JOHN YDSTIE, host:
Travelers to India are surprisingly likely to find themselves invited to be extras in Bollywood films. This happened to essayist Tim Brookes not long ago. Now he's waiting to be invited on the talk show circuit.
SYLVIA: Hi, Tim, it's so nice to have you on the show.
TIM BROOKES: Oh, thanks Sylvia, smashing to be here.
SYLVIA: So can you tell us a little bit about your current film project?
BROOKES: Sure, Sylvia. It's a movie in Malayalam, which as I'm sure you know is the language spoken in the Southern Indian state of Kerala. It's called "Omakai Orupheram"(ph) and it stars Nisham Sagan(ph) and is directed by Jagadish Tchadron(ph). They wrote their names on this paper napkin here. I think you're going to be hearing a lot about this film in the future.
SYLVIA: Well, what's the film about?
BROOKES: Well, Sylvia, that's one for the epistemologists to fight over, isn't it?
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BROOKES: But frankly, I'm as much in the dark as you are. All I can say is that my big scene takes place in a restaurant on the beachfront, and during this scene the three stars are meeting each other for the first time at this restaurant.
All three of them are smoking cigarettes and drinking beer, so I think it's safe to assume it's a gangster movie.
SYLVIA: Is there any romance for you in the film?
BROOKES: I knew you'd get around to that one sooner or later, eh? At this point, all I'm at liberty to say, Sylvia, is that while the action is taking place at the table in the foreground, I'm deep in conversation - improvised conversation, I should point out - with a young English lady who was staying in town training to be a masseuse. And I'm drinking a Sprite.
I must say, success and fame had caught her a bit by surprise because when the call came to take part in the film, she was wearing Wellington boots that, when the film is released, you'll notice she's trying to hide under the tablecloth.
SYLVIA: How did you prepare for this role? Is there anything special about costume or makeup?
BROOKES: Not really, Sylvia. I decided to go with what I was wearing, which happened to be shorts and a San Diego Cricket Club t-shirt. They're very big on cricket in India, as you know, and I thought that would add a touch of universality.
And as for hair and makeup, well, I just cleaned the (unintelligible) out from between my teeth with a fingernail - tricks of the trade, really.
SYLVIA: Okay, I've got one last question for you, Tim, and it may not be the most appropriate, but can I ask how much you were paid for this film?
BROOKES: Oh, to be perfectly honest, Sylvia, I waived my fee. He offered, I waived. I mean, given the conditions under which people in India have to work, it's only fair, isn't it? I mean, he had paid for the Sprite, after all.
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YDSTIE: When Tim Brookes isn't working on his movie career, he directs the writing program at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont.
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BROOKES: This is NPR News.
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