Four helicopters, 12 black Hummers and four white Land Cruisers waited in the wings with their engines roaring.
The whirring sounds of the combined engines made it nearly impossible for other sounds to carry. But director of Welcome Back, Anees Bazmee, persevered, screaming loudly into his microphone: “Ready”.
That was the scene yesterday as Bazmee and his team — actors John Abraham, Anil Kapoor, Dimple Kapadia, Shruti Hassan, Paresh Rawal, Nana Patekar, Shiney Ahuja and Ankita — filmed the climactic scenes of their movie, deep in the UAE desert.
There was sand flying everywhere, but the professionals were stoically acting out their scenes. The baddies were chasing them and they needed to pull it off — even if they had to bite through sand. Abraham raised his hands as a sign of surrender as the villains jumped off a helicopter.
“I feel like a kid in a candy store,” said Abraham. “There’s talented actors like Nasseruddin Shah, Anil Kapoor, Nana Patekar, and I get to learn a lot from them.” Speaking to tabloid! inside his Mercedes 4×4, the actor revealed he was nursing a back injury, but the tough conditions didn’t bother him. “As actors we’re used to [the rigours of shooting].” He was later due to perform stunts that included jumping off camels.
“This is one of the most important scenes in the film. You are going to see action that you have never seen before,” said Firoz A Nadiadwala, producer of Welcome Back. It’s the second leg of their filming in the UAE after a stint here last December, when they filmed in the calmer surroundings of the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray hotel.
“We have been here at the desert for five days now. Today the weather is much better. Everything has been arranged to make these action scenes look good. The helicopters have been here for use since 8.30am,” said Abdul Salam, line producer of Welcome Back.
One actor that suffered more than most from the flying sand was Shah, whose long, silver hair had to be repeatedly pinned so it didn’t fly in the wind. We also saw Ahuja with a tattoo of what appeared to be an animal on his neck, an indication that he’s playing a villan.