We make our way up the wooden steps of a small villa on Chapel Road, Bandra. The air smells of Konkani fish curry in the three-storied building, and middle-aged women in night gowns are chattering away in a distinct Mumbai-Catholic accent. “Where you want to go, men?” one of them asks us.
We are here to meet Ranjit Dahiya (36), founder, Bollywood Art Project (BAP) — the street art project that aims to transforms Mumbai into a living memorial to Bollywood — and Gustavo Bechtold (32), a Brazilian adman who shifted base to Mumbai in 2011. We meet them at Dahiya’s home-cum-studio: a one-room-kitchen with an attached terrace, lined with paint buckets, mannequin body parts and a prosthetic silicone head with human hair stitched in for a realistic finish. And cats. Twenty cats, to be precise.
Dahiya and Bechtold are creating a Bollywood-inspired card game for the tabletop gamers in Mumbai. Titled The Bollywood Game, it is the duo’s tribute to Hindi cinema. The game represents the ingredients required to make a perfect Bollywood film: a hero, a heroine, a villain and his vamp, extras, romantic songs and an item number. “Players will be creating an original masala flick with their imagination through this game,” says Bechtold. The game is expected to release in May.
Though they share a common love for Bollywood, Bechtold and Dahiya have different perspectives on the industry. Growing up in Brazil, Bechtold’s tryst with Bollywood began in 2011, when he first came to India for a job. “My friend took me to watch Desi Boyz, to Galaxy Cinema, Bandra. I didn’t understand Hindi back then, and there were no subtitles either. But the colours, facial expressions and songs were enough for me to understand what happened in the film. I have been in love with Bollywood ever since,” says Bechtold.
Dahiya, on the other hand, grew up on Bollywood, and loves classical films of the ’40s and the ’50s. “When I first came to Mumbai from a small town in Haryana in 2000, I expected to see Amitabh Bachchan, my favourite actor, casually walking on the street, and posters of iconic films covering the walls across the city. I didn’t see any of that. There was a major disconnect between the film industry and the city that houses it,” he says.
So Dahiya took matters in his own hands and embarked on a mission to paint classic movie posters across Mumbai. “In 2012, when Bollywood finished 100 years, I started working towards converting the entire city into a museum dedicated to Bollywood,” says Dahiya. His works include the murals of Dadasaheb Phalke on the MTNL building and a painting of Anarkali (film) and Madhubala on Chapel Road, in Bandra.
The game begins
But how did all this lead to a card game? It started in 2015, when Bechtold had to go back to Brazil after a surgery. “I was on bed rest for eight weeks, and to pass my time, I played board games with two of my friends, Alexandre Grilo and Eduardo Longo. It was the only time I spent without a gadget,” says Bechtold.
The analogous experience inspired Bechtold to consider the idea of creating an original game, based on Bollywood. Coincidentally, Grilo and Longo are professional game designers, and the trio developed the card game.
It combines chance and strategy, and progresses like a Bollywood film. With an ultimate aim to win over the heroine, cards such as ‘plot twist’, ‘arranged marriage’ and ‘intermission’ help add a story and strategic restrictions on each player. The designers have even developed a mathematical algorithm for the game to lead to a happy ending.
Bechtold has been testing the game in Mumbai in closed focus groups since January 2016, and the response, he says, has been positive: “Since we didn’t have the actual cards designed, we took printouts on paper. One player was so excited, he requested to take the printout home,” recalls Bechtold.
The duo plans to release the game in May, and have decided not to partner with a gaming company. “The game will be available for online purchase on our website and we will distribute it to cafes that host board games in the city,” says Bechtold.
Everything about the game speaks volumes about the duo’s love for the film industry. So much so that they hope each card will be a souvenir of Hindi cinema for everybody who owns it. “We are designing the cards in an old school hand-painted poster format. They are more appealing than the kind of movie posters you see these days,” says Dahiya. They even plan to package the game in a video cassette casing. “We hope it will be a treasured possession for every Bollywood lover,” says Dahiya.
The Bollywood Game will be available to all by May 30. Visit thebollywoodgame.com to pre-order and purchase the game online.
*The cards displayed are prototypes.