About eight months ago, when she first started taking tourists on personalised Bollywood tours, Eesha Singh knew she’d found her true calling. “I’m a film buff and a Bollywood loyalist,” says the 26-year-old, who moved from Delhi to Mumbai about five years ago.
Tourists at the studio of a Mahim-based artist who paints posters of Hindi films
While setting up her company The Mumbai Dream, she knew that there was an existing sizeable segment of tourists curious to know more about the larger-than-life film industry. “Tours catering to Bollywood fans were not very creative and didn’t offer much,” believes Singh. With no training or experience in the tourism industry, it is her background in media marketing that gives her the edge. “I have access to film and television production houses, which means that even with a week’s notice, I can arrange an interaction with the top brass at media houses as well as set visits,” she says.
Her basic tour includes a visit to the set of a film, ad-film or television show, an interaction with executives at a production house, a trip to Bandra’s Bollywood Walk of Fame and a drive past actors’ houses. The tour ends with a visit to a Mahim-based artist who still hand-paints posters. “We’ve had requests for the artist to paint a poster with the guests’ faces replacing those of the hero or heroines,” she says with a smile. For an added cost, she also enables guests to learn lines from a famous Hindi film and audition at the production house. “We send them the audition tape later,” adds the young entrepreneur, who makes it a point to accompany all her guests.
“While my target audience is anyone interested in films, most of my guests are foreign tourists and accompanying them gives me a chance to meet and interact with people from diverse backgrounds. They usually stay at a luxury hotel in Colaba and during the long drive to Goregaon’s Film City, I give them a brief history of Indian cinema as well as its evolution,” divulges Singh. She also enjoys sitting in on their conversations with actors. “It is wonderful to see how willingly the actors spare their time to meet them. I had once accompanied Spanish tourists to the set and they spoke no English at all. We had a guide with us who was translating, but, by the end of it, the actor had managed to teach them to say I love you in Hindi,” she recalls.
Singh is more than willing to adapt her tours according to the guests’ needs. “Catering to a couple of MBA students from Emory, I knew they were interested in the business aspect of it and I got them to meet someone from the animation industry. But then I also have guests who only want the fun and glamour. And for them I can also arrange Bollywood dance or singing workshops too,” reveals Singh. Happy to get creative with her tours, she can organise anything from a meal with a film critic to a Bollywood-themed party, a visit to Liberty Cinema to a customised Hindi song recording.
Eesha Singh can be contacted at email@example.com