Bollywood in Edinburgh – an urban photographer’s sketch of Tum Bin 2 film set

First I heard the sounds of Indian music, which is unusual for Edinburgh Old Town. Then I saw busy people equipped with radios and some tourists peering down over the railings on Victoria Terrace. In the corner of the terrace a huge net with multicoloured balloons was tucked in. In West Bow below a huge scrim for lights was set up and some folks looked like a film crew. An Indian girl was staggering along the street with an open champagne bottle in her hand. Yep, Bollywood had arrived to Edinburgh!

When you are out on the streets there are millions of possibilities craving your attention as an urban photographer. It is very important to zoom in on a subject, a task or a theme to focus your mind, and of course, your camera. To find an action on the street and stay with it while pulling your viewers along into your photo story requires you to practice a certain kind of mindfulness.

That Bollywood in Edinburgh vibe I felt cried to me that the West Bow scene below was a story worthy of staying with and focusing on.

I nosed around the location set and saw a clapperboard identifying the film as Tum Bin 2 (Love Will Find the Way), a sequel to the 2001 Bollywood romance drama. The film director was Anubhav Sinha, and the director of photography was Ewan Mulligan, an American living in London. Tum Bin 2 has been filmed entirely in Scotland, in Glasgow and Edinburgh. It’s not the first Hindi flicker filmed here, so much so that VisitScotland launched a campaign last year for Bollywood fans to come to Scotland to see the film locations.

Some of the Tum Bin 2 action sequences, such as the spectacular balloon release, were already filmed at this location in the morning when Victoria Street was much quieter. By the evening it was heaving with omnipresent tourists and casual onlookers, but the busier set became much more alive it was to me from the urban photography point of view. I decided to stay on to document the entire behind the scenes, not only the young Indian actors, the female lead Neha Sharma and the male actor Aditya Seal, the directors and the action itself but also the coaching process, the work of the members of the art department, the crew and of course the gazillion passers by who stopped to observe the filming.

Neha’s urban outfit, a chequered mini dress with a sleeveless vest coat popular this season, and her staggering around with a champagne bottle and high heals in hand hinted at the Bollywood romance story with a Western twist. It will make the drama current to a large Indian diaspora in English-speaking countries. On the other hand, the attractive Hindi music score and distinctly Indian dance moves will ensure the film is a hit at home as well.

I am glad I stayed until the end of filming at this location because the balloon release extravaganza transformed into a spontaneous street celebration, as balloons were given away to whoever wanted them, which created a lovely party atmosphere!

Film crew and tourists looking down from Victoria Terrace at the Tum Bin 2 film set

Film crew and tourists looking down from Victoria Terrace at the Tum Bin 2 film set

The film set on location - West Bow of Victoria Street, Edinburgh Old Town

The film set on location - West Bow of Victoria Street, Edinburgh Old Town

The light technician directs the light through the scrim

The light technician directs the light through the scrim

Clapperboard of Tum Bin 2

Trying my Edinburgh urban photographer hat on, I am nosing around the clapperboard to identify the directors and the name of the film...

Tum Bin 2 director Anubhav Sinha

Tum Bin 2 director Anubhav Sinha

Director of photography Ewan Mulligain against the tide of Edinburgh tourists surrounding the crew

Director of photography Ewan Mulligain against the tide of Edinburgh tourists surrounding the crew

Girls by stopping by the lights

Girls by stopping by the lights

Passers by eying the screens

Passers by eying the screens

Tum Bin 2 female lead Neha Sharma in a scene with a champagne bottle

Tum Bin 2 female lead Neha Sharma in a scene with a champagne bottle

Neha Sharma and her male lead Aditya Seal

Neha Sharma and her male lead Aditya Seal

Anubhav Sinha coaches the hat scene

Anubhav Sinha coaches the hat scene

One of the team takes charge of the props

One of the team takes charge of the props

Indian actors outside Walker Slater window in Wwar Bow

Indian actors outside Walker Slater window in Wwar Bow

A romance scene filmed

A romance scene filmed

Bollywood action

Bollywood action

A net with balloons lowered from Victoria Terrace

A net with balloons lowered from Victoria Terrace

Monitoring the process...

Monitoring the process...

... while being filed on mobile phones

... while being filed on mobile phones

Assistants from art department sorting the net

Assistants from art department sorting the net

Balloons pulled back up, ready for the next scene

Balloons pulled back up, ready for the next scene

Cameramen at work

Cameramen at work

Ewan Mulligan at work

Ewan Mulligan checking the framing

Neha Sharma practicing her run under before the balloon release

Neha Sharma practicing her run under before the balloon release

Neha Sharma filmed for Tum Bin 2 on the streets of Edinburgh

Neha passing the balloons

Cute face!

Cute face!

The balloon release on Victoria Street for Tum Bin 2 Bollywood romance

The balloon release on Victoria Street for Tum Bin 2 Bollywood romance

Balloons bouncing along the street

Balloons bouncing along the street

A selfie taker

After filming the balloons are freely given to the onlookers

Bollywood-Tum-Bin-2-Edinburgh-Victoria-Street-62.jpg

Girls with a balloon from Tum Bin 2

Girls with a balloon from Tum Bin 2

The film crew folding the wardrobe at the end of their filming day

The film crew folding the wardrobe at the end of their filming day

Final touches - folding the scrim

Final touches - folding the scrim

If you want to see more photos from this shoot please visit my Bollywood in Edinburgh Flickr gallery.