When Neil Nitin Mukesh was on his way to Kenya to shoot for Shortcut Romeo, he had never imagined what adventures lay in store for him. “It was insane, yet fun and thrilling,” he says, summing up his trip.
The one moment that the actor clearly remembers, however, was when he was shooting a fight scene with the Masai Mara tribesmen. Suddenly, his bodyguard ran onto the set and asked him to get back into the car. “He said ‘run now’. I didn’t question him, but when we got inside the car, we saw 12 lions coming towards us,” says the actor. Due to the tall grass, the animals were camouflaged.
Neil adds, “They walked right up to our cars and jeeps, and that was when we figured some of them were lionesses too. I guess once we got busy with the action sequence, we thought we were shooting in a National Park in Mumbai,” he smiles.
Once back in his hotel, Neil’s adrenaline rush eventually faded away. “We have seen animals in zoos, circuses and movies. Though it is exciting to see one in the wild free environment without cages, we may not realise the danger they can pose,” he says.
At their hotel, the whole unit was under curfew post 7.30 pm. They were strictly asked not to move out of their rooms. Neil’s room was situated in the middle of the jungle. On one night, when he was discussing the next day’s scenes with the team, they all heard a loud frightening roar.
“Instantly, we knew there was a lion around. The sound was so close; it felt as if he was inside our room. The next morning, I woke up at 5.30am and saw six hyenas hunting an antelope outside my balcony. I felt I was part of a National Geographic documentary,” adds Neil.
Shortcut Romeo is being touted as the first film to ever shoot with the Masai Mara tribe. Though he spent most of the schedule shooting in the heat from 5 am to 8 pm, he didn’t seem to mind it. Being a fan of photography, he spent most of the time clicking pictures around Kenya.