We have now shot for a total of 65 days beginning on February 2. Most of the days we didn't shoot we were traveling. Finally, with the World Cup behind us, the trip with Sudhir into Bihar done, and the selections of the Mumbai cricket camp for girls completed, we have had some time to stop and reflect.
On looking back I am sure this was one of the most grueling film shoots for most of the guys on our crew. The hardest part of our days, by far, was getting around. On some days, we were out for 14 hours with only 2 hours of actual shooting. Most of the time was spent packed into a car getting from Kandivli to Juhu (our office) and then Juhu to Dadar (Shivaji Park ground) or some other location, and then coming back. There is nothing quite like being stuck in Mumbai traffic taking 3 hours to go 12 kilometers. Unless you're doing that in 100 degree Fahrenheit weather with an AC that stops working when it's hot outside. :) That's right. Stops working when it's hot. When you ask the driver why, he just smiles and gives you the famous Indian circular head nod which provides zero information. Sometimes if you're lucky, he might say "Abhi kya bolega, sir!" or "What can I say, Sir!" Well you could say why this is happening? Or you could just fix it! Sometimes he'd get out and sprinkle water on the hood in a feeble, futile attempt to cool the car, which I suspect he did more to show me he was doing something about the situation than for any actual purpose.
In any case, I digress. The 2nd challenge was getting accurate information either from our characters or from other people around them. You learn to keep your frustration in check and just go with the flow, the very nonsensical, unpredictable flow. On our Bihar trip for instance, I'd be sitting next to the driver asking him in perfect Hindi if he knew where we were going only to elicit NO response. None. Not even a nod. Was he deaf? Mute? No, it turns out he was often just sleepy as we found out when we flew over a speedbump somewhere in rural Jharkhand one night - a speedbump he had missed because he was asleep. "I need chewing tobacco. I'm falling asleep," he grumbled. Nice. You could've told me this before we all almost DIED! Ashwin (our 1st AD) says that the things I said most often on our shoot days were "Nobody knows anything!" OR "Nothing works!" In my defense, I was mostly correct. :)
There is no way we get through production without my mother's help. Had I not had my mom's place to come home to at the end of incredibly long days, I don't think I could have survived. It helped that she is possibly the biggest cricket fan I know and is always excited to hear stories of our adventures.
Also, a quick shout out to Jeremy, who despite having to deal with all of this for the first time in his life, was probably the most energetic of us all. Usually when I was ready to quit towards the end of a tough day, Jeremy was always ready to keep pushing and go to the next location or the next character and shoot something. He was also a great sounding board for me on our long drives home after exhausting shoots. Without his intelligence and endurance this project would have turned out quite different. I only wish he had enjoyed Indian food as much as our other foreign crew. Watching him work slowly on an Idli Sambhar made my heart weep. :) It's OK Jeremy! You're back in the land of burritos and chicken sandwiches.
Well, it's not over yet. We still have a few things left to shoot. The truth is we could keep shooting for another year and it wouldn't be enough to capture the rich, powerful stories of our characters or the complexities of life and society in India. But you realize you can't do it all in one film. Heck, you can't do it in a series of films or books. So much of what we have seen and experienced will be left on the cutting floor or is simply impossible to capture on a video card.
More later. Some pics from our recent shoot with Yuvraj Singh, the Man of the Tournament of the 2011 World Cup.