“India’s Akshay Kumar is here for a shoot,” excitedly cried a Jordanian store owner in the city of Aqaba where some Bollywood journalists were shopping for souvenirs. Proving that Akshay’s fame had traveled far and wide even before the actor had arrived at the Arab country in South-West Asia to shoot the last leg of his action-comedy Bade Miyan Chote Miyan. Bollywood like Hollywood is fast discovering that Jordan’s breathtaking beauty and vast landscape make it cinema-friendly. And producer Jackky Bhagnani had chosen Wadi Rum, a stunning yet geographically-challenging location also known as the Valley of the Moon, to shoot a peppy Eid song composed by Vishal Mishra with Akshay, Tiger Shroff, Manushi Chhillar and Alaya F. A 250-plus crew ran around them in bone chilling weather. With director Ali Abbas Zafar and choreographer Bosco Martis calling the shots. Shades of warm gold and hints of brown painted a rustic Arabic backdrop for the camera while fluffy white clouds floated across a pastel blue sky.
Standing tall on steep and uneven rocks, Akshay and Tiger are among the few action heroes who make shooting on difficult terrains seem effortless. Fresh and energized, despite a grueling schedule across Jordan including the capital city of Amman, they kept the crew enthused and comfortable. With Akshay ensuring that every member of the media invited to cover the shoot took home unforgettable memories and were not left struggling on the steep rocks and treacherous sands. Women in the crew, especially the background dancers wearing flowy outfits with slits and bralettes, were gallantly given the best facilities. Alaya F, wrapping her portion, joined the 50-odd journos shivering in the desert’s chilly winds. “It is difficult to shoot in freezing temperatures,” she said, but indicated that the josh was high among the cast to entertain audiences with something different and new. Jackky, carrying the banner of Pooja Entertainment high, kept lady love Rakul Preet Singh and his imminent marriage on hold as he focused on finishing the shoot.
Explaining why he chose Jordan for Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, Jackky said, “It is a versatile country. You can find deserts, beaches, mountains and gorgeous cities without having to look around much.” There was also another reason. Several countries, including India, don’t allow the use of military equipment like tanks in filmmaking. And tanks are a major portion of the action in the film. The actors were game to shoot in the toughest of locations to meet the director’s vision. Unit hands whispered how Akshay put in extra hours and worked hard and enthusiastically to make it happen. Surrendering himself to the shoot. But off the set, he was warm and friendly and interacted with everyone in a casual and comfortable manner, wearing his superstar cloak lightly. “That’s why he’s the ‘Bade Miyan’ in the film,” joked one spot boy.