Today sees the global release of Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey, a Bollywood historical drama in which I have a speaking role as Major Johnson, a 1930s British officer who pistol-whips a woman, shoots revolutionaries and is a good old-fashioned baddie.
The movie is directed by Ashutosh Gorwariker, India’s only Oscar-nominated director and stars Abhishek Bachchan and Deepika Padukone, Bollywood’s biggest stars. I spent 25 days on set in Goa earlier this year… and, yes I did have a trailer with cable TV.
I also had a moustache box and I had the utter time of my life. One shoot lasted a week and conversations over dinner with the Bollywood glitterati were extraordinary. I look a bit of a dork in the movie (think John Cleese), but one of the leading actresses DID say I should have been cast as Sherlock Holmes.
I realised that the only way to be taken seriously as a ‘star’ was the walk from the trailer to the set when one is surrounded by people with umbrellas, ‘spot-boys’ giving one tea, water and a chair whenever one sits down. In effect, one has to saunter from the trailer as if one has done it all one’s life. It’s the only way one can do it.
Similarly, the producers of the film have absolutely nailed it when it comes to sauntering through social media. I posted some pictures on Facebook and was immediately asked to take them down and the producers then began a trickle-down social campaign that seems to have worked perfectly.
The first stills of the movie were released through the Twitter account of leading actor Abhishek Bachchan that was immediately seen by his 500,000+ followers and then on Facebook through a series of competitions, interviews, sneak previews before more pictures on the Deepika Padukone Twitter feed and finally the trailer on Facebook.
So it’s been a weird morning trawling through all the reviews, all of which have been positive and even The Guardian gave it four stars in its pages today; apparently my local paper even wants to run a story later. Fifteen minutes of fame, blah-blah.
I know it’s not Hollywood, but it’s been great fun and I’ve (mischeviouly, yet validly) added my name to the Wikipedia page and marketed the hell out of it through my own social networks (as I’m doing at this exact minute). Jolly japes, I can tell you.
My next film comes out in April next year when, as a Russian drug dealer, I danced on a rock on a beach for nine hours, then at a forest scene where I carry on dancing until I’m finally thrown screaming into an incinerator in Mumbai by Bollywood’s biggest villain.
So, I had my death scene and if you get a chance to watch the film (it’s on at Bristol Cineworld at 1.15pm and 6.30pm today), you can see why my screen death had to happen. Let’s say I’m not exactly Marlon Brando, but I wouldn’t have missed the experience for the world.
So, here’s to all the guys and girls on the movie, I love you all, dahlings…