This morning at 9.30am we head for film city, 1500 acres of film lot, with existing sets, such as a temple, a village, a mansion, a lake, three islands etc, to sets under construction; to permanent homes for film companies. It also offers some great views of some of the Mumbai skyline.
We see a dance sequence (although not rare in film, apparently now are rare to be done on set and are usually done in a studio with a blue-screen), and in another film, what appears to be a hostage scene. We have good access across the whole of the area, we see the lake and the three islands for example, and the shanty town in which they filmed Slumdog Millionaire. If any reader has watched a film being shot in their street, you will know it consists of a lot of hanging around waiting.
We then visit Trinity Sound Studios, which I think is primarily a dubbing studio. The building it is in houses 25 to 30 similar studios. In Bollywood films, the soundtrack is always completed in advance of the film, and released before the film. The stars of the film generally do not sing, and this role falls to a group known as playback singers, who, in India at least, are as well known as the film stars. What we didn’t know was that 20 to 30 per cent of the dialogue in a film is also dubbed by somebody else! The stars’ schedules just don’t allow them to do all the studio re-records and lip-synching. We hear a new song yet to be released, and the sound engineer gives a demonstration of how the multi-track recording is layered to produce one coherent sound.
We then go for a drive around the stars’ homes – the neo-Georgian mansion seems popular. However, one actor, Kerry’s favorite, has a duplex at the top of a building, with full glass walls for the central part of the living area, offering a perfect view of the staircase and living area – or at least one of them.
At around 2.00pm we head for the Mirador Hotel, which is the first time we experience the ‘mirror under the car’ security. We have an Indian buffet lunch here in a ground floor restaurant called Tangerine. Reader, if you find yourself in Mumbai anytime soon, we recommend the restaurant without hesitation.
Our drive back to our hotel takes around an hour.
A few random observations:
There are no cycle rickshaws in Mumbai.
The auto-rickshaws and the taxis are black with yellow trim, and black with a yellow roof respectively.
Economic rationalism is yet to be deployed in India. We bought some homewares last night. One person helped us with our inquiry, a second took our payment (and dealing with a card had others watching for good measure), and yet a third put our purchase in a bag.
Similarly restaurants. There is a buffet breakfast in our hotel, but someone makes your toast for you. Someone else pours cold milk on your cereal. Someone else makes the instant coffee for you.
At major intersections controlled by traffic lights, one is offered all manner of merchandise. Ranging from that morning’s newspaper, steering wheel covers, towels, to flowers, car window shades, and books.