So a couple of months ago, we released a video on our social media pages, “A Foreigner in Mandai”.
Recollecting that shoot experience now, all I can say that it was literally a ‘guerilla shoot’. Everything was unplanned, we hadn’t worked with Aadel (American Punekar) before and although we were excited about the entire ordeal, there were still a few nervous thoughts. Apart from the conceptualisation, nothing was planned or prepared. We were six people against a tide of Punekars in possibly one of the most crowded place in the city- Mandai.
We arrived in Mandai at 2 pm and under the lovely (not) blistering heat, we waited for our videographers. The funniest thing about Mandai is that you literally can’t find an isolated spot. So while we stood like odd pairs of socks dab smack in the middle of Mandai, we realised that it wasn’t going to be an easy affair.
A lot of what we see in social media videos usually hides the painstaking process behind it. In our case, it was the weather and not having a concrete plan. Fortunately for us, the latter worked in our favor.
When Aadel first started wandering through the inner circle of Mandai, I observed a very pleasant curiosity from the vegetable vendors. “He looks like Shivaji”, one vendor pointed out to me which had Aadel beaming.
Another memorable incident which changed my perspective of Mandai was when Aadel jokingly asked a vendor, “Do you have Avocado?” and the vendor handed him four avocados. “60 Rs. for quarter”, he said in fluent English which left me agape.
You see, being a lifelong Punekar, I must admit that I’ve had some inhibitions about the city. After the Avocado eye opening incident, I literally decided to let Mandai surprise me. And it did. Remember the, “What’s up Bhau, pacchas ka pau” joke? It was not scripted; it was a hilarious coincidence.
Moving ahead, Aadel came across two tiny shops which were selling lanterns and the infamous black doll. When he asked the kind lady at the shop about the lanterns, not only did she explain about them, she also helped him pick a few.
We were seriously debating about the entire Chitale ordeal; not only was it impossible to shoot inside the place, but the cops at Shanipar would have made shooting a bit difficult. How did we manage it? Sheer luck and moving as fast as we could. When he emerged out holding a bakarwadi packet, we all let out a sigh of relief. One part was done, in time, I mean. Getting his shot of eating bakarwadi outside Chitale was integral and for that, two people literally shielded him and our DOP from the cops’ line of sight. Rush of adrenaline, but we made it!
A few funny incidents- Baba Ramdev shot and Aadel handing out a hundred bucks to this lady in the picture and looking at us helplessly while asking, “Was it a lot of money?” became the cherry on the top for our shoot.
We had parked our vehicle at the Mandai public parking and we decided that the end sequence would be shot there, it made sense. After Apeksha somehow magically procured a pheta, the like, share, subscribe session was shot against the backdrop of Mandai. A fitting end to an exhausting but lovely shoot!
Again, thank you for the love shown for this video, Punekars!