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Hair, lights, action! on the Nottingham set of new Bollywood film

8th August 2011

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Shahid Kapoor is doing his hair. With a concentrated look, the Bollywood actor changes tiny parts of his messy coiffure. The man holding up his mirror looks at him with the intensity of a painter, a makeup brush put behind his ear. The cameraman holds his camera on his shoulder, light men wait in the shadows. Around them, dozens of extras hold their breaths. ‘Silence!’ roars the production leader.’ Done?  Ok, stand still, clapper, background action, and….action!’

The Nottingham students who work as an extra on the new Bollywood movie shooting in town get a very close look of the action. The movie, working title Teri Meri Kahani (‘Our Story’), has already finished work in London and is now being filmed in different locations on Nottingham University campus, including Hallward Library and the Trent building. Other places around the city are also used, with today’s location being a hotel in Long Eaton.

Because of the last-minute working style of the Indian crew, dozens of extras had to be drummed up in a few days, through friends and Facebook. Today, they are students in a college bar, having to mime animated conversation and point and laugh at green screens. The scene is a short one, but has to be shot from many angles. Apart from some fraternization with the extras over the pool table, the Indian crew minds their own business, constantly changing props and lights for the perfect picture.

As the actors debate with the director (‘It just doesn’t feel right!’) and the crew gets agitated about the lighting (‘Use your bloody brains!’) some of the extras adopt a world-weary look. A few of them have spent the first five hours waiting in the parking lot, or on a little spot of grass dubbed ‘extras holding pen’ in front of the bar. They are mostly British, to give the movie an international look, and whereas there are rumours that the actors are famous, few have heard of them before. ‘Is it time for lunch yet?’ ‘Silence! One more take.’

Meanwhile, back in India the developments in England are followed closely. Half a million Twitter followers could read the Kapoor’s comments on the beginning of the shoot in London, and paparazzi pictures of last week have already materialized. The movie is supposed to be a comeback project for director Kunal Kohli after some less successful ventures. Main actress Priyanka Chopra is a former Miss World who is one of the best-paid actresses in Bollywood, currently filming several movies in back-to-back schedules. Shahid Kapoor is an up-and-coming actor, nominated for several Filmfare awards. Unsurprisingly, his advertising activities include a shampoo commercial.

Teri Meri Kehani will be shooting in and around Nottingham until the 13th August, and will reportedly also move to Leeds and Coventry. When Nottingham can be seen on the silver screen is still unknown.

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