Tonight I am going filming. I don't want to go, I don't
want to - I just want to lie here an watch CNN with
Sim our son - he only arrived from Australia yesterday -
'They've caught Sadam! - Look in big letters across the
bottom of the screen - Sadam Hussein captured! '
up excuses about leaving. It's polluted out there in Bombay
- too much smog an there are millions an millions (20 million)
an me! I have to catch the train at Churchgate in the dark!
- I don't want to go - I pull the sheet over my head in
our hotel room an then I peer out at the TV again. They
show some footage of Sadam captured.
looks like a sadhu who has wandered in from the desert -
Look they are shining a torch into his mouth, its all orange
inside there... Sadam's oriface looks like a cave into
the underworld - the divil usually enters an exits the
body through the arsehole - In fact Sadam looks like
a kindly grandfatherly type, like the evil Australian politician
John Howard we have as a Prime Minister at the moment in
get going!' says Sue, 'Its your last night of filming in
Saddam is getting a haircut - and I'm getting a permanent
stoop peering into the camera!'
like Lazarus from my bed. I get a train at Churchgate -
it shunts out into the vast regions of the suburbs of the
Mumbai night - I barely squeeze past the guys hanging out
the train carriage in first class - I wonder what second
class is like tonight?
at the picture of the rabid dog with dripping deadly saliva
advertised on the wall inside the train - 100% fatal, only
six injections in the arm required! I manage to turn the
page of the Mid Day newspaper Dec 27 2003 to the track watch
page - 10 the number of people who have died crossing the
tracks in the city in the last 24 hours. 3695 the total
number who have died crossing train tracks in Mumbai since
hour later I arrive at Greigoan station an squeeze past
the guys hanging on at the door an get off. I wipe the sweat
from my forehead - it gets kind of hot in those first
class compartments. In second class you melt into clarified
mandarins from the fruit seller at the station exit. I get
a three wheeler to Hansa's place where we all meet before
the film shoot.
I say entering her flat.
Michael did you have a nap?' she asks.
of course!' (We will be up all night filming).
turns up. We eat dinner that Hansa and Shami have cooked.
Mutton Curry vegetables an rice. Its 10 o clock - We climb
into the big white four wheel drive an head of to the new
working class housing complex being built on the edge of
a national park - sort of on the outer limits of Bombay.
begin filming. Udai turns into a wild scavenger an
hunts for a match to light his cigarette in the night.
Pi the producer dresses up as a cop an walks around with
a big stick - but real cops turn up. I hide behind a car.
Pi says, 'Its ok I've already paid them off.' I have shrunk
to an amazing 6 inches behind our car.
cops leave. Kids won't go to bed, we have to keep brushing
them away so we can take shots - but their dads act for
us in crowd scenes for free - we have donated money to their
housing co-op so that we can film - their wives make us
cups of tea. Its a winters night in Bombay, about 22 degrees,
locals wear coats or shawls. They have a good housing co-op
here. 54% of Bombays population live in slums. Tonight local
villagers come in from the hills nearby and stay.
come?' I ask.
are wild marauding leopards out tonight.' someone replies.
do leopards do?' says me.
eat little human children.'
my god!' says Hansa with hand to her mouth.
out into the night past the dusty boulders into the hills
on the edge of the housing complex out into the jungle.
the actor looks like a desperate wild cat now, he crawls
along a drain, reaches thru a kitchen window, chases after
a 3 wheeler, runs alongside an empty bus (we are at the
end of the line here). Tries to light his smoke on a lit
lightbulb, looks thru the bags of a figure asleep on the
ground - Pi the cop arrives and beats him at this point
with a big stick.
feverish Udai staggers off into the dark an stands
shaking in the night.
he yells out, ' Look there! An owl! Its on the ledge.'
a snow white barn owl with big eyes looking at us.
continues his method acting. "Mr Owl, can you help on this
cold winter's night, I am desperate to light my cigarette,
where can I find a match?'
owl says something to him.
to Jebeesh our sound recordist.
did the owl say Jebeesh?'
owl said something in Urdu.'
is with you.'
a bit startled...'You mean he spoke like a parrot. The owl
didnt really say 'God is with you' by itself?'
owl is not a parrot! He did say it.' Jebeesh replies.
the owl that I am an atheist.'
turns and conveys the message. The owl blinks and replies.
did he say Jebeesh?'
Owl said, 'So what!'
turn and look at the owl who suddenly flies off. The first
streaks of dawn appear in the sky. We get our camera into
position for the last shot of the night.