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Day 26: Lahore

Michael Palin - HimalayaShaan arrives. A trim figure, early to mid-thirties, with black trousers and tunic and dyed blond hair. A good face, strong features, heavily muscled arms. Not unlike the young Brando.

A big wedding scene, in which Shahid plays an angry lover, is about to go before the cameras. There's the usual scrum of activity around the set. Turbanned figures on lighting gantries re-direct the lamps, extras wait nervously in a back room, a leading lady is applying the heavy and elaborate layers of make-up that seem to be obligatory for any heroine, while the director, Sangeeta, a big, fair-skinned, bespectacled woman, prowls around like the headmistress of a particularly troublesome comprehensive, cajoling, exhorting, upbraiding and generally trying to hurry the process along.

The set is all fairy lights and soft furnishings and fussy white balconies.

'This is what Punjabis want,' says Shaan, in quiet, fluent English. 'This is their fantasy of success.'

As he waits for his moment to be shot by the bride's father, he seems calm and quite happy to talk. He says he's been in the business 14 years and I ask him how many films he's made.

'223, I think, or is it 4?' He considers for a moment. 'And two of those years I spent in New York, so, yes, that's 224 in 12 years'.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 26: Lahore
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Lahore
  • Book page no: 57

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