I was lucky enough to be a member of the volunteer team at Food Blogger Connect 2015. One of the street feeders keeping the bloggers occupied was the lovely GLORIOUS! team who were launching new flavours of their warming soup creations. The soups were much needed as the whole event was outdoors, and although we were blessed with September sun, it was cold, especially as the sun went down. When I found out they were getting together with Foodie100 to offer a trip to Mumbai to a winning blogger, I had to get involved. I tasted their new Mumbai Lentil and Chickpea soup at the conference, and I had to look no further than that soup to inspire a blog post about Mumbai. And I have just the story. This blog post is my entry into the Foodies100/GLORIOUS! soup #GloriousAdventures blogger challenge. For reasons that will become obvious, the photographs are not really related to the story!
Seven years ago my friend and I were in a Bollywood film with Kylie Minogue. The film was called Blue and the setting was a night club in the Caribbean. I have no photographic evidence – smartphones were unheard of back then and anyway we weren’t allowed to take photographs. All I have are memories. And seeing as they cut us out of the final film, sometimes I wonder whether it really happened.
It started the day before when we were approached by a film scout near our hostel. They told us they needed white girls to feature in a Bollywood film they were filming over the next few days. We signed up immediately without a second thought. What a great story we would have to tell. We had read in our guidebook that it very occasionally happens, and had met a girl at the hostel who had been filming a gangster shoot out scene the day before. So we were feeling quite smug when we sauntered back to the hostel and announced to all the other mere backpackers that we were about to embark on a new career as Bollywood film extras.
We were quickly brought down to Earth when we found out that practically everyone else at the hostel had been invited to not only be extras in a Bollywood film, but feature in a music video with Kylie Minogue. We were green with envy. Never mind, we comforted ourselves, we’ll be getting the REAL deal – no Kylie Minogue but a real Bollywood film with real Bollywood actors on a real Bollywood set.
We got up bright and early the next morning and made our way to the meeting point … only to find we were in a procession with everyone else in the hostel. It turns out we WERE in the Kylie Minogue music video – our scout had neglected to tell us this important piece of information.
We were all in high spirits as we made our way to ‘Filem’ Studios in the coach. We were a motley crew – seeing as most of us had been on the road for months by that point, we were in various states of scruffiness. We were supposed to have brought along ‘fancy’ clubbing clothes but one does not simply carry fancy clothes while backpacking in India. It would weigh one down.
Just when we were starting to get bored of the journey and wishing we’d decided to spend our last day in Mumbai sightseeing, the coach swayed dangerously to the left and screeched to a halt. There was smoke streaming out of the bonnet. The air was full of the smell of burning rubber. We tumbled out onto the side of the highway, the Bollywood dream starting to slip away from us.
‘No problem,’ said the film scout. ‘We’ll take autorickshaws.’
I kid you not, he spent the next 35 minutes hailing every passing autorickshaw and stuffing us into them. Two hours after we set out from the hostel we arrived at ‘Filem’ Studios.
The rest of the day passed in a blur as we spent most of it hanging around waiting for hair (I was treated to a very tight French plait), makeup (we were all made up exactly the same with bright red lipstick and cheeks) and dress (by the time I made it to the front of the queue all they had left for me was a sparkly sequined green corset and a wrap around Thai skirt. Very glam.). By the end of it we looked less like happy clubbers and more like desperate prostitutes in the less salubrious areas of Amsterdam. It was AGES before we got on set and AGES more before we saw Kylie. In the meantime we were hot, hungry and thirsty – they forgot to feed and water us which is no small thing in Mumbai in March.
But seven years later, here are the most important lessons I learnt from the experience:
1.) Kylie Minogue really is that short.
2.) Being in a film involves waiting. A lot of waiting.
3.) Trying to dance enthusiastically to a pop song with the chorus ‘I wanna Chiggy Wiggy witchoo. I wanna Chiggy Wiggy witchoo, boy’ is really hard when you’ve not had a stiff drink and have been standing around for six hours beforehand.
4.) It takes six hours to film 20 seconds of a song for a music video.
5.) Being an extra on a Bollywood film is a BRILLIANT way to spend a day in Mumbai. They pay you Rs500 for the privilege (equivalent to a night’s accommodation in the sort of cheap hotels we were staying in at the time). But be prepared to wonder about your sanity while hanging around.
What’s that? You want to know how the song turned out? Oh all right then, here it is: