Alright, the title might be a tad clickbaity, but it’s entirely true!
First off, I didn’t have the chance to meet Shah Rukh Khan, which is a bit disappointing. He wasn’t on the set that day. However, I did have the opportunity to meet Kashmera Shah (Wikipedia, Instagram) and I’m not sure if Juhi Chawla (Wikipedia) or Aditya Pancholi (Wikipedia) were present.
Second, my role was that of an “extra” and only for one day. You can spot me briefly in the background for a few seconds.
Let’s start from the beginning
I was in Mumbai in 1997 as part of my long “backpacker” travel of several months. I was 27 years old then and notably slimmer than I am now (for those familiar with me 😉 ).
I came across a paper ad, pinned on the board in the hostel I was staying at, looking for European girls to act as extras in a movie.
I can’t remember if I called or how it went, but I got accepted. This was during a time predating mobile phones and the early days of the internet, so contact was likely not via email.
I’m not sure why they were looking for European girls, but I suspect it was because we had to be in swimsuits, and perhaps at the time, they (at least that team) preferred Indian ladies to dress more conservatively, but I can’t say for certain.
Here’s a snapshot from the scene where I’m visible
If you’re interested in seeing the entire movie, it’s available on YouTube. My appearances are at the 1:01:25 and 1:01:52 timecodes in that video
(That youtube account has probably no rights on the movie, so that video might be removed at some point)
As an extra, I had to lounge on a sundeck chair to fill the scene behind Kashmera Shah who was being grabbed by a stranger during a poolside sequence. At some point the director asked if any of us could dive in the swimming pool but after trying, I was apparently not a good fit for that.
My whole experience
It was an absolutely fantastic day!
I remember the sun! I was lacking sunscreen and the very friendly Kashmera Shah offered me some to prevent sunburn! Every time the director yelled “cut,” I hurriedly covered myself with the towel.
I also recall the filming location being a luxurious 4 or 5-star hotel somewhere in North Mumbai. I don’t remember the precise name or location of the hotel because, before the digital age, I wasn’t documenting everything like I do now. Nevertheless, it was a splendid setting!
The food was exceptional – truly some of the best Indian cuisine I’ve ever tasted, living up to the hotel’s high standards.
My little share of celebrity
I want to mention that I often attend international conferences (WordCamps, about WordPress) and have made many friends from India and the surrounding countries. People attending WordCamp Europe or WordCamp US, as attendees or sponsors with the great WordPress companies we find in India and the surrounding countries.
I know they’ve passed around my story, and this year, to my surprise, an Indian lady was thrilled to take a picture with me because I was in a movie with Shah Rukh Khan😉
It was a delightful taste of celebrity life 😂
Delving into Hindi Cinema
Imagine being on a Hindi cinema movie set! For those unfamiliar with Hindi Cinema (part or India’s film industry), sometimes referred to as “Bollywood,” here are a few excerpts from this Wikipedia article:
In 2017, Indian cinema produced 1,986 feature films, of which the largest number, 364 have been in Hindi. As per data from 2014, Hindi cinema represented 43 percent of Indian net box-office revenue; Tamil and Telugu cinema represented 36 percent, and the remaining regional cinema constituted 21 percent. Hindi cinema is one of the largest centres for film production in the world. Hindi films sold an estimated 341 million tickets in India in 2019
Known since the 1990s as “New Bollywood”, contemporary Bollywood is linked to economic liberalization in India during the early 1990s. Early in the decade, the pendulum swung back toward family-centered romantic musicals. Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) was followed by blockbusters such as Maine Pyar Kiya (1989), Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (1994), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Raja Hindustani (1996), Dil To Pagal Hai (1997) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), introducing a new generation of popular actors, including the three Khans: Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, and Salman Khan, who have starred in most of the top ten highest-grossing Bollywood films. The Khans and have had successful careers since the late 1980s and early 1990s, and have dominated the Indian box office for three decades. Shah Rukh Khan was the most successful Indian actor for most of the 1990s and 2000s, and Aamir Khan has been the most successful Indian actor since the mid 2000s. Action and comedy films, starring such actors as Akshay Kumar and Govinda.
More about Shah Rukh Khan here
EDIT: my friend Hari (who wrote the first comment) just told me that today 2 November is Shah Rukh Khan’s birthday. It’s amazing that I posted this today without knowing that fact!! Happy Birthday Sir! जन्मदिन की शुभकामनाएं 🎂
Referred to in the media as the “Baadshah of Bollywood” and “King Khan”,[a] he has appeared in more than 90 films, and earned numerous accolades, including 14 Filmfare Awards. He has been awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India, as well as the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and Legion of Honour by the Government of France. Khan has a significant following in Asia and the Indian diaspora worldwide. In terms of audience size and income, several media outlets have described him as one of the most successful film stars in the world. Many of his films thematise Indian national identity and connections with diaspora communities, or gender, racial, social and religious differences and grievances.
Cinema is an important part of the culture in India, with people going several times a year to watch movies, films been watched in a lot of the surrounding countries and all over the world.
In India, cinema is an important cultural element. People frequently visit movie theaters, and films are also enjoyed in many neighboring countries as well as worldwide.
To this day, I like to watch a Indian movie from time to time, the last one being available on Netflix: Badhaai Do (2022) with a very modern take on LGBTQ+ couples.
Summary of links