One would think it would be in Goregaon Filmcity, but the new Bollywood Dream Tour which offers a sneak peek behind the scenes in film and TV are conducted at a studio in Malad (W). The building behind a mall the suburb is deceptively bland looking. This tour is in association with Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC). First, the Alfa Vista Tower isn’t a really a tower. So finding it is tough for tourists. Even ‘The Bollywood Dream Tour’ poster outside is partially obscured by two building compounds. Yet, this is Bollywood where things are never what they seem, so we decided to check out MTDC’s new tour.
AT WORK: Sanjay Verma (l) and Karishma Mehta (r) dub a scene from Devdas to show how dubbing is done Pics/Varun Singh
At the door, a man at the reception asks for the tickets. Shoes have to be removed and kept on a rack at the entrance. We were informed that there is a shooting on and so we had to be silent.
WALL OF FAME: The Bollywood singers’ caricatures in the tour introduction room
There were only two tourists that day — my colleague Varun Singh and me. Arvind Puri handling the coordination of the tour says, “Ten is the maximum number of people who can come for one slot. We get from 5-8 people for every slot. But today since the shooting was on, we did not allow on the spot bookings.”
WORK SPACE: Verma shows how foot step sounds are recorded in a studio
One was a bit sceptical of his version. We were lead to the screening room where there were 10 chairs with posters of famous Bollywood films and singers from the industry. We waited from 11:25 am to 11:45 am when the Bollywood Dream Tour finally commenced 15 minutes late. We were given a glass of water and a packet of chips.
Karishma Mehta, the guide says, “Welcome to the world where impossible is nothing. In the studio, the real action of the film takes place. Pre and post production work is the real charm that does wonders for films.”
RICE RAIN: Mehta (r) demonstrates in the Foley studio how rain sounds are recorded
A clip of comic actor, Sanjay Verma is played. The actor’s television and film work is shown to us. Karishma says, “Since we are in Bollywood we need to create that scene to welcome a celebrity.” We had to say, ‘Lights, Camera, Action’ and Sanjay Verma made a filmi entry on the Don title song.
Verma then mimicked a number of Bollywood iconic characters who we had to guess. Next, we had to mention the Hindi words for — film, camera and shooting; since we were in Bollywood. Our Hindi skills sure got some sharpening.
BEHIND THE SCENES: The sounds and action on screen are matched by a sound engineer
We were made to watch a 20-minute video on the history of cinema. How the camera came into being, the Lumiere brothers’ films, the first Hindi film, the first Hindi film with sound, the first Hindi film with dialogue were all explained.
Karishma and Sanjay complemented each other well, as they gave us some important trivia that was not in the film. They spoke in Hindi throughout. That was a drawback in case of foreign tourists.
After the video, we were shown another video on Croma and how Computer Generated Interface (CGI) is used in movies to make the impossible, possible. Clips from a number of Hollywood and Bollywood science fiction films were shown.
With CGI, buildings break and crumble, daredevil stunts are done and the action really comes alive with the power of digital enhancement. The revelations made the heroic abilities of the Bollywood actors seem not so heroic.
We were lead to the Foley studio where the minute sounds in films are recorded and enhanced. Foley effects are sound effects that are added to a film during post production. They include sounds such as footsteps, clothes rustling, crockery clinking, paper folding, doors opening and slamming, punches hitting, glass breaking, etc.
Sanjay explains, “The walking sounds, walking on leaves is all recreated here by the Foley artistes and matched to the film on screen. On the sets since everything is made of wood the sound is not real. Also, the mikes are not very advanced, so Foley recording makes it more realistic. Phone ringing, being picked up, knocks on door are all created here.”
Karishma takes a bowl of rice and butter paper and recreates the sound of the rain for us. We then are taken and shown how the sounds are placed on the track by the sound engineer. The next room is the dubbing studio where Karishma and Sanjay dub a scene from Devdas. Tourists are also allowed to dub a scene.
The singing studio was being used to shoot a television serial starring Manav Gohil, so we were unable to have a song recording. The organisers allowed us to watch the shooting that was set in an FM studio with Gohil as a Radio Jockey. The shooting involved retakes of the same scene and took a long time.
At 1:15 pm, after watching the shooting for a good 30 minutes we were ushered to the end of the tour. Karishma and Sanjay bid us goodbye as we ended the ‘Bollywood Dream Tour’ which was not that dreamy. There was interesting trivia for Bollywood fans but shorter than the two hour slot that was as per the schedule.
Location: 2 Guide: 4
Learning experience: 4
What is needed: More English to be used during explanations, better signage outside the venue, usage of the full time duration.