Actor Patel (who really calls himself Actor Patel — we call him “Actor” for short) played a character in the movie I was shooting in India. He was not staying at Vijay Vilas, the lovely beach resort where most of the actors were, and was instead was sucking it up as a shabby joint. At dinner the second night Actor told me how he has not been sleeping well. Beore I could stop myself an offer to take up a bunk in Grant’s, a fellow actor’s, room, flew out of my mouth. Grant almost threw a fork in my direction. That night Grant, the poor guy, was only able to get to sleep with the help of an Ambien, a blasting IPod and a pillow over his head. That was after Actor Patel made him partake in a photo shoot that included a lap top as a prop.
The next morning the cast discovered something very important about Actor: you can tell him to shut up. At breakfast he started going on a ramble that was half Gujrati, part Hindi and somewhat English (note: people who speak all of these languages fluently find him hard to follow because most of it is muttered) and Zenobia, who played his boss in the movie (character traits sometime follow you off screen) turned to him and said “Chotu [his name in the movie], be quiet!” And, miraculously he did. That was because he has a heart of gold and about the size of a football field. You can poke fun of him and he doesn’t mind — a long as he knows that you are his friend.
This is not to say that at our discovery that he is a sweet guy Actor stopped being irritating. The offers for life insurance (he sells it as a side gig — a dollar a day if you are under thirty!), puns that make no sense and a constant plee for attention all grated on our nerves. But, because he is a good person he was able to, as Grant put it, “worm his way into our hearts and infest our brains”. When filming was over Actor had to visit family somewhere else in Gujarat (however, Actor currently resides in New Jersey and is available for performance bookings all over the tri-state area which you can read about on his Facebook page) so was the first to leave. The remaining cast and crew spent a day at Vijay Vilas resort without him and the experience was not quite the same (although more peaceful). Actor told me before he left: “I am like a perfume — sometimes too strong, but when it fades out you miss it.” Yeah, we missed him.