Lights! Camera! Action!

As a child I was hooked onto only one thing – movies. I watched movies that were way above my age. But I loved them. I was so dramatic and hyper as a child. I looked at everything through the movie lens. Life, of course, sobered me down. However, I had a dream. I wanted to be an actress. My family came in between and stopped me young, giving various reasons. They, even today, are of the belief that all the people working in the movie industry have no morals and are promiscuous by nature.

When I grew up to realize that the people within my family itself lacked morals and were judgmental of others, after twenty odd years later I finally got down to it. By the industry standards I am too old to make an entry. But luckily nobody could guess my age. After a lot of trying and obstacles I got one ad film. My first ad film. There was not much pay but I liked the work the director had done before this. So I said yes.

I got myself an assistant. Thank god I did. The day started early. It was me, my assistant and a bunch of men in a Winger driving to the outskirts of the city. At first I was like, ” Dammit! I forgot my pepper spray”. But after a while I realized that they were all harmless and even took a safe nap as my sweet assistant watched over me and my stuff.

I was the definition of nervous the previous night and I still felt like stomach had little creatures running around inside. The van went down a 4 feet ditch and onto a rough road to reach the house. I got out and fell flat immediately (not literally). The house was huge and gorgeous. It was the kind I like – traditional and big. It was the kind village heads lived in. We call it the Chettinad style. The house was gorgeous. The wood work, the floor, the pillars and the scent of wood in the air. I fell in love immediately.

We got the best room, with air conditioning, for make up. But as the crew started pouring in the energy of the place went to a high point. All I could see were lights, lights and more lights. The cinematographer was sitting on a mini railway track moving back and forth with his camera. I was like a kid in Disneyland. But my strict assistant forbid me to spend too much time outside as all my energy would be spent.

Finally I met the director and the cinematographer to finalize my costume. Thy were very sweet when it came to the artistes but so hot tempered with the rest of the crew. It was quite funny how they switched from one tone to another in a matter of seconds.

I did not realize that the shoot was going to be this big with so many people. My stomach started making so many somersaults that I could not eat. My assistant on the other hand was stuffing me with food. She even stocked away food for later. Note: Production food is usually very good.

Finally I got into makeup. I got very explicit comments about my large forehead, my perfectly shaped lips etc. I laughed off most of it. I realized that its best to take everything on a light note. Keep your brains and ego out of this scenario. It is the only way you will get out without anything good or bad getting to your head. But the outcome of the makeup was fantastic. From the beast to the beauty, people finally realized that I was the lead model. They scolded me for walking around in an ugly bun and gigantic glasses when I could look this pretty. Well, I did not know the native word for ‘Vanity’ and so spared them the explanation of why I do not believe in overdoing vanity. Instead I did what I have always done best – SMILE.

When the shot was ready I was given instructions of what I had to do. The first instruction by itself had me in splits. Hold on! I am not just talking about laughing (mentally of course) but it actually had me in splits. I was given two tape points to spread my legs and become as short as I can. So confession time – I am the tallest girl in my family and taller than the average women of my country. The camera being so far away still could not capture my full head. I spent most of my time standing that way.

With 20 odd people staring at me, the director screamed action. I was playing the mother, having a good time cooking in the kitchen with my kid. The irony is that I hate cooking. But we were cooking away happily with no food in the vessel. It’s just like when we were kids and used to play house. We laughed, stirred, stirred, stirred………..and CUT! Phew! Thank god.

The temperature of the kitchen was probably at like a 40 degrees celsius.

The lights were burning me and pretend daughter down.

The assistant make up guy comes to touch up my sweat.

The assistant gets a fan and starts fanning me vigorously.

In that process, my hair takes a hit.

The hair stylist comes running to fix my hair. 

The director loses it for not covering my tattoo.

The cameraman loses it because an art prop crashes.

The other child in the frame wont stop crying.

They move lights for a better angle.

People are running around all over the place and then again…..

Action! We stir and stir. Cut. We finally go for the next scene.

As they rearrange the set, my daughter and I run to the room before we get knocked over by one of the men.

When I reach the room, they redo my hair and make up. That is when it hits me. Wow! That was my first shot and it was not that bad. At least I thought so. But what did the director think? I did not have to wait long because he came in to check on my makeup. I asked him and he replied, ” Is this your first? Wow, I would have never guessed. You are perfect because you take instructions so well.”



And the next shot onwards, I was all set.


It was a great day and a great team. I never thought I would survive it. But I did. There were some crazy ass funny moments. They are funny if you have a sense of humor and you can see them scurrying around like little Disney characters. My favorite moment was when the cinematographer was looking in my direction and screaming – ” Why is Baby in the shot?” ” Take Baby out.” ” Who told you Baby was in the shot you morons”. I had this confused look on my face. The kid next to me pulled my hand and asked me,

” Aunty, Am I supposed to leave the scene. Am I the baby?”

“No Kid.Hold on! When you grow up you will realize Baby has two meanings. So they could be talking about me too.”

An assistant came running and lifted a light out of the shot.

“LOL…Look kid! Now we know that Baby has not just two meanings. It has three. You, me and that light.”

Well it was funnier when it actually happened. But we used that stupid scene to feed our fake laugh as we stirred the fake food. 🙂

So that’s it folks. My image of the media is very different now from what I had. Hats off to those guys because it is so physically taxing that I have been bedridden for the last 3 days after the shoot. But it was worth it. Sadly, my doctors have advised me against it for a while. I need to heal my fractures and build my immunity before I got back to that. I wanted to write about it somewhere, just to remind myself that it happened. Even if it was just once. At least I tried. Right?


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