From Braunstone 2 Bollywood!
"Unnam", seemingly sponsored by Kingfisher Beer?
By Martin Clarke (Hometown Braunstone), December 2012.

26th September 2011- Kochin, Kerela.
Had a film producer type come up to us in a bar the other night, telling me that I was perfect for a Bollywood movie that they were shooting here in Kerala. He told me that it was being shot in Maliam, so would not reach out to all of India, just the local state.

The role they wanted me to play, was a young man (I know) with his partner (not my
partner Wendy) checking into a hotel. He was adamant that I was perfect for the role. I was hovering in that state that exists between the 4th Kingfisher beer and the 7th; impressionable! The state where everything is a good idea, and even if it is your own idea, you tell everyone that you agree it’s a damn good idea. I was actually very busy being sarcastic to a young Australian girl and an American lad (Daniel) we’d met, but after some careful consideration (3 gulps of Kingfisher) and a group vote (they offered us all free food and beer), we all agreed to be picked up the next day. 

I was woken by a noise I hadn’t heard for a while – an alarm clock. I made tea, woke Wendy up and sat out on the balcony. The conversation the night before seemed so surreal that in truth I wasn’t really expecting anyone to turn up. As I ventured back inside for my second cuppa, I head my name, well “Mr Martin, Sir? Mr Martin, sir?” being called out. It was 9am and remarkably for an Indian, they were on time. In some respects it was amazing that they had arrived at our digs at all (Fort Holidays Homestay), which is impossible to find even if you know where you’re going!

We were greeted by someone I think we’d spoken to the night before who ushered us straight into an air-conditioned 4x4 telling us that we would be taken to the film
shoot and looked after by our two guides. The guides we’d been assigned had more of a “nightclub doorman” look about them than film set assistant. They were “Heavies” and quite literally so for Indian standards. Both around 6 feet tall and 14+ stone in weight. There was only myself and Wendy in the end, with American and Australian friends deciding to sleep rather than join us so plenty of room to stretch out.

As we hit the highway and started heading south, it all started to feel, well wrong. Why would someone come up to me and ask me to star in a movie? Where had he
gone to after meeting us that morning and why wasn’t he travelling with us if we were headed to the film set? And, it seemed odd that the guys that were assigned to “look after us” were so bloody big! Were we being kidnapped? If so, these were the friendliest looking kidnappers I’d ever met (though I confess, I have not really met any other kidnappers). The tea started to hydrate the brain cells and a feeling of angst was settling into my stomach. That said, I feigned bravado and didn’t let on to Wendy that I was slightly troubled, even when we drove by a hotel that bore the same name as that which we were told was where the film-set was based. Hmmm.

Thankfully, my fear (and sober analysis of the previous evenings events) was all for naught. We pulled onto a hotel forecourt a few hundred yards further down the road where film crew were already setting up for the days shooting. A sigh of relief. 

Breakfast was in the hotel restaurant, and a much swankier affair than that to which we were accustomed on our meager budget in India. Our guides had clearly been
given instructions to make sure that the white man was happy, fed and drunk. At 9.30am a breakfast of dosa with vegetables and Liptons’ breakfast tea was ordered for us. We were then asked if we would like a Kingfisher to accompany it?!?! Now, free beer is free beer, but not so early in the day. “Too early” is stated, tapping my watch to try to indicate that though there were few rules that I adhere to when drinking in India, the time of day was the most important of the two of them. 

11am, our guides, Tweedledum and Tweedledee came back, though this time holding 4 bottles of Kingfisher (5% and Rs50 (66p) for 660ml), again asking “Beer?”. Clearly the producer type had told them that I was leathered when he spotted me and that if they kept me happy in beer, then I’d be on set for days! How well someone can judge you just in one short meeting? Again I declined by tapping on my watch whilst wondering if Rule#1 of drinking in India should be reconsidered. In no way offended, they immediately disappeared with the beers, never to be seen again! 

We’d spent most of the morning watching the crew prepare the set for what we
assume was mea
nt to be a rainy-day in Kerala. A car was parked outside the main
entrance and several of the “special effects” team sprayed the car and the surrounding area with water. It was sometime before someone came up to them and pointed out that since it wasn’t actually a rainy-day in Kerala, the sun was shining. And when the sun shines in Kerala, nowhere stays wet for long. Sudden confusion and it appeared that an executive decision was made, as the hoses were turned off, the car moved and the “special effects” team returned to their plastic seats in the shade. 

In addition to learning out the special effects, we spent our time pretending not to
notice, or recognise, the real star of the movie – which in truth wasn’t difficult because he’d not served us a food or a beer in recent weeks, nor had he attended to our needs on a bus, tried to rip us off by selling us one of the many “original” fakes that are available in India and nor had he offered tried to guide us to his shop where “the most magnificent of the temple is available Sir!”. So in short, we’d not yet made his acquaintance. But he may well have offered us a rickshaw ride to somewhere we didn’t want to go! 

Mid-day and my moment came. I was told that I was being taken to a dressing room so Wendy waited patiently outside the hotel lobby area. We reached the first floor and I was handed over to someone who spoke more than the standard 5 words of English – I gave strong consideration to asking them to act as my agent if I was to remain on set for more than one day. Instead of checking in, I was now going to be walking passed Mr Bollywood on the landing of the hotel. Instead of changing, they decided that my attire was perfect – scruffy shorts, t-shirt and flip-fops that were so battered, that my friends had said should never have left central America on a previous trip. In fact, the locals laughed and pointed at them when they saw them hanging off of the back of my rucksack as we travelled around. 

They did a few camera checks and the star of the show decided that I should say something like “Hello”. I decided that his version of “Aalo” should be changed to something more suited to me. Apparently though, “Aye Up” and “How’s it going dude” wouldn’t really be understood by the target audience. So, “hi!” it was. 

Two more dry-runs and then they tweaked the role a little more. Now, I was leaving
my room with a young Asian woman, my arm on her shoulder and again walking by Mr Bollywood and now Pc Plod, though nobody found that name amusing? My Asian temptress (not) was about 20 and a good two foot shorter than me and had a girth some two feet greater as well. She had her mum there as a chaperone (why?!?!) and with the looks that I was getting from her, I was wishing that Wendy had been called upstairs to act as my body guard. 

The filming took one take, and I am now on film, with my arm around another bird and I can’t get in trouble for it. Well, not until Wendy sees the film because after all of that waiting around she didn’t see the take! 

Shooting finished and Tweedledum and Tweedledee come back. If you don’t know the names Tweedledum or Tweedledee, then Google it. They really did look like that. Anyway, first they insist that I sit with them and eat free lunch. I told them I was fine (after stuffing myself at breakfast) to which they said “Beer?”. The time had yet to reach mid-day and if I was to get anything out of travelling around the world I really had to stick to Rule#1 of drinking, though I was seriously considering adding a new clause to the original. A tap of the watch was all it took this time before they rushed off towards the dinner queue, bowling colleagues with lesser physiques out of the way as they descended on the buffet.

After they’d eaten (everything twice I think), our luxurious car arrived (bloody posh for here; we were expecting a rickshaw). Before we could leave, we were asked if we wanted to return the next day. I told them that if they found me in the X-bar in the same state as the night before, then there was a fair chance. I had no intentions of going to the X-bar though. As we pulled out of the hotel by new best friends turned around from the front seats, simultaneously asking “Beer?”. This time I decided for safety’s sake (we were already heading onto the highway and I really did want the driver to turn around and face the direction that we were going) that “Yes!” was the more appropriate answer. After all, one cannot live to rule all of ones’ life. And Rule#1 had been used a lot already that day.

Although we’d agreed to beers, we decided that we didn’t want to drink them then. No issue for them so instead of a restaurant, where I’m sure they would have had another lunch, they turned into a beer shop and picked up 6 strong beers – one each for them and four for me and Wendy. 

Turns out Wendy the “agent” was on 50% commission so only two beers earned after all that hard work! Oh well, another day another adventure.

10th October 2011- Kochin, Kerela.
As we walked around the sea front area of Fort Cochin watching the net fishermen
“perform” for the tourists, we spotted a film set for a children’s production. As we neared the area, we were warmly greeted by our now life-long friends of Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Dee smiled and though Dum’s hands were covered in food, he offered his hand in greeting. When he realised this wasn’t possible, he smiled and offered me his plate instead. Dee asked “Beer?”.

11th December 2012 – Malaysia
We’ve been online several times since the shoot to try and see if I actually made it into the film or not. There are few clips on-line and those that are, only seem to concentrate the actual star of the movie. We’ve had many offers of DVD’s in Malaysia, but sadly not mine. Maliam is of course only really spoken in Kerala, so why would I get it? We’ve sat back and giggled about the day on many occasions since as we travel around Asia and whether I made the final edit or not is of no concern. I am though concerned that if I did make the cut, that when my name appears in the credits it is as “German Pervert #1” and not #2 or #3…….

Footnote: Rule #1 has since been revised on several occasions. The position of the sun, the waxing of the moon, Leicester City’s position in the Championship and the price all are all now taken into account. For a full list of addendums to Rules #1 and #2 regarding “Safe Drinking in Asia” please email. It should be noted though that Rule#2 doesn’t actually exist and is only mentioned to give Rule#1 greater bearing in the above tale.

The Leaping Lemur



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