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When Tom Cruise was to shoot an action scene from the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, the makers of the film brought in the best from the world of stunts. One of them was Hollywood's James Bomalick.
A special effects technician for this film, Bomalick recalls the scene where Cruise, tied to an almost invisible winch, smashes the hotel window and rappels 164 floors down. "It was real and Cruise did it all by himself," says Bomalick. He is in Chandigarh to announce the opening of Action Tek India, a school for stunts and action techniques in Jalandhar and, later, Mumbai with karate guru Sanjay Gokal.
"As a child, one never has an action director on top of his list of career options. Then I decided I had had enough of life on the road and turned to action," says Bomalick, who was an athlete and bodyguard for 12 years. A keen student of maths and science, he soon mastered the art of designing stunts, choreographing actions sequences and staying abreast of latest technology. Soon, he became the go-to guy with the necessary licences and expertise to organise and carry out large-scale action scenes.
Twenty-five years into the business, and films such as The Mummy, Mr and Mrs Smith, Die Hard V, Rush, Cloud Atlas, and Hindi film, Blue, under his belt, Bomalick has lived by one rule — "plan the work, and work the plan".
Yes, he still loves the standard fight scenes and high-speed action in films such as Bourne Supremacy but, according to him, technology has made it cost effective and larger than life. "It has made stunts simpler and safer, too," he adds. However, Bomalick agrees that action also dictates the technology and, if not integrated in the script, can stick out like a sore thumb. "The action in Blue was fabulous, but the story couldn't hold it," he says with a trace of regret.