Hanging Out With ‘Spot Dada’: B-Town’s Man Behind the Arc Lights
What I learnt from spending a day on a film set with ‘Nanhe Dada’, a spot boy and one of the hardest workers I know.
Ask anyone who’s been on a film set who works the hardest and the reply will unanimously be – the spot boys.
A department that arrives earlier than everyone and is the last to leave, the spot dadas as they are respectfully called, make sure that everyone working on the set is taken care of. From making tea and serving fruit to giving you a chair when you’re standing, spot boys are the reason sets operate like a well-oiled machine.
Getting to Know ‘Nanhe Dada’
Recently, I was privileged enough to meet one such spot dada who raised the bar for me when it came to hard work and passion – so much so that I spent a significant part of my time on this two-day shoot, interacting with him. The first time I encountered Nanhe Dada was when I was looking for a safe place to keep my laptop. He offered to take it for me and kept it under him in a trunk, which doubled up as his seat. I smiled, knowing full well that my belongings were safe under his watch. Once the stage was set and the director called, “Silence. Camera. Action”, Nanhe Dada repeated “Silence” sternly to everyone around him, in case they hadn’t heard the earlier instructions.
He carefully timed his work – which I soon learnt was actually more like a craft. Unlike other spot boys who made tea or served food, Nanhe Dada had one specific skill, which was his forte. I watched, intrigued, as he took out a set of tools, which he used, to make us absolutely delicious drinks. He used a wooden spoon to pound a slice of lemon, added some pink rock salt to it and pounded it some more after tossing in some mint leaves. He then waited patiently for the director to say, “Cut” before he turned on his noisy hand-blender.
I asked him what he was making and he just smiled and told me to be patient. He then added fresh lime juice and proudly announced “Virgin Mojitos are ready”. I took one sip and I was hooked. I stayed close to Nanhe Dada’s table for the rest of the shoot, watching him carefully as he made us delectable drinks with unique concoctions. He quickly picked up on everyone’s favourites and made sure they had the drink of their choice ready whenever they passed by his lavishly decorated craft service table.
Not once did I see Nanhe Dada sitting – he went from preparing one drink to the next, like an artist who’d had a sudden bout of creativity that he wanted to maximise. Each drink looked and tasted different and was equally refreshing in the sweltering heat. After preparing a drink, he would take a spoon and taste a little, making sure it was perfect before he served it.
He made sure the lighting and camera department – who were working continuously – were served as well. Once the shoot started, I made sure I took out some time to get to know Nanhe Dada. He told me about his journey to Mumbai 12 years ago and his work in the film industry for 10 years. He said he had worked on many movies and commercials, and when I hesitantly asked him how his experience had been – having heard stories about how spot boys don’t always have the most humane working conditions – he replied that he had always been treated well. Even when he wasn’t – he said – he never took it to heart because maybe they were having a tough day.
There was something about him that just commanded respect. Perhaps it was the dedication and diligence with which he worked, or perhaps it was his calm demeanour and shy smile.
What drew me most to Nanhe Dada was the way he took such pride in his work – something that showed in the outcome.
Nanhe Dada was a perfect example of how one can do a task well and excel at it just by paying attention and loving what you do. There is no job that is too big or too small – it’s your temperament and attitude that determine how people treat you. Nanhe Dada may have been one person on a set of over a 100 people but he was definitely the most distinguished one there.
He will remain etched in my mind forever as a true artist who not only wove a beautiful tapestry of flavours and textures for my palate, but also won my heart.
(Salona Bains Joshi is a creative producer by profession and foodie by passion. Working on movies and commercials takes her to different parts of the world allowing her to pique her curiosity in new stories and cuisines.)
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