Johan Bartoli and Hampus Bergqvist left their homeland, Sweden, with one aim — to join Bollywood as actors. They came to Mumbai in September last year with no contacts, and only dreams. They chronicled their (mis)adventures on their Facebook page, 2 Foreigners In Bollywood, and the Internet started loving them. Months later, they bagged movies like Rustom, Banjo and will be seen next in Rangoon.
What is it that really lured you to Bollywood?
Hampus: I had been to India backpacking when I was 19 years old. I loved everything about this country — the culture, the people. The industry is so huge, totally insane and ‘too much’ of everything. I love it. It suits my personality.
Johan: It was the unknown, the mystery that surrounds Bollywood when you watch it from far away, that lured me here. I just wanted to come here and explore it for myself to see what it is all about. It is full of craziness!
How did you make your first connection once you landed in Mumbai?
H: We spoke to people about our plan and one contact led to another. People were very helpful, and slowly, we got in touch with good people in the industry.
Which was the first Bollywood movie you watched?
H: Dilwale Dunhaniya Le Jayenge. I saw it in Sweden and it was something different and epic in a way.
J: Likewise. I was quite young when I watched it the first time. But I remember that the movie was so different from the others I had watched. I loved the music, dance and pace of the film.
Which was the first local dish you tried in the city?
H: Butter chicken. It’s my all-time favourite now.
J: Vada pav at a small shop in Chakala. I loved the fact that you can get food instantly, and which tastes good as well. It was spicy, though!
The funniest experience you’ve had while you were trying to figure out the city and its people.
H: Once, when we were in a rickshaw waiting for the traffic signal to turn green, a eunuch came and said, ‘Please, just for one hour, let’s go to a hotel’. We rejected him politely but when the rickshaw started to move, he ran after the auto and screamed, ‘Can you at least show me your private part?’ (Like we would just casually do that in a running rickshaw!).
J: When I took part in a carrom tournament in Dharavi. Of course, I lost big-time, but it was so much fun!
Your first time on the sets of a Bollywood movie.
H: My first film was Banjo and it was all hectic. One thing that caught my attention was all the people working on set. So many people running around like crazy!
J: It was on the sets of Rustom. I had reached late because I couldn’t find my way. I immediately got dragged to the sets by one of the ADs and boom! I was standing in front of the camera, ready to shoot. The director and his team were extremely stressed, the set was chaotic, but it went well in the end.
From HT Brunch, October 23, 2016
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