Myles Harrington

I’m a Bombay Badboy Extra

In India on June 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm
Sometimes when you arrive somewhere you can get an instantly good feeling for a place. For example when I got to Agra I knew it was rubbish, when I got to Manali I knew I’d enjoy it and when I cruised in to Mumbai at 6am last Monday morning I got a rush of excitement. I was back in a big city I’d heard mixed reviews of. Some loved the western style apartment complexes and AC cinemas, others hated the non-Indianness of the place and the street hassle. I thought it would be a combination of the hecticness of Delhi and the coolness of Kolkata.

The Gateway of India welcomes you to Mumbai

I checked into Lonely Planet’s cheapest recommendation, the Salvation Army Red Shield House, which for a dorm room was very expensive compared to the rest of India. As soon as I arrived I met a fellow English Indian explorer named Ollie and we were asked if we wanted to be Bollywood extras that afternoon. Who could refuse such an offer?

Our big scene

 The purple Bollywood Bus, as it was called spontaneously by all of the 20 or so western extras that filled it, was late, so we arrived at Whistling Wood studios at about 3pm. We were instantly sat down to a free, all you can eat thali lunch and we got to know our fellow cast members. Eventually at 5pm we started filming. We were a London audience for a Pop Idol style show. They got us cheering a bit and looking in shock at the singer on stage. That was it and 500Rs (about £7) was ours.

Back on the bus and half a grand richer

As most of my first day in Mumbai was taken up by the delights of movie making, it was time to hit the tourist spots with some fellow extras. Paul and his girlfriend Laura from London and Brighton respectively, Ollie, and Julien (from Belgium). On our day tour we managed to fit in the Dhobi Ghat, famous for where all of the city’s laundry is done, Haji Ali’s mosque and the market known as Thieves Market

Apparently Haji Ali's body floated back to this spot from Mecca, hence the mosque

Mumbai's laundrette

 After a long day of walking (there was a city-wide taxi strike) it was time to spend yesterday’s earnings with a few beers at Mumbai’s famous Mondegar bar. Again, we got scouted and agreed to return to the north for my second shot at stardom.

This time there was no celeb style bus, this was for real. So we travelled for real on the suburban train; at rush hour. Something Lonely Planet strongly suggests not to. Only Julien and myself were chosen to attend, so at 8am we set off with our agent (yes, I have an agent, big deal) to a sports complex about an hour away from central Mumbai. There was a screaming crowd of 300 people who were to watch me be an Australian wicket keeper in a pain relief spray advert.

For a day, I was big time

 It was raining all day, which meant we had to sit around in a film star trailer (complete with lit mirror) for about seven hours and at 5pm, after a shave, which I made them pay me extra for, it was action time.

I felt ashamed to be wearing that

 It was a major rush to get back to Mondegar for the England kick off and luckily I only missed 10 minutes after dashing along the platform and diving in to the crowd on the packed commuter train. 1000 Rs poorer and many beers later, Paul, Julien and myself headed to the very cool and dark Red Light club. I lost Paul at some point and ended up with Julien at a fancy flat in the suburbs with a bunch of Mumbai socialites and a very fat Irish bloke. A world away from the bedbug ridden dorm at the Salvy but at 4am I had to head back.

On the bed with the rich kids of Bombay

  1. I am heading off to India in a couple months & can’t wait. I stumbled across ur blog, and its great– pretty much how I imagine India to be.. lots of picturs, randomness, beer, and train rides!

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