Friday, November 30, 2007

Bolly Blog 29 - Kukatpally Day Two


Second day of shooting in the Kukatpally Housing area...and I can't get enough of this world or it's people...




We shot at a video store in the area and caused quite a stir...so much kaos that the other shop owners were complaining about losing business. So what's a responsible producer to do?...

Buy a watch of course! For a great price of 150 Rupees and I am happy to report it's still working!!!

The crew has some fun with our little boys....


We are also getting some set visits from family members (it's the only way to see some of our crew since we are working such long hours!) Prabhakar's little daughter visits her daddy....

and her Uncles!!!


Oh and I bet you are wondering about that black dot...It's to ward off evil and for protection.

In India the evil eye, is called "drishti." The use of kumkum ( a black powder) on cheeks of babies is a method of thwarting the "evil eye." Toddlers and young children are traditionally regarded as perfect so especially likely to attract the evil eye. Often mothers will apply kohl around their children's eyes to make their beauty imperfect and thus reduce their susceptibility to the evil eye. Young children often also have large black dots drawn onto their foreheads in order to counter the evil eye. you see many children here with the black dots on their faces. I think it's kind of like putting a St. Christoper metal on a baby...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bolly Blog 28 - Vivek Mushran


Another fine actor from India who has a large role in "The Family Picture" is Vivek Mushran. He plays Ravi's father - and is quite funny in the film.

Vivek hails from Uttar Pardesh in North India. He got into acting when he went to college in Bombay. His big break came right out of college when he was cast in the film Saudagar

Vivek played the young teenage protagonist, in a classic Romeo and Juliet tale...

Vivek then went on to do "Fairy Tale Generation" a television show that he appeared on for 6 years. He played a widowed father whose daughter wants him to marry a fairy. Making a television show in India is very different - Vivek shot 52 episodes a year, shooting an episode in 2-3 days. He says the there is never anytime off but the steady paycheck is great!

Vivek works with Uma and Raj...

Vivek was recommended to Uma by a another film director in India. When I asked him about the differences in shooting our film from the typical Bollywood film, he said that he is pleased that he doesn't have to dance in our movie, that Indian audiences expect songs and dances and that is part of the job for a Bollywood actor...

Vivek also thinks that being an actor is the best job in the world. "People recognize you and they smile and you get a nice table at the restaurant. An "employed" actor's life is a very good life"...Sounds like actors in India go through the same struggles as actors in America, wondering when the next job will come...

Vivek tells me that comic acting and comedies are just taking off in India. Pure comedy movies without any songs would never do well, he says, but recently they are doing better, "There used to be 5-6 songs in an average Bollywood fim, now the average movie has as little 2-3 songs and story and characters are becoming more important.

Vivek goes on to say that the new Multi-plex theaters in India are aiming at slightly better off people and so the quality of films are getting better. "Indian movies will always have some songs as it's part of our culture." Vivek also says that he would love to come and "Kick Ass" in America..."

Take a look at a scene from Vivek's first film - This is a song sequence that Vivek was talking about...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bolly Blog 27 - Where the streets have no name...

We are on the streets of Hyderabad almost every day at this point, which is hard on the crew as we try to keep up the energy and get this film finished...
Dedicated crew members watch the action...

Aravind and "Mustache Man" (the bad guy of our film) have some fun...

Here I am with Sashi and one of our favorite little guys. "TOO HARD" is his nick-name because he shouts that line in the film...

When we are on the streets, kids follow us where ever we go and I can't resist snapping their pictures....



We also spent a couple of days in the area known as Kukatpally Housing Board This is the largest housing project in Asia, kind of an incredible place with amazing people...

The crowds are huge in this area with hundreds of people watching us shoot sometimes!

We don't have trailers, so we just set up on the streets. Uma having his breakfast before shooting...

Our costume department sets up where ever there is power. Here they are sewing in a little open air market...

Which also acts as our dressing room....Teja gets ready in public!

Aravind takes his afternoon coffee break, something he did every single day. (so civlized!)

On this day the kids just keep comin!


Aravind got candy for me to distribute to the kids...and look what happened!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bolly Blog 26 - our fearless leader Umakanth


I think it's time I told you a little about our writer/director, Umakanth Thumrugoti.

Uma has worked for 14 years in the feature animation at Disney. He has held a variety of positions there, including Technical Director, Sequence Supervisor and Look Development/Lighting Supervisor. The films that Uma has worked on for Disney include Pocohantas, Fantasia 2000, Treasure Planet and Chicken Little. Uma also spent 2 years in visual development for Disney, working on future animation projects.

So how did Uma get from India to where he is today? Uma spent his later teen years in Hyderabad, where we have been shooting this film but he also spent some formative years in a village called Bhongir. We went to visit Uma's village where he lived as a young boy. It was about an hour ½ from Hyderabad and I loved getting out of the city to see rural India..

The streets of Bhongir...

Uma took us back to his school...

This is Uma in his old classroom...

A very simple space with just some benches.

These are some of the current students in Uma's school...

(Can't you picture Uma in these cute uniforms!)

Uma told me that he was always drawing and making up stories when he was a child here in this village. He also would go to the local movie theater to watch movies as often as possible.

His active imagination and sense of adventure included a daily visit to Bhongir Fort which is high above his village. Uma took Derth and I to visit and it was quite specatacular. This is the view of the fort from Uma's old house...

We then made quite a rugged climb up the hill...

and here I am on the trek up to the fort...

I loved the feeling up there - on top of the world!!
Finally we get close...

The interior was beautiful...

Uma and I inside the fort...

He told us stories about his childhood while up there on top of the world and it was so clear to me why he is making this film. He paints a beautiful picture of his childhood in India and many of his memories make it into "The Family Picture." It was quite a magical day!

Good Times Uma, Thanks!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bolly Blog 25 - Get On The Bus!!


Well, we've gotten to the part of our schedule where we are on the streets of Hyderbad. On this day we have rented a public bus to shoot scenes with the film critic (Joe) and Ravi. It was a complicated rigging with the camera...The camera is put on straps and hung because of the uneven Hyderbad roads...the theory being both the image you are photographing and the camera bounce a the same time...Derth adjusts camera...
While Uma works with some of the kids in the scene...While Joe and Teja rehearse their lines...
The swingin' camera captures the scene...
we also used crew as bus passengers...Huma the costumer takin' a ride!

All set to go - Srini makes the final arrangements for our cross town ride...
Good times, thanks to careful planning by our crack team of production managers!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Bolly Blog 24 - Ayesha Jaleel


This woman in the fabulous Leopard Print Sari is Ayesha Jaleel, who plays Hamid's mother in "The Family Picture." Ayesh has a long career here in Hyderbad films, often playing a mother.

In this film Ayesha is the rich and proud mother of Hamid, who is trying to marry off her niece, but complications ensue...

Ayesha was a delight to work with and she was Derth's favorite actress on the set!

Ayesha was one of the first actors to dub her performance after she finished shooting. We had to quickly get it done because she was on her way out of town. (Much more on that below!) Actors here dub their entire performance after they shoot because it's impossible to shoot sync sound in India. It was amazing to watch a pro like Ayesha do her thing in the dubbing room.

Uma and Deepti work with the sound recordest as Ayesha dubs.

Ayesha recreates her fine performance in the dubbing room.

The reason we had to quickly finish with Ayesha was because she was about to embark on a spiritual pilgrimage called Hajj. Check out this picture...

Each one of of those white and black specs are people!

Hajj is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world, an obligation that must be carried out by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so, at least once in their lifetime. It is the demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God. An estimated two million pilgrims participate in this annual pilgrimage...that's right...as we speak Ayesha is with 2 Million people on her Hajj.

Because of the large numbers of people there are many Incidents of pilgrims being trampled in the crush, and ramps collapsing under the weight of the many visitors, causing hundreds of deaths. So Ayesha asked us to pray for her as she makes her pilgrimage...

Over the course of two weeks Ayesha will be walking the path of her former spiritual leaders, a grueling 8-9 day event with different customs performed each day. It's a fascinating journey that you can read more about HERE

We wish you all joy and a safe journey Ayesha!