Inside a Hindi Film Recce

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it – scout a location for the next Hindi film super hit aka recce (for the uninitiated, recce: pre-shoot reconnaissance of a film location.)

Where to start? We asked our Mumbai-based go to girl, Deepti Datt for her advice. “Mumbai is film city. It’s easy … if you know the right people, and places to look.”

Indeed.

Words weren’t enough. We asked her to take us around visually. Happily, she obliged. Below she shares her own pictures and descriptions to give us a taste of a day in the life of a Hindi film recce.

The Door

As a ‘behind-the-scenes’ element on film shoots, I tend to find beauty in what is usually deemed ‘background’. In the early morning light when set-up is happening, or during an afternoon sunlit break, is when I catch the rare stillness before the pandemonium of ‘lights, roll sound, camera, action!’ begins. Monsoon in India is my favorite time for outdoor shoots, when nature transcends technique, and beauty is everywhere. This is a door to an old Portuguese Palazzo in the afternoon light… and one that never made it even into ‘background’.

Lighting Crew

Another of my favorites… the Lighting crew setting up a morning shot along the seaside… angling the reflectors to catch what is known as the ‘magic hour’… that breath-taking light of dawn that lasts just long enough for everybody to have scrambled since 3.30am in set-up

Camera

Mukesh mills, a favourite bollywood shoot location… and that early morning stillness before the crew arrives. I like the subtle play of colors in this old structure, the blue edges on windows left by the last crew who used it, the salmon pinks and beiges of the walls and ceiling, and the juxtaposition of the ever intrusive camera unit waiting it’s turn to take over.

Curtain

Razzy gold-sequinned fabric under consideration for dancers’ costumes to a big bollywood song sequence… here used as an accent at the stylist’s home before making the journey to the tailor’s workshop, and the Filmcity set in the Bombay suburbs.

The Cross

On my way to a script meeting, as the light breaks through the heavy clouds on an old, village, side-street in Bandra… what I just missed getting here was a flock of bright green parrots… didn’t know which was more dazzling to lens-chase.. the sunlight coming through onto fuschia bright bougeanvilleas or the bright green flock.

Motorcycle in Pink

This is one of my favorites… just down the cobbled lane of Chimbai where I live.. one of the last fishing villages in Bandra. I especially love this moment because it reminds me of Diana Vreeland’s famous quote during her time as Editor of American Vogue: “Pink is the navy blue of India”.
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