Your’s truly is one of select people on the planet who have had the chance to act in the movies, It isn’t like I’m a good actor, I never took part even in school plays. Neither do I have a great personality or good looks, In fact on that day I was looking even more hideous than usual. No shave for 2-3 weeks, overgrown hair looking like matted coils due to sweat and dust and worse. Anyhow, here is the story:
It just happened that we and a few friends from office were on a visit to Khajuraho in late August. We were 5 people, me, Jughead, Betty, Veronica and Archie.Obviously the names have been changed to protect the identities. :p Rainy season is usually an off season for tourists due to rains and the fact the nearby Panna National Park is closed. So we were able to find a good lodge nearly empty. How it filled up to it’s full capacity just in 2 days is another story, We had a pretty good time there. There is a lot to see and explore in even famous places that no tourist book or show tells you. During first two days we had been to two water-falls Pandav and Raneh, Panna city (not the national park), and Kalinjar. Me and Jughead managed to see some of the temples in Khajuraho on day one while the rest preferred to rest.
So it was decided that we are going to see all the temples together on 3rd day. We woke up early and visited the Jain temples complex. Those particular temples are still being used and have been repaired rather tastelessly by the locals. Only a part of the ancient design is left as some of the temples have been plastered and modified with time. We spent most of our morning there and it was decided that we’ll see rest of the temples in afternoon and catch the train back home in evening. Rst of the temples still retain most of their original design and beauty. Me and Jughead had already seen most of the remaining temples by ourselves, so the rushed schedule didn’t matter much to us.
So we came back to our lodge/hotel for a quick shower and something to eat. As we came back we saw unusual amount of activity going on in the area. On inquiring we were told that crew from local Bundeli movie were staying in a few lodges adjacent to us. I don’t understand much of Bundeli and had even less interest in any movie shoot, so didn’t gave it much thought and got busy with much needed shower and an early lunch.
After shower we were lazing around in one of our lodges. I was sitting on a chair leafing through a tourist guide while rest of group was scattered on the bed and porch. Just then a middle aged gentleman came outside our lodge and politely tried to draw attention. Jughead was standing nearby and I asked him to go check what he wanted. As Jughead went outside the man shook his head and pointed at me. I stood up with a puzzled expression and walked up to him.
” हाँ जी सर ?” ( Yes sir ?)I asked.
The man shook my hand and introduced himself, “मेरा नाम “`कुछ “` है और हम यंहा पे अपनी एक बुन्देली पिक्चर की शूटिंग कर रहे हैं ( My name is “`somehing“` and we are shooting our Bundeli movie here. I’m the director.)
I nodded, looking suitably impressed, waiting for him to go on.
” दरअसल बात ये है की हम ने १ सीन की शूटिंग करनी थी और उसके लिए हमें आपकी मदद चाहिए .
(Actually we have to shoot a scene and we need your help.)
I was carrying my new DSLR around and thought maybe he needed some help with pictures or camera. So I nodded again, ठीक है, बताइये किस तरंह मदद कर सकता हूँ ? (“Alright, so how can I help ?”)
Looking encouraged, he pointed towards the big garden in front of us and said, “आपको बस हमारे लिए एक छोटा सा रोल करना है. हम एक सीन शूट कर रहे हैं जिस में आपने थोड़ी दूर से चल कर आना है और हीरोइन को अपनी बाँहों में उठाना है. हम आपका ज़यादा समय बर्बाद नहीं केंगे. (” We need you to help us by playing a role. We have to shoot a scene here in which you come walking from a distance and pick up the heroine in your arms..We will not waste too much of your time”)
This “offer” was completely unexpected and I was more then surprised. Rest of my friends were within earshot and as I looked towards them, I found them rolling in hysterical laughter trying to say something but all I could hear were their snorts and wheezing.
Before I could say anything, they were upon me grabbing me by arms, neck, hair..anything hat they could lay their grimy paws upon and were like, “ये क्या करेगा ? सीन क्या है ? हीरोइन कौन है .. इत्यादी ( “What’ll he do ? What’s the scene, who is heroine..etc etc.” )
I was like, “चुप करो बेवकूफों ऐसा क्या हो गया ? ( ” Take a break you idiots, what really happened ?” )
They responded with, “हाँ बोल . हाँ बोल. वैसे भी तू किसी बी – गरेड फिल्म के एक्टर जैसा ही लगता है . ( ” Say yes, say yes. You already look like a B-grade movie star. Say yes.”)
I’m told that my facial expressions at that time were even more weirder than usual. The director again said, “कर लीजिये सर. आपका बहुत कम समय लगेगा इस में. ( “Sir please do it. It’ll take just a few minutes of your time.”)
At that time I was reminded of a former room-mate and colleague who is now working in TV serials in Mumbai. Why me ? Why not him ? Call him
Outwardly, I hesitantly nodded in confirmation and found rest of my “friends” again roaring with laughter. We were goofing around with cameras before all this and I found that these people had a sudden new found enthusiasm about getting pictures clicked with me. Talk about getting famous.
Within a few minutes director had called up some of his crew members to help me get ready for the shoot. He started explaining the scene and movie hurriedly. I don’t remember too much of it except that it had something to do with social message but as is the case with most B-grade or regional movies it had a bit of sexual innuendo, double meaning etc. That gave me a pause and even Archie agreed but somehow I was convinced not to say no.
By then the crew had readied their shot and I was called in to the adjacent lodge where they were staying. I found the room decorated like one for suhaagraat (first night of a married couple). Bed was decorated with flowers and dim lights all over. As I turned, a crew guy with a kurta payjama in hand came to me and asked me to change in to it. I changed in to kurta and walked up to the director and asked, ” एक बार फिर बताएँगे की सीन क्या है ? ( ” What was the scene again ? ” )
He stopped whatever he was doing with camera at once and said, ये सीन इस लड़की की शादी की पहली रात का है (” This is the scene of first night of this girls married life.” ) I turned around to see the girl and found that thing that I had at first mistakenly assumed to be a tall lamp covered with cloth was a girl in saaree. Too much excitement, I guess.
आपने इस सीन में बस दरवाज़े से चल कर आना है, इन्हें बाहों में उठाकर बिस्तर पर रख देना है . (“All you have to do in this scene is to walk in through the door, pick her up in your arms and put her on the bed.”)
I was again surprised, ” ये तो सुहाग रात का सीन है (” It’s a wedding night scene !!??” )
By then all of my friends were inside the room laughing, pointing fingers and clicking pictures, except Archie who seemed a bit serious.
Director turned to issue some instructions to some one and said, ” हाँ , पर चिंता मत कीजिये . इस में कुछ भी अश्लील या ऐसा-वैसा नहीं है. हम तो एक सामाजिक सन्देश देने वाली फिल्म बना रहे हैं. आपको इन्हें उठाकर बिस्तर पर रखने के अलावा और कुछ नहीं करना. ( “Of course, but don’t worry. It isn’t vulgar or anything like that. We are making a movie with a social message. You don’t have to do anything except picking her up and putting on bed. That’s all.”
Before that, I was under the impression that the scene was to be shot in the garden with me picking up the girl as they do in movies. This whole wedding night scene was something else entirely. I looked at Archie and he shook his head. He walked up to me and said, “This whole thing looks fishy. They’ll just morph your face on to some porn movie and sell it as a real one.”
I was not thinking on this line exactly but it was even worse, although I didn’t exactly believe it to be true. “Is the morphing thing that bad ?” I thought to myself, but uncharacteristically kept my mouth shut.
But I was not feeling too comfortable about the entire thing and it showed as I looked around the place with a big scowl on face, as if weighing my options. Inside I had no idea about what to do. Turning back after going on for so long just seemed stupid. But then Archie said loudly, “Come on. Don’t do it.”
That’s all encouragement that I needed and I at once took off their kurta and handed it over to some crew member. Or may be it was reluctantly. :D Director tried to convince me otherwise , but I walked out saying something like that we had a totally different idea of what you wanted me to do, or something to that effect. Anyway, I don’t remember much of it. We were getting late for the temple tours and left the hotel soon after. I’m sure that all of the crew, specially that director must have been quite pissed off but I don’t think that I had much choice.
As was expected, this incident has been mentioned quite often in my work place but it had some positive outcomes. Whenever any one there comments about my appearance, long hair, unshaven beard etc, I just mention that unlike them I have received offers for acting in movies. So they’d rather not comment adversely on my looks. However I don’t know how long is this going to work.