11.11.2010 - 11.11.2010
We woke up early with stars in our eyes! Today we were going to make our movie debut!! Today, we were going to Bollywood!!
We sat on the pavement outside McDonald’s waiting for our movie career to begin. We’re going to be movie stars!
As the bus pulled up I was a little disappointed, I was expecting a limo, or at very least one of those huge motor homes with the expanding sides. In reality it was a dirty old knackered bus with only one headlight and a broken window that had been boarded up. I wasn’t going to let it dampen my spirits. As I climbed aboard I felt like Joss Stone, literally plucked from the gutter and catapulted into the public eye.
Although I know it could be three, or even six months before it happened, I practiced in my head the dinner conversation I would have with Tom Hanks when I went round for tea.
Me: “So Tom, there’s an important question I’d like to ask you. When you do voice over parts like Toy Story, do you bother having a shower and doing your hair, cuz after all, no one’s going to see you?”
Hanks: “ha ha, I can see why you rose to stardom so quickly Dave, that’s a very clever question! And no, I don’t bother showering”
(Wow, what a relief, I didn’t have time to shower today!)
Me: “What are you working on at the moment Tom?”
Hanks: “I’m glad you asked Dave. It’s the reason I invited you to my island here in the South Pacific today. Spielberg and me are directing a film together. It’s going to be the biggest blockbuster of all time; we have a one billion dollar budget. It’s your life story and we want you to play you! Wadaya say?”
Me: “Well, I don’t know Tom, you know I only ever work with one leading lady! I’ll have to see if Sarah’s free to play herself. She’s filming in LA with DeVito and that English chick out of Titanic at the moment!”
Hanks: “That’s fine Dave, we’ll work around you. So, how did you two get discovered anyway?”
Me: “Well Tom, it all happened back in November. Sarah and me were working on a film in Mumbai called Desi Boyz……”
Through some miracle the ancient bus made it to the studios. We, along with 28 others, were herded into the main building past all the huge motor homes with the expanding side.
“Go to wardrobe then report to hair and make-up!” shouted the guy who was obviously in charge of the extras. My costume was a pair of electric blue elasticated jeans (like dads wear to look cool at social events) a satin black shirt and a white jacket. I looked… a dick. Sarah came out in a brown and pink dress with an African savannah scene printed in it, she had giraffes on her ass.
“Ok, hair and make up, go, go, go!” ordered the extras manager. He was now wearing a mini-mic and earpiece. He then mumbled something else, I wasn’t sure if it was to me or into the mic.
“What?” I asked.
“I wasn’t talking to you!” he snapped. Then he held his earpiece and looked away. “No, I mean yes, I am talking to you.”
“You are talking to me?” I asked again confused.
“No, not you!” he said looking at me. He grabbed the mic clipped to his shirt and said, “I’m talking to you!”
A Dutch guy who’d been on our bus was walking by and stopped, “You’re talking to me?”
“NO! I’m not talking to you! Rajiv, I AM talking to you!!”
“He’s not talking to me either, do you think that thing’s switched on?” I said to the Dutch guy, who just shrugged. “This is going to be a long day!”
I asked the make up guy to make me look like a star; instead he simple put a thick layer of foundation over the bags under my eyes. Looking in the mirror, I realised it was the first time in six months that I didn’t have bags under my eyes.
I sat waiting for my free haircut, the secondary reason I’d come today. [Checklist; 1) Become a star. 2) Scrounge a free haircut]
The make up guy squirted me with a water spray, scrapped my hair across into a side parting and patted me on the back, “OK, you’re done! Next!”
The mini-mic guy appeared again, “are you done? Ok, get breakfast! Go, go, go!!”
“Where’s the catering marquee?” I asked.
He pointed at a sagging paste table outside the gent’s toilet. Paper plates held processed cheese sandwiches on economy bread cut into quarters; two per plate. Despite being covered in half a sheet of news paper the bread had dried into the shape of a shallow bowl. I looked at the date on the newspaper; it was three weeks old. I suspected in was more recent then the bread.
“Ok! Eat, eat, go, go! You’re needed on set in five minutes!!”
Mini-mic was starting to do my head in.
I decided to check out the competition. I chatted with the other extras. The guy next to me looked like a blonde Bill Bayley. He had slits for eyes and just giggled at everything I said. “Are you stoned?” I asked. He just giggled some more then dribbled down his chin. I didn’t have to worry about him! The next guy I chatted with had carrot-top ginger hair and was a good six inches taller than me, making him well over 6’ 9”. There’s no doubting he would stand out. I identified him as a possible threat. The third guy that worried me was again as tall as me, he had a massive bone structure to his face making him look like Jaws out of James Bond. I thought it odd that he was wearing a pink dress. I was later advised that ‘he’ was actually a ‘she’ and she was a regular, sometimes doubling as the dance choreographer. Scary!
We were herded onto set. I couldn’t see Sarah but Nat told me she was back in wardrobe arguing about her Africa Savannah dress.
Then the real actors started to arrive. A pretty Indian girl walked on set. I heard three or four people gasp in amazement, including the girl at the side of me. “Who’s that?” I asked.
“Are you joking?” replied the girl, “That’s J###ep ########, she’s the biggest star in India at the moment. She does all the make up ads, all the shampoo ads, the Nescafe ad and all the Coka-cola ads in India!”
“Oh, that’s nice,” I replied, “I’ll keep an eye out for her.”
[Sorry about the ######## but I still didn’t get her name. This showbiz thing was turning out to be harder than it looked]
Next a big muscular guy walked on set. I looked at the girl next to me; she was already wide eyed with both hands over her mouth. I raised a confused eyebrow to her. “That’s R###### #######, he’s taken all the Bollywood awards. He does the Nike ad and the Nivia For Men ad! Oh my God!”
[Sorry, didn’t get his name either. Not all that confident it began with R]
Two more stars arrived; an old dude with a bold head and a ‘tash, and an Indian Tom Jones look alike. The girl’s eyes next to me got wider with each stars arrival. “This is amazing! This film has an all star cast!” she sort of squeaked in a quiet but high-pitched voice. I just wondered what time lunch was; I was starting to get hungry.
Another person entered the set; this person I recognised instantly. I smiled and felt a little start-struck myself. The room lit up; it was Sarah, still wearing the Africa dress. She still makes me feel like that.
Mini-mic instructed us what to do. It was a party scene, when the Tom Jones dude raised his bottle of Champagne we had to raise our glasses and shout ‘cheers’. I was so exited; my first lines. I practiced in my head. “Cheers… cheers… cheers!” The director shouted out some film making mumbo jumbo and the cameras started rolling. I positioned myself just over Tom Jones’ left shoulder and the clapperboard dude shouted, “Desi Boyz; party scene; take one!”
It all happened so quickly but I delivered my lines perfectly! “Cheers!”
The rest of the morning was taken up doing very similar things. Cheers’ing, fake chatting and/or laughing; we even got to walk around. All the things you’d do in the background of a party.
I don’t think the catering marquee was built yet because lunch was still served on the same saggy paste table near the loos. We had rice and grey slop. All the important people like the main actors, directors, lighting crew, labourers, cleaning staff, gardeners, van drivers, taxi drivers and the guy that emptied the bins ate in the ‘other’ catering section that had a choice of six curries, three rices and an array of salads and breads. But I knew it wouldn’t be long before I was eating from their stainless steel serving bowls with a real plate and a proper knife and fork.
Sarah complained that they were treating us like nobodies and herding us round like cattle but I couldn’t see her point.
The afternoon bought more party playing and a lot of waiting around. When the shooting was over we were herded back into wardrobe, had our civilian clothes thrown at us and were herded out the door and back onto the bus. After keeping us waiting on the bus for an hour Mini-mic’s assistant walked down and handed a crisp 500 Rupees note to everyone; our wages for the day.
I enquired if the director had spotted my talent and asked for his number, they told me I didn’t need to ring them, as they would ring me. I was even more confident they made enquiries about me because they’d not even taken my number. They must already know who I am, I thought.
We’d had a laugh throughout the day with a Finish guy called Knut (pronounced Can-oot). So we all went for a beer after with our new showbiz friends. Within two hours all of our wages had been spent on beer in a Mumbai bar. We reminisced on the highlights and lowlights of our day. Knut got a little upset a few times because, in my drunken state, I transposed the letters of his name and kept calling him something else. But it was all in good humour.
That 500 Rupees (each) was the only money Sarah and me have earned in the last six months. So, we’d spent six months earnings on beer in one night and still managed to walk home. I bet the big muscular R##### ##### couldn’t do that!