chitta chatter

“i see white people”

Posted in being human, film, India, photos by Nancy on January 31, 2010

In case anyone was still wondering if the movie gig would ever pan out, it finally did yesterday. For me, anyway. D couldn’t go because he had already confirmed with his meditation teacher for his final class. Plus, he’s done some extra work before (in Hollywood, not Bollywood) and found it mind-numbingly boring. 1000 rupees wasn’t going to persuade him otherwise. So off I went—along with our friend, Yishai, from the Mandala—to make my film debut.

We were essentially playing ourselves… white tourists. The shoot was at the Mysore Palace (not Lalitha Mahal) and we just had to walk around in the background of the star’s scenes. Whether we stay off the cutting room floor remains to be seen, but there’s a good chance at least one of our scenes will end up in the film.

Being the only white folks on set in a country where white skin is so prized that they openly sell and use skin whitening creams, we got special treatment. It got to be a little weird at times. (Yishai summed it up thusly: “We’re like the dwarf in the dream sequence.”) But we did get to meet and talk with the writer/director (who said his last film won 3 awards at some indie film fest in the US), the cinematographer, the script writer, the producer’s wife, the assistant director and many more… all of whom seemed very aware of our presence and concerned that we were having a good time.

On that front, I wouldn’t say it was mindnumbingly boring… it was cool to see the process and all the detail that goes into getting the shot. And I must say this crew rocked it out. They seemed to be having a great time yet they were clearly working their asses off. And they actually got everything done on schedule. We wrapped at 4:30, as promised. Never would’ve happened in Hollywood. Not the efficiency. Not me being hired as an extra. None of it.

Anyway, the film is called Mani Manjari (no one could translate that for us, but the closest we got was that “mani” means pearl and “manjari” is an affectionate slang term for a woman or for femininity). It’s a family drama, so—to our great dismay—there were no splashy Bollywood dance numbers to look forward to. But the writer/director seemed like a serious dude, so maybe it has some depth to it. And the shots I saw on the monitor looked really cool… a few even Amelie-esque.

No word on the release date, but until then, here are some shots of what went on behind the scenes:

the star in her freak-out moment:

star and director discuss the next scene:

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