I have recently been informed that I have at least four readers, perhaps as many as five. It’s not just my mother, after all.
My cousin was getting married in Mumbai where he lives, so I took the opportunity to scout locations there with our India line producer Digvijay “Diggu” Purohit and 8th Wonder Productions. Diggu worked on Slumdog Millionaire and has been my man on the ground in India for the last few years as we’ve been trying to put a feature together there. We only had a morning and it was an informal scout, but he put together locations for us to see.
The film’s primary locations are a slum, an orphanage, and a few scenes in a clinic. Diggu brought us to a handful of fascinating locations that are often used for filming, including an abandoned bungalow and the “orphanage” from Slumdog Millionaire. Afterwards, he took us to “Juhu slum” (actual neighborhood name is Nehru Nagar) and it was incredible. It’s one of the slums featured in the movie as it is adjacent to an airfield.
Juhu slum is a formal, built up neighborhood – incredibly vibrant and teeming with life. We weaved through narrow passageways, stepping over sleeping dogs, dodging children, ducking under concrete outcroppings, passing friendly and curious faces until we were spit out through a hole in a fence into an open area littered with trash. From there, we could see the airfield and helicopters landing. Nearby is where they built the infamous latrines for Slumdog, Diggu pointed out. Kids were playing cricket nearby and others hung out in sections of unused concrete pipes.
It was an incredible glimpse of India I’ve never personally seen up close, and it was a real gift to be guided through it. Afterwards, we headed to Bangalore where most of my family lives to round out our short trip to India.
Now, back in the US, we start pre-production in earnest. I discovered that my long-time cinematographer and partner-in-crime Matthew Blute will not be available to join me on this project, due to being booked on a low-budget art house indie called Transformers 4. So now Jonathan Smith and I begin the process of finding the various puzzle pieces in India that I’m not bringing along with me.
More to come on that. And more frequent updates now that I’m actually in prep, and will be procrastinating.