Behind the Scenes: THIS Is What Happens in a Bollywood Assistant Director's Life

Bollywood AD
Bollywood AD

Location call: 7AM.
Location: Madh island.

One of the ADs will have to get up at 4 AM and then make about 200 calls so that the crew wakes up on time. Then, 30 minutes later, 200 calls again to check everyone hasn’t gone back to sleep and are on their way to set. When it comes to actors and HODs, you will have to call the respective drivers so that cars reach their places on time. Basically, spend your nights in drivers’ houses if need be, but you get the actors and crew to set on time. That’s what your job is and it is totally yours to lose.

Once you reach set, get the vanities ready. Actors may or may not get pissed if they are not performing well on set, but, take the vanity away for a second, the whole set catches fire. Okay, not the whole set, it would be just be one AD crying in a corner. Not all actors are like this, though. Some prefer to spend their time between shots walking around the set and hitting on the cute assistants. I am talking about you Mr. Forty-year-old-Audi.

Guess who he is?
Behind the Scenes in an AD’s Life

So, everything’s ready for the shot. Oh wait, the hero and heroine were just here… where have they gone? The director, in the mean time, gets super pissed that actors aren’t on sets yet and so he goes into his vanity and starts watching the DVD of the original film. See, he doesn’t want to waste time at all. THIS is the sincerity that goes into copying a film, frame by frame.

One AD runs around the set like a loser and finds the actors in a corner. In most cases, the hero and heroine are just looking at one of the phones and laughing at something. Idiots.

Guess Who
Behind the Scenes in an AD’s life

Now that actors are on set, one of the ADs will go and bring the director back. But now… where the hell is the DOP? He was just here sometime back. F**K! RUN RUN RUN! As one AD goes to bring the DOP back to set, actors start chatting with the crew, like makeup artists and costume assistants. Well, they chat with ADs too but we don’t really encourage it. Especially with lady actors. We don’t encourage their chatter with us mostly because our producer is a dangerous one.

The AD returns saying he can’t find the DOP on set anywhere. Director goes, ‘you guys are useless’ and goes back to his vanity. On cue, the producer walks into the set and pulls a few ADs aside. We explain him what’s happening on set. Now, we don’t get into technical stuff when we talk with producers because most of them are dumb. Really. Anyway, the producer shouts at ADs for their inefficiency and then attends to his phone call. It’s important to make a note here that no one ever hears the phone ringing. So, attending the phone, he talks about cash flow and other stuff that makes him sound like a powerful producer and slowly slips away.

Guess who he is!
Behind the Scenes in an AD’s life

Someone finds the DOP, somewhere lost, staring at the sky. DOPs are the real emo dudes. Director is now back on set. Actors also return to set, you can almost sense their disappointment that they have to act now. They take their positions. Silence on set. One AD gives a clap. DOP screams his lungs out because the AD couldn’t get out of the frame after giving the clap. He’s still in the frame, even though the AD is thinking that he isn’t. It’s a mistake and it happens sometimes. Now, if he really has his way, DOP would love to go back to his favorite spot and stare at the sky. But no, he wants to take this shot right now, not even a minute later because the lighting is just perfect. So, all of us get ready for the next take. Silence on set. AD gives the clap, this time correctly. Director calls for ACTION. Actors use their muscles. Director calls for CUT. ADs sigh in relief.

Now, all ADs carry a walkie with them all the time on set. This is for communication between them, to get different departments in sync, on set. Not a day goes by without one of the ADs screaming into the AD-CHANNEL of the walkie talkie, that he’s done with this shit and will start working on an indie film as soon as possible.

On the next day of the shoot, this particular AD will, in fact, come to set early and everything will be exactly the same as it always has been.