Indian 2 – a sequel to a big hit film Indian (1996) – is an action film directed by Shanmugam Shankar, one of the most prolific and highest-paid Indian filmmakers.
The scenes in which Paweł Semba from Wroclaw will act together with the Kraków Stunt Team Poland will be shot in Ćennaj (Madras) – the huge capital of the State of Tamil Nadu in southern India with over 10 million inhabitants.
‘What exactly will we do there? I’ve got no idea! We know what our role will be, and the rest is just a big unknown. We will learn the details on the spot, and, for the time being, we are ready for everything,’ says Paweł Semba, a stuntman.
Although the film in which he will act has not been finished yet, its official trailer is already available on YouTube.
Paweł Semba has been a stuntman for 13 years. He has not found his own way immediately.
‘I could never sit in one place – adrenalin is my fuel. I was a martial arts instructor, I dove, I jumped in a parachute and I did many other things, but it was still not enough for me – I kept missing something. Now I have found that thing and I want to pursue stunts as long as I can. Why? Because there is action, something happens all the time. Sometimes I am a soldier, and sometimes I am a slave or a knight. I can play various characters, work in different places or meet new people,’ says Paweł Semba, a stuntman.
How did it begin? One day, when nothing special had happened in Paweł’s life for too long, he turned on the computer and surfed the Internet until he found a stunt course in Kraków.
For one year, he commuted to weekend classes, during which he learned the tricks of the trade and trained four, sometimes six hours a day. An exam? There was no exam – as Paweł says, life verifies who will be a stuntman and who will not. Fortunately, he passed this test. He did not miss the opportunity.
He has appeared, among others, in Polish TV series: W11 – Wydział Śledczy, Nielegalni, Król and Legiony, as well as in foreign productions, such as the 2nd season of Barbarians, where he doubled for one of the main characters, Marbod, in horse-riding scenes and was an assistant stunt co-ordinator and a fight choreographer.
He cannot talk about the latest film – a great American production with popular actors, shot also in Poland – because the contract he signed obliges him to keep silent before the film hits the screen.
Indian 2 will be Semba’s third Indian film. The first one was Aazaan – an Indian–German–Polish co-production filmed partly in Poland, and the second one was Full House, shot in India.
‘I am even in the trailer of Aazaan, but you have to take a good look to recognise me,’ he says. But he is not frustrated about that.
‘If I am visible, that is fine, because I can show it to someone, but sometimes it happens like: “Look, here! Have you seen? It is my leg,”’ laughs the stuntman. ‘ ‘I am okay with that. The fun connected with this work is fully rewarding.
What does a stuntman’s working day look like?
‘I fall from a big height, someone shoots at me, a car hits me, I am kicked, I kick myself,’ he enumerates. ‘Sometimes we are almost non stop on the set and, for example, we throw ourselves onto the concrete. We are on our last legs then, but with a big smile on our face. Such days are very satisfying and give a greater high than those when you run with a torch or sit on the set all day, because stunts begin 10 minutes before the end. But this is also a part of our work, so a stuntman must be patient.
No day is like another. For example, during the production of Legiony, horses jumped over Semba and his colleagues.
‘They were running towards us, and we were huddled in a trench, with our heads at the level of their hooves. What do you feel then? You realise how small you are...’ he recalls. And he adds that horses actually did the biggest piece of work in this scene. ‘They were running towards the point from where we were shooting at them. Whether they were trained or not, this must have been difficult for them.’
Is a stuntman’s work always as dangerous as it looks like?
‘There is always a risk factor, because you cannot predict everything, but our task is to perform risky things safely. We have protection: lines, mattresses, mouthguards, and a co-ordinator watches over to ensure no one gets hurt.’
And what do you need to do to become a stuntman?
‘First of all, you should want it very much and have plenty of determination. I have worked regularly only for two or three years. Earlier I had one or two orders a year, so I had to do part-time jobs elsewhere: at a construction site, in a factory, as a trainer... Fortunately, I do no longer have to do it,’ tells Paweł Semba.
However, he has to train intensively.
‘The body does not forget certain things, but if you do not train, it is easy to lose your form, which increases the risk of injury,’ he warns. ‘If you want to do this job, you cannot take it easy. One of the first things I heard in the stunt school was: ‘No training, no job’.