Saif Ali Khan’s Happy ending was filmed in Los Angeles. Read Saif Ali Khan share his experiences of working in Hollywood to Bollywood.
Cultured and Great Vibes
LA is the mecca of filmmaking. The energy of that city is unbelievable. And I had always thought that Europe is more cultured than America, but LA, and New York more than LA, is an incredible place to work and live. They are into fitness, they are on the coast and have the best weather in the world. From restaurants there to the vibe there, after a 12-hour shift when I would come back to my Beverly Hills suite overlooking everything, I would be just full of energy.
These guys were the best I have ever worked with. They were so professional.
We didn’t go out much, but working with these guys was incredible, even though we were not working with a top-level crew. Can you imagine what it must be working with a crew like that of James Cameron?
The guy driving you knew everything about the reflector. Everyone knows everything about filmmaking and understands the language of movies. There is no distinction between driver and caterer. Aside from them, it’s the Indians that have it. The English and Europeans don’t.
But in America and India, I feel the passion for the shot. And that’s why, we are the two industries that are surviving in the world. With Indians, you can tell them yeh shot chahiye and he will do it somehow and so will the Americans. The English will say, ‘Oh! I have a problem with the permission. It’s very difficult to put a crane up there.’ The Americans, on the other hand, will cut down the lamp post to make it happen, but, of course, will charge you for it.
Indians are only concerned with what is in the frame. We are not concerned with the peripheral behaviour. But Americans are very into that. They will start rolling the camera a good 2-3 minutes before action.
In India, everything will be set up, then the clap guy will come in, then you do your hair, chat with the director and then, you take one take after the other, and when you say cut, the whole system collapses.
There, it’s like being in a war zone. They are so trained and efficient, so you better know your lines once they start as they will keep going. There, if you are talking to the director for a couple of minutes, the assistant director will come and ask you, ‘Are you going to have a 5-minute more chat, as we will then do the next set-up?’
So there, it moves at another pace. When it finishes, you collapse, but if you don’t know your lines, you will be in deep trouble.
Everyone has a life there, so if you take more time, they will charge you extra. They will start at 9 am and finish at 6 pm and in that, they get three times as much as we get here.
They don’t let you waste time. We waste the most important commodity on the set in Bollywood — time. Here, we will keep seeing ourselves on the monitor and that 1/2/5 minutes add up to to 3 hours. Here, it is very annoying and intimidating for the actors, as there is a lot of bullshit going on behind the camera.
Jaise Mera Tu song from Happy Ending
They will make a big deal of saying ‘Start, roll, camera, action,’ but basically, an actor has to give a shot. There, while you are rehearsing your scenes in your casual clothes and while you go back to your makeup room to get ready, they have everything ready and by the time you come back to shoot, there is pin drop silence on the set. It’s an unbelievable atmosphere for an actor. It’s magical.
In India, we have thousands of people making noise, which is a bit much and at least it distracts me. Overall in India, we are a little more relaxed about time and we can do with a lot more discipline on our set. I would ideally like a mix of both worlds.
Shooting Dil Chahta Hai with Farhan Akhtar was the most amazing acting experience in India. Farhan does not let you see the monitor and he does not waste time. Also, they have limited people on the set when the shot is being taken and full silence, which is great for the actor.