Friday, June 6, 2008
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Still getting the hang of this blogging malarkey and just discovered that all I'd inputted last night hadn't saved. I feel a bit miffed frankly since I was (of course) quite pleased with last night's musings. They were completely inconsequential obviously but none the less deathless prose for all that. There was something about breakfast I seem to remember which you'd have been utterly fascinated by I'm sure. But since all this stuff is post facto, I'll just have to make some more twaddle up instead. Anyway, Tuesday...and tonight's Thursday...right...so there was breakfast during which inspite of the vast array of curries, cereals, buns, biscuits, hams, cheeses and so on available for the hungry traveller, I restricted myself to fruit and a cup of tea. A man of iron discipline, that's me. I'd arranged to meet the Dean of the Actor Prepares school, Mr Hemendra Bhatia, in the hotel foyer and after we'd walked past eachother a couple of times (I blame the sunglasses indoors thing), we eventually bumped into eachother, exchanged hearty handshakes and off we went into the morning traffic with Mr Bhatia at the wheel. The school is a couple of miles from the hotel and is housed on two floors of the Film Welfare Trust building. What happens on the other two floors is a mystery to me but it doesn't appear to involve the Film Welfare Trust in any way at all. The school is mercifully airconditioned but not glacially. Mr Bhatia showed me round both floors which consisted essentially of two studio spaces and the admin offices, staffrooms and so on. I was introduced to the teaching staff who all seemed perfectly charming and whose English, like virtually everyone I have met here, was both idiomatic and faultless. The A/C was blasting away in Mr Sailesh Kottary's office which was where I was finally escorted and where we sat and shared a congenial cup of tea, brought into the room by one of the school's multitude of ancillary staff. One of the things one notices about India is the number of people doing very focussed jobs - one chap to open the door, one chap to pick up the bag, another to put the bag down, yet another to open another door and so on. For the middle classes and upwards nothing appears to be done which is not done for them. It's a bit of an eye opener frankly. Mr Kottary is Anupam Kher's business manager for the school, a journalist by profession and an amiable chap. We went through details of the prospectus and went through the list of issues which we were to discuss with Mr Kher himself. When the time came I was ushered into the presence of the great man himself, seated as he was behind his desk. There is no doubt that for Mr Kher (always Mr Kher and never Anupam), Actor Prepares is a labour of love and something which he feels particularly passionate about and committed to. He is in many ways a very unactorish actor and comes across as quite stern and lacking in any of the flamboyance which many people would associate with your cliched thesp. There is no doubt when he is in the room who the boss is and those who work with him clearly share his opinion of himself. I quite liked him although I'm not entirely sure what he made of me. Anyway we talked through the various challenges in terms of staffing and agreed that the Hindi-speaking acting coach would be the main challenge. Mr Kher suggested a name who he thought might be appropriate and we all agreed (for how could we do otherwise) that this would be a splendid idea. I suggested my own ideas regarding the use of a 1st AD to hold the acting for film and tv classes and that seemed to go down well. Mr Kher gave me the contact details of someone he had worked with on Bend it like Beckham and then we all retired for lunch in the staffroom. Splendid food arrived, delivered by one of the flunkies, and we all tucked in. More discussions followed as we talked through more pressing issues and it was past 4pm when I was dropped off by the charming Mr Bhatia back at the hotel. Four different people escorted me and my bag for the 20 feet or so I had to travel from the car to the lobby and then...off to the pool for me. Did I tell you about the pool? No...tut, how remiss of me...this is one of them...and this is the other. Nice aren't they...a tad understated for my tastes but them I'm a simple man. The water was warm..and I do mean warm, like slipping under a quilt, under a big, wet, warm quilt. Eeeeughh! That sounds horrid but you know what I mean. Anyway I splashed around like Moby Dick for a while, excited the passing Japanese whaling fleet until I disappeared and promptly fell asleep in the shade.