I had taken a direct flight from Delhi to the capital of Kyrgyzstan called Bishkek. The flight was comfortable. We had a pick up from the airport to the hotel called Olive. I, in my state of absent-mindedness, lost my passport on the conveyer belt while we were checking out of the security area of the airport. So, I had to make an abrupt U-turn to fetch it back as I only realised this when I had reached our hotel. Yes, indeed, this was a large gathering of a Bollywood crew to shoot the Sanjay Dutt starrer Torbaaz.
Next three days went by quickly in the hotel as my shots kept getting delayed. I did, however, manage to take a tour of the city and visit the local malls, shopping stores and bookshops. With my GoPro in hand, now also equipped with a mouthpiece, I shot the city of Bishkek.
The city is surrounded by snow peaked mountains. In the midst of it all was our rugged cricket field where a match was to be played. I played the commentator in the match. This is a country populated with Mongols, Turkish Muslims and Russians. The currency of the county is Som. The official languages are Kyrgyz and Russian. People here have a mixed aryan and oriental look. It has ancient cultures dating back to 2,000 years. Kyrgyzstan was also part of the silk route. I had a lot of fellow actors here from Afghanistan as the film is based in Afghanistan. It is about the tussle between the Taliban and Sanjay Dutt who wants to bring about change through his cricket academy.
I got my chance to meet the legendary Khal Nayak and even managed to give him my book Survival as a gift, but alas, I did not get a snap with him. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the shoot, the running on the field and the pandemonium as the bombs exploded in the background. These scenes were shot with drones and a lot of aerial footage was collected.
The schedule was good. We had a pick up in the morning by 10 am and we would shoot till 8:30 pm before we headed for dinner.I even got the attention of a few Afghani chicks who were worried that I had captured them inappropriately through my camera and GoPro. I was able to calm them down and tell them I am a humble travel blogger and do this for a living.
Here, the afternoons are very hot but the evenings turn cold. One needs a jacket as the sky turns orange and the night holds sway. My best discovery was a packet of Sobranie which I managed to buy from a store – gold tip Sobranie cigarette with a brown cover. Man, this was the smokes of the kings and only the best could afford these. I loved smoking them and flashed it around the unit. In no time, I had finished both the packets of this royal smoke. Kids cheer around as the locals acted as part of the cheering crowd. The rest of the Afghani actors were either dressed up in military attire or in the Taliban get up. It was only on the third day that action for me began as I put on my Pathani suit, cap and beard to come into my character. I paraded around the grounds posing with guns and AK-47 rifles all being part of the shooting prop.
Yes, Bishkek. I had finally arrived in this ancient and wondrous land.