Thursday, May 24, 2007

Feels like a Holiday

It's been a beautiful week in London -- so rather than going to the gym (the first day I've gone this week) I decided to go for a walk to Regent's Park instead, since it's only a 10 minute walk away from the flat.

I swear, it felt like the whole world was sitting outside in a pub tonight. I kept seeing glasses of wine on tables of restaurants, and hearing laughter of people standing around in pubs. But surprisingly, I wasn't longing for it myself ... I think it's because today was (Mashallah, knock on wood) a good day at work -- no major crises, issues, etc. And I came back home with enough energy to work out, so that definitely made me feel good about myself.

Ok, I'm going to try to go to sleep by 11pm tonight.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Rushes

I was only on set for a few hours today (our second day of shooting). I've realized that my time on set, though useful in solving people's minute-to-minute issues, is not optimized. Arriving back at the office, I had 28 emails requiring immediate attention -- most of these emails contain documents of deal memos/budget quotes/breakdowns and take forever for each one.

So, needless to say, I was swamped when I got into the office. But it was nice to be in a quiet office, versus being on set where I was battling all day with various departments who kept insisting that it was required by law to have a medic on set, vs. other departments swearing that they got legal council and it's not required ... It was maddening.

I hadn't seen any of the shooting from the day before, bc I was busy coordinating a stills photo shoot for the principle actors (Naseeruddin Shah, Greta Scacchi, and two other actors). I came into the office and asked our editor Sanjeev how the rushes looked from the day before. 'Rushes' are the footage of what was shot the day before -- they don't have sound though. Sanjeev asks me 'Did you purposely keep this guy out of frame?' I frowned -- 'No -- show me.' I looked at the shots, and everything on the left side of the frame was cut out. In some shots it didn't show as much , but in other shots, heads and bodies were literally cut out of frame. I immediately sent Sanjeev to set with his Beta machine and monitor to show Jag the problem.

3 hours of confusion ensued -- was this a lab telecine issue? Should we print all 4000 feet that we shot yesterday (an £800 cost)? It was 5 minutes to when they closed -- we waited literally till the last minute to find out if there was any new information available to us to make this decision. Finally -- we found out that the grain glass for the camera was for a Super 35mm camera -- whereas we're shooting on 35mm. What that translates to is -- our framing guidelines were incorrect for the entire 1 1/2 days that we had shot so far. So everything was framed wrong, and that explained why things were cut off on the left side. (I would need to draw a diagram to be able to explain exactly what the 35/super35 difference means, but my blogging skills are severly limited -- and I just don't have the time).

The 80 person crew sat around for the next 2 hours, as they waited for the correct grain glass to be delivered to set (rush hour in Central London). Myself and our producer Arun sat in the office, wondering what this would cost us if everything had to be re-shot -- was this even possible given all the logistical constraints? Only until Jag arrived into the office after we wrapped our shoot, a few hours later, and watched all the rushes, were we able to assess what damage had been done. Lucky for us, it wasn't detrimental -- only about 4 shots needed to be retaken. Tomorrow we will watch today's rushes, and again assess what will need to be re-shot.

Amidst all this chaos, my friend Shaun came to visit me at the office. I think I barely spoke a couple of sentences with him ... he understood though and happily used our free internet and left.

So that was day 2 of 42!

Monday, May 21, 2007

D-Day

Tomorrow we begin our 7 week, 42 day shoot. The last two weeks leading upto this day have been absolute madness. In any given day, there are 20 absolutely urgent issues that need to be solved/taken care of at the same time -- you start concentrating on one, and you forget the others -- only to get an urget phone call/email from the person waiting on the other end for the answer to their query.

All our crew arrived this evening, along with our lead actor, Naseeruddin Shah.

******* And then I never completed this post *******

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Being an Aunt


It's funny that now that the didi's around me are having children, I find myself put in more positions of a 'responsible adult.' Like the time that Shilpa didi thought it would be OK if myself and King took Simran to the beach. I was so skeptical about the whole thing -- what if she started crying? It turned out to be a wonderful experience -- Simran was on her best behaviour, and it was the bonding experience that we all had hoped it would be. But at the time that I was struggling to put on Simran's car seat, all the while buttoning up her jacket and handing her the car toy to keep her amused ... I was wondering how Shilpa didi could possibly think that I could handle this.

Similarly, when I when to Mamta didi's house for dinner on Friday night. I was seeing Iain after a whole year. Needless to say he didn't remember me -- though he did know that I was the one having a wedding on '2nd of Septembah ... my birfday.' I really can't write out his London accent -- but cute is an understatement.

So Iain asked Mamta didi if I could put him to bed. I looked at didi -- skeptical, as always. What do you do to put a kid to sleep?? She didn't think it was a big deal. "Just make sure he takes a wee, brushes his teeth, get him a cuddly toy, then you read him a story, and sing him a song." It all sounded very complicated to me. "He'll guide you through it."

And guide me he did. Iain has exceptional language skills for a 4.5 year old (because I know sooo many 4 year olds). He not only speaks and comprehends completely -- but is able to express complex, multi-layered thoughts.

The bathroom wasn't so difficult, since Iain knew what he was doing on the loo, as well as which one was his toothbrush and toothpaste. He kept chatting the whole while brushing, so I had to remind him to brush and not talk at the same time. When I filled his cup half-way with water for him to rinse, I didn't expect he would keep sipping and rinsing until the glass was done -- it was about 10 rinses.

Next was choosing a cuddly toy. He found one that he wanted, but it was on Mamta didi's bed. 'I can't take it because it's my mum's, and I haven't asked her.' So we headed downstairs to ask if we could borrow the cuddly toy for the night.

Finally we made it to his bedroom. He chose a story book in English for me to read, and informed me 'We can read 1 or 2 stories from it.' He knew all the stories by heart, but still enjoyed them as if it was the first time he was ever hearing them. It's funny how kids love repetition -- I remember how many times we watched 'Love Story' and 'Karz' in one summer. Looking back at it, it's totally absurd, but it seems like pretty natural behaviour for a kid.

When Iain was in the mood for a third story, I had to tell him it was enough stories for one night ... I was still stressing out abt what song I was going to sing him. "Ok ... you can read me the other stories tomorrow. You're here tomorrow, right?" I told him I might be back next week. "Do you stay far?" I told him I lived in America, which meant nothing to him. I asked if he had ever been in a plane before, and he nodded. I explained that it would take 10 hrs to get in my house if you sat in a plane. He shook his head and let out a sigh, "I can't do that. It's too much."

I told Iain that I didn't know any songs. So he volunteered to teach me the one song that always puts him to sleep. Of course I didn't understand it, and there was no chance of learning it. I told him that I only knew songs in Hindi, and he was happy to hear that. I couldn't think of any kiddie songs, so just sang something that I thought had mellow notes -- Baahon mein chale aao. I guess he liked it, because he told me 'Whenever you have to sing a song for me, sing that song, ok?'

Five minutes later, he was asleep. Mission accomplished!! I waited a few minutes before walking across the creaking wood floor and downstairs to join the others. Again, like last time, I was happy that didi had put me in a situation which I would normally deem out of my comfort zone -- but gave me the opportunity to bond with my niece/nephew.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Desperate on a Dry Day


After a red eye flight, I landed into Bombay at 10am, and went from one place to the next. I was in Bombay to sort out cast and crew visas ... contrary to the what the travel agency had presented to me, it wasn't as simple as it seemed. And I was set on leaving for Chennai the next morning because I needed to be there for the final mix of my film 'Telling Lies.'
After all the work, my dad and I went out to dinner (I made him join me in Bombay bc I was feeling lonely). We reached this restaurant, desperate for a glass of wine, only to find out it was a DRY day in Bombay. My dad almost threw a tantrum. I sucked it up and made the most of the evening.
I called up Udayan afterwards, bc I knew he was in Bombay too. We made plans to meet up at my hotel (Holiday Inn) after dinner. When he arrived, he informed me that the hotel bar had a sign that said 'Alcohol to be served to foreign passport holders only.' Lucky for us, Udayan carried a photocopy of his passport in his wallet ... lol. So I grabbed my passport, and we went to the bar at the hotel next door (Sun 'N Sand).
And then the night began ... Udayan and I hadn't seen each other in months ... we couldn't even remember when was the last time we had seen eachother. So we had a lot to catch up on. And as the drinks kept coming (we had 3 at the first bar), the night seemed like it was only beginning.

At 1am, we had to find ourselves a new bar, since we were getting kicked out. We went to the JW Marriot (5 min rickshaw ride away) only to find their bar was closed too. So we came back to my hotel -- and that bar was closed to. The only solution was room services, which was the only place they would serve alcohol. But my dad was sound asleep in my room ... so we ordered the room service from the lobby, and waited in the hallway in front of my room till the drinks came. Udayan got 'laalchi' at this point, and made us order 2 little bottles of alcohol on top of our two drinks ... btw -- Udayan will do JHOOTHA now!! I had to see it to believe it ... and this was even before he was drunk.
So we had our drink ... and headed out in the auto rickshaw to JW Marriott again! This time to eat ... bad food ... Udayan and I parked ourselves on a furry couch at one point and kept taking self taken photographs, none of which we like, and sadly, I think I deleted them all bc we kept finding faults in them (mainly 'I look fat').
At 4am, we finally called it a night. I had to wake up at 7am to catch a flt to Chennai and go straight to work from there ... and Udayan had a crazy day of walking through slums, taking the local train (which is a life threatening experience, no joke), and whatever else it is that he does with his time.

All in all ... it was a lot of fun. I would say it was one of the best times I've had with Udayan ... barring maybe our classic 'Udayan and Antara's Day of Fun' that was never repeated after the first time. But you know ... there was alcohol involved in this night, so all the more interesting!