny, I don't know of a single campus in the US where you can drink outside. We were also meant to chat casually but it sounded funny with all the different accents. One of the 2 main characters came to say hello to us while acting very drunk (he might have been drunk, he had a lot of beer) and then wake up his friend on a bench. His friend then poured the beer on him. We did this about 6 times and then it was over.

We sat around for a while longer before leaving. We had been promised lunch but hadn't been given any food. I hadn't eaten since breakfast and was famished. We did get our 500 rupees each though.

THe ride back was an adventure. We spent ages in a tuk-tuk and then got onto a train. I've seen pictures of crowded Indian trains before, but it is hard to picture just how crowded they are until you are trying to squeeze in as well. There seemed to be more people hanging out the doors than in the cars. There is a ladies only carriage, but I didn't know where I was going so I stayed with the boys. I was the only woman in the carriage and everyone starred at me. When the train began to slow at stops people would jump off, before it had stopped there were a crowd of people running for the seats. I was happy to get off and into a cab to get back.

I headed to the hotel for a shower and then right back out for dinner. I ran into Gabriele and we went to a traditional place where I was the only girl and you are meant to eat with your hands. After giving it a try I asked for a knife and fork. Around 11pm I headed back to the hostel and quickly fell asleep.

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