Trying out the life a Bollywood actor
At 8AM sharp, the casting agent came to pick us up at our hotel, and was eager like us to get started with the long day we had ahead of us. He had not explained much about the job the day before, so we were really curious what the day would bring.
When arriving at the filming location we were introduced to the other actors and the acting job over a breakfast buffet. The other actors were British, Indian and Russians who had been travelling all over India doing acting jobs. There were also four Swedish, one French and two Italians who also were tourists, and had gotten just as little information as we had. We were then told that the acting job was for a rice commercial, where the main actors would play in a bank robbery that was supposed to happen in London,. During their crime, the robbers would discover a rice ad, saying that buying a pack of rice, would give you a ticket for a million-rupee lottery. The robbers would then put down their guns, and go to buy rice instead.
Elise and two of the Swedish girls, were told to be stand by actors in case they needed more people in the scenes, but during the whole commercial they only used six of us to fill all the different roles of background people, just dressing us up with new clothes for the different scenes. It felt strange that they filmed close up pictures of me (JB) as the boyfriend of one of the Swedish girls, and afterwards filming us in totally different roles just after a small change of clothes. We thought it must have been obvious that it was the same people all over again, but this did not seem to matter much to the director. We had been told earlier that for the Indians, we “white” people looked all the same, so this was not something people would think about when watching the commercial. The work around the scenes felt very disorganized and hectic, with people running, yelling, sleeping and waiting, but somehow they got everything set up just right, only minutes before the filming took place.
It was pretty exhausting being bossed around for twelve hours, and told to do things just a little bit different in the same scene (walk faster, walk slower, look over your shoulder, turn around when you look etc), but they treated us well in between the acting, serving hot chai(Indian tea), water and plenty of delicious food.
After a long days work, we were offered another acting job at a shopping center during the same night, and then again in a movie the next day. It might have been because we did not complain about the working conditions, and the extremely low payment (500rupees/60NOK), but we kindly said no, as we were planning on traveling south to Goa the next day.