The women were the most fascinating of the lot in this part of the world. They were fair with Persian features. Some had rounded Mongolian eyes and high cheekbones. In the midst of the Torbaaz shoot, I spotted Liza, a local girl wearing a bright orange silken hijab covered from head to toe. She looked wonderful and her fair pink cheeks glowed in the sun. I took a few pictures of her with close-ups as she posed for me with a smile.
There was pandemonium on the cricket ground as kids from either team played the game while they were being shot by almost 6 cameras that were placed strategically around the ground. The ground would be abuzz with activity as the theme music of the film would play and the crowd would go berserk with joy. On one side was a rock band with a drum kit and saxophone. On cue, they would start performing as the maddening crowd would rush towards them and start dancing for joy.
The entire shoot was a rush of blood for me as I ran from one end of the cricket field to the other with drones flying overhead. A team of three different cameras circled us from either side. Just to add a tad bit of masala to the proceedings, bombs would blow off from the edge of the film and terrorists from Afghanistan would open fire on the crowd. I almost lost my turban as I tried to make way from the stampede that took place. It was all fun and mayhem in the middle of the film as the cameramen circled us taking long and close shots. I tried my best to be in front and am sure that I must have made it in some of the shots.
As if on cue, Dutt would come into the crowd and pull out the stumps. The kids would hug him and he would wave his fists in the air dancing with joy as team Torbaaz enacted the winning scenes.
Food was another activity that I indulged in. Lunch was chicken, rice and dal. At times, Chinese fried rice and chicken Manchurian were also served to us. Evenings used to be typical with meals, fruits, dates and juices. There was always coffee and tea breaks where biscuits, buns and pizzas were served to the crowd who patiently waited to perform to the director’s tune.
Local kids dressed in Pathan suits and colourful turbans took photos as Sanjay Dutt walked in and out of his scenes. He looked apart as he waited for the director to tell him the sequence of his shots. I managed to grab a conversation or two with the locals who were part of the crowd. They were some Mongol tribes who had come to Bishkesh from Northern Pakistan.
The evening sunset would create an orange and purple hue on top of the silver foiled snow mountains that surrounded our city. We had a clear view of this breath-taking view of the mountains from the ground. By the end of the evening, my feet began to ache with all the running and activity of the shoot and I decided to head for my tent where I could do a costume change and hand over my get up to the makeup artist. I think I managed to capture the essence of ‘behind the scenes’ activity of this majestic Bollywood film.