I received a call from Pres, at 11:00pm on the 10th of September. Already in bed, I listened as he described the need for a 'Geezer' to be at the Bonanza Creek Ranch
Leaving my home in Albuquerque at 10:00am on September 11th, I arrived at the gate of the movie set at 10:45am. Having been on that very same set in June of 2006, it looked somewhat familiar. My first stop was to get OK'd for entrance to the set. After repeating my mission several times to 'the gatekeeper' I was admitted. Driving into our 1800's town used for the Comanche Moon
We had burned the town beyond repair, during 'The Indian raids' (June 06 post in archives) so the empty ground, where once stood the elegant Capital of Austin Texas and the Governors mansion, now seemed so forlorn. The Bullock House and the livery stable where we spent many days in 'extras holding' was still standing. The corner saloon and hotel are no more, only empty dirt. The remaining board sidewalks standing alone are somewhat intact, but showing signs of decay as well as black burned areas on their boards. The old adobe structure and corral is still standing as well as another stuccoed building we used for the sheriff's and rangers office.
The very best action scenes we did in Comanche Moon, were never shown, most likely in the name of 'Political Correctness'. (extreme violence, in the excellent historic book by McMurtry) Too bad because we did some really great stuff.
The filming for Kites is being done in the big old barn used for the interior of the 'governors mansion' set. The same barn, was previously used for the film, Astronaut Farmer
Meeting Pres right away and Kathy soon after, I was turned over to Pooja. One of two Pooja's, both young women, she approved 'my look' and directed me toward the makeup trailer to get dirtied (no one there). I lost her soon after that. Eventually I wandered over toward where several other people seemed to be gathering near the Chow Trailer. Coffee was waiting along with a few commercially packaged danish rolls. I determined quite quickly that this was a low budget film. The caterer was 'Weekdays' out of Albuquerque. Mathew and Josh greeted me while the chef prepared a tomato and noodle fare for our later afternoon meal.
I met Shay who worked in some film production herself, and had an extensive background in the silicone valley era of the dot Coms, along with a history of modeling in the past. Roman, a Vietnam vet Huey gunner, was to work with us later. He has been actively working 'on set' for 4 days of 'Kites' so we relied on him for info as to what was going on. For the most part, the crew spoke a common Indian language Hindi
My first scene involvement was in the big old barn with three stolen new cars, loaded on an auto transport trailer. I apparently was either the driver of the truck pulling the trailer or had delivered a stolen car. The cash was counted out by Roman wearing a black and white leaf print shirt, then handed over to me wearing a patch approved by Pres, over my left eye, while Shay accompanied Roman toward the last car on the trailer. We repeated that scene about five times while Kangana Ranaut, following Hrithic and Barbara, walked along the raised railing along side and entering the 2nd car as a driver.
When a 'bounced light' effect was needed, a 4 X 8 foot (1.2 X 2.4 M) sheet of white Styrofoam insulation board was placed strategically. In the higher budget films I have worked, a large professional, aluminum framed fabric, 'Ultra Bounce' did the light effect. The Styrofoam boards being used in these films, tend to degrade over multiple use, so little chunks and beads of Styrofoam are often stuck to everything including people nearby. As the boards break and get smaller and smaller, purposely or by accident, they are used in tight closeup scenes to reflect light to the stars faces. The bright 4 K (watts) lights are used sparingly so this may be a, darker than expected, film? No time was wasted with this production. We were kept busy at all times, unlike Union productions here in the USA. The entire crew shared dutys for unmatched efficiency. Maybe more Bollywood films will be shot here?
Break time, Pres set up coffee and tea for us, while the cameras were repositioned for the next shoot. This was the first time we got to see the Stars up close. Hrithic Roshan
Lunch call brought it to a halt, the crew went forward first. We followed to the catering trailer and some tables set up nearby. The fare was a fried Tillapia and also marinated chicken with a rice base and corn, along with the tomato and noodle mix well seasoned in Curry. This is a 'Bollywood' film and crew, Curry is expected. Pretty tasty chow, so I enjoyed it. A salad tray on the trailer, also contained artichoke hearts marinated with oil and spices. A fudge brownie, a banana pudding and nut toppings along with the nice Medool dates often present in the middle eastern style fare. Of course lots of coffee and tea bags available.
While waiting for the next scene, I met Tom. As we talked, he mentioned also working on Comanche Moon as an Indian rider coming over the hills bareback. He worked several scenes with the Blackfeet Indians from Montana. Tom, also a Vietnam vet, was retired from the BIA and grew up on the Navajo Reservation along the northwestern border of NM, with Arizona. This 'Blogengeezer' also worked the Res for many years as a Tech. We both recalled the 'old ways' of the tribal people.
After lunch, a truck with stake body side rails, and a lift gate, was prepared for several of us. Loaded into position with the cameraman forward in the corner and his assistants around him, we were finally joined by Hrithic and Barbara. She wore a terry cloth towel outfit while waiting for the scene to shoot. Taking it off revealed a very thin, tight body with long slender legs and a flat stomach as you would expect a star to have.
Hrithic Roshan and Barbara Mori, sat just opposite me in the back of the truck bed. I watched intently as they positioned themselves with our feet intertwined. Hrithic Roshan wore a slightly soiled white shirt, opened to reveal his chest, and jeans that looked as if they had not been washed in months. The wrinkles in the denim behind his knees, were pressed into a faded pattern, giving an appearance of accordion pleats. His legs and waist were slender and his arms were 'pumped' from 'resistance' training. He is broad shouldered, tall and has the mouth and lip structure of a young, thin Sylvestor Stallone from the 'Rambo' films of years back. Hrithic is not anywhere nearly as muscle bound as 'Rambo' though.
Barbara, sitting between Hrithic's legs and facing me, wore a small white gause arm bandage with a dot of red on her left bicep. Her tight 'very' shorts, revealed her slender legs. She was wearing a contoured tight white blouse, opened down to the middle buttons, not quite as soiled as Hrithic. We all were slightly soiled of course. This life of smuggling and of stealing cars for export is dirty and dangerous. Hrithic and Barbara both, had Hazel colored eyes and long eyelashes befitting a pair of film stars.
Three small children were sitting in the back of the truck with us. Barbara kept them interested in the scene with steady dialog between her and the youngest one, 'Boaz' not quite five? She held him standing close to her for most of the 'takes'. A little bit older girl and boy sat nearby. The scene starts with a quick drive around the entrance road. The camera rolls while the dialog between Barbara and the other passengers begins. We do this scene at a faster and faster pace, each pass with the truck bumping along roughly and the dust rolling out behind. A smaller piece of that Styrofoam was held by us, under the chins of Hrithic and Barbara to catch the reflected natural light. After about six passes we stop, climb out of the back of the truck and wait near the truck while the camera is reset onto a boom crane positioned near the road we had been racing along.
Reloading only those of us that were 'Background', into the truck, it raced around the road several more times until the dusty road scene was what the director wanted. After we finished that last scene, the call came, 'It's a wrap' or whatever they say in Hindi. As Pres directed, we walked to the back of Kathy's SUV for our vouchers accounting for the minimum 8 hours worked. The 45 minute drive back to Albuquerque was in 'Santa Fe rush hour' traffic but not as bad as it sometimes can be. Soon the 'Rail Runner' train that runs in the center media of Hwy I-25, will be in service. Maybe the traffic will be less hectic after that.
As I thought back about this day, I was happy to participate in a far different cultural environment than I normally work. It is a learning experience to see how things are done in another country. We definitely take things in the USA for granted. Our "One Nation Under God" is an amazing movie set in itself. Welcome to America, Bollywood. I hope to work with you again some time.