DUBAI // A group of expatriates found their Palm Jumeirah home in the thick of the action yesterday when it was turned into a Bollywood-style set. Actors, cameramen, make-up artists and dozens of production assistants descended upon the five-bedroom house after the residents agreed to let a friend use it for the shooting of a music video by DJ Shadow - not to be confused with the American DJ of the same name.
Amid the chaos, Arjun Chhabra, 27, an Australian corporate lawyer, Bhavish Patel, 26, and Irin Maini, 22, both British property consultants and Shamiq Raja, 27, a Canadian trader, and their dog, Charlie, had a close-up view of proceedings, and it proved a day to remember. "It was a good experience to witness a music video being shot in your own villa. The setting is quite unique," said Mr Patel. Mr Chhabra even managed to get a part as an extra. "I had a fantastic time working with the cast and team," he said. "Their professionalism is unparalleled and I thoroughly enjoyed both the experience and the adventure."
DJ Shadow - real name Satheerth Kunneth - decided that Dubai's smooth roads, iconic monuments and clean locations made it the ideal setting for his debut video. In charge was Arunabh Kumar, a director who has worked on major Bollywood productions, including the 2007 hit Om Shaanti Om. "I decided to shoot here because Shadow is a friend and I love shooting new places," he said. "I have never shot outside of my country and I am loving it." Although it will be just four minutes long, the bill for producing the video is expected to exceed Dh150,000 (US$40,000). Shooting is due to end today at the Chi nightclub.
Costs, said Kumar, were around 30 times higher in the UAE than India, and the supply of industry professionals was far more limited. Christina Sarkisyan, a 19-year-old model who is half-Russian and half-Armenian, was given the lead role after producers were unable to find an Indian for the part. The heat made shooting difficult, she said. Her co-star Juwam Aly, 24, from Pakistan, acted in the Hollywood film Syriana, which starred George Clooney.
"It adds to the production value to be shot in Dubai," said the 25-year-old DJ. " It has an international feel. With me being from Dubai as well, I had to show all the famous places." The DJ began spinning records at school in a bid for girls' attention. He has gone on to play in Australia, collaborated with several artists and is now resident DJ at one of Dubai's major Desi (Indian) nights, Club Elegante on Saturday night.
His debut album will be released later this year. The Indian entertainment industry has strong links with Dubai and filmmakers from Mumbai are often found on location in the UAE. "The locations are fascinating and Indian films have a lot of money to throw at it," said Kumar. firstname.lastname@example.org