Location Diaries: Bobby Simha - A learning experience

This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film, and this week, actor Bobby Simha talks about his experience shooting for Kamal Haasan-Shankar's Indian 2
Location Diaries: Bobby Simha - A learning experience

While shooting for Shankar-Kamal Haasan's Indian 2, actor Bobby Simha got to travel across several states in India.

"We travelled to so many states, shooting across cities and villages, it was tough to keep track. The shoot schedules were hectic and before we knew it, we were in a different city or state. I even got to travel to places I had never been to before," says Bobby Simha.

At times, he did get time to explore, "I had a lot of scenes with the late Vivekh sir. Whenever we had some time, we both would set out to explore the location. We sampled street food and local cuisine from Rajasthan, MP, and Gujarat to Andhra Pradesh. Vivekh sir also knew a lot about temples and he would take me along with him."

Travelling across the Northern states, Bobby was pleasantly surprised when people quoted his film titles and recognised him. "I understood then the reach of our dubbed films on TV and streaming platforms." Shooting with Kamal Haasan for the first time in his career, was an unforgettable experience for the actor. He says, "I consider it a huge honour to be part of this film and I'm indebted to Shankar sir for it. To actually share screen space with Kamal sir, that too in his iconic Indian 2 thatha get up, was a totally different vibe and full of goosebump moments for me." 

He recalls his very first shot with Kamal Haasan, "I had to make eye contact with him and say my dialogues. Now, Kamal sir is a legend. So, I was naturally nervous. But he has a way of putting actors at ease. He gave me a few tips which were very helpful and I performed with ease." When he didn't have scenes, Bobby Simha would spend time watching Kamal Haasan perform. "It was mindblowing to watch him in action. The way he would emote despite the prosthetics, his eye movements, his reactions, and the way he changed his walk according to the screen age of his character, was just amazing. Due to prosthetics, he couldn't eat for up to ten hours. He could only drink liquids through a straw. It was very inspiring to see his dedication," says the actor.

During breaks, he got time to speak to Kamal. "He was very friendly with us. He would talk about the days he spent with the late Sivaji Ganesan sir. When I asked him about his films like Guna, Dasavatharam, and Mumbai Express, he would very patiently and enthusiastically, narrate his experiences working on these films. He was very open about sharing his process as an actor. It was a great opportunity to learn for me." 

Watching director Shankar on set, Bobby noticed his extreme professionalism. "He is a stickler for punctuality. He would often say that attention to the minutest detail in the shot was vital. The way he handled a particular chase scene involving thousands of junior artists was just incredible to watch." 

He also noticed the gentle nature of the director on set. "His films are filled with grandeur but Shankar sir is simplicity personified. He has the greatest respect for his artists and technicians. He would never scold or hurt anyone, nor raise his voice. Once, when a new actor was taking too many takes for a shot, Shankar sir, who was far away, walked all the way to the newcomer and spoke to him gently. He explained how Kamal sir's prosthetic make-up could only last for a limited time and requested the artist to concentrate and give the shot soon. His dedication and passion for cinema is mindblowing to watch," he signs off.

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