Film Shoot

So our Mumbai tour guide from San Francisco told me last Saturday there is a film shoot for some commercial at one of the better known film studios and they are looking for a bunch of white people to participate. A couple of weeks ago I had met a Scottish teacher-in-training here, who goes to these film shoots all the time, because she actually needs the money. I had also heard that the producers are actually loading those white tourists into a bus and drop them off at the studios.

So I thought, ok, what the hell, why not. Let’s not mention how much I was supposed to get paid, because apparently there’s a good amount of politics around that. Tourists get paid close to nothing, presumably because they do it for fun, or maybe they think they’ll get famous, and I didn’t care about the money either. But some people actually do need the money and rumor has it that there’s a few westerners living in Mumbai who live just off those film shoots.

So I get there at 2:30pm on Saturday. Supposedly, this was to be done by 8pm or so. I didn’t even know exactly what the commercial would be for, and I figured it can’t possibly be for Viagra, so I should be safe. There was a whole bunch of westerners, maybe half of them tourists, the Scottish expat also showed up, and there were a few other regulars like her. So we started waiting. This is a film shoot, after all, and film shoots mean 95% sitting around doing nothing.

On the way to the studio, I had passed a couple of trucks fully loaded with human tower competitors – well, it was also Krishna’s birthday, so from what I gathered, numerous communities sponsor their young strong men (and women, although I didn’t see any) to drive around town, or maybe just in their community on these huge trucks. They are all dressed in uniform t-shirts, usually orange or yellow, and then they have a competition about which group can make the tallest human tower or pyramid. So there were a few 3-4 men tall human towers, of course in the middle of traffic, masses of spectators, drums and music everywhere.

But I passed those guys, after all, I had to do my film shoot, and I had not realized that this the big deal that it apparently was. So we were waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Usually, at some point at these shoots, there is food. But all we got was tea and Coca-Cola. So I was getting a little hungry. And we were waiting and waiting. Outside – it wasn’t exactly hot, but it wasn’t very pleasant either.

Now, apparently, the commercial was supposed to be for ready-made dosi. Ok, so this is going to be a fast-food commercial – now wonder they need a few white people! There’s a whole lot more people in my office here who bring homemade food to work than in NYC (even though our cafeteria here is heavily subsidized), and there is a whole lot more people in my office in NYC who eat fast food on a regular basis – so, really, a fast-food commercial for Indian dosi would be pretty much unthinkable without some white people. In a crap fast-food commercial, white people are of course an absolute must-have and probably the only straw of hope for any credibility whatsoever.

Anyways, so at 6pm or so I head enough. I was done with getting famous in a fast-food commercial, so I left and had some real food. I really should have gone to check out those human pyramids, because I later heard that this was quite the spectacle indeed, and it sure looks like it

On an entirely different note, if there could be a picture today, it would have to be one of that Muslim couple that I saw today, right next to the mall. She was fully dressed in a burkha, standing in front of this guy who was sitting very cool on his motorbike. And they were holding hands, very tenderly, totally in love and obviously sweet talking. I guess the fact that I even noticed it, and think it is worth mentioning, and that I found this scene just very remarkable, just shows how dumbed down and stupid daily western images of Muslims, let alone traditional women in burkhas, have made me already. Either that, or Ksenia has been out of town for too long already, or probably both.

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