COLUMN: LOCATION DIARY
Guinness Pakru talks about his experiences in the films, 'Swantham Bharya Zindabad', 'Ambili Ammavan', and 'Joker'
Photo: Guinness Pakru in 'Swantham Bharya Zindabad'
By Shevlin Sebastian
Director Biju Vattappara placed his camera on the bank of a river in Thodupuzha, on a day in 2010. On the opposite bank stood Guinness Pakru, the 2’6” hero of the film, 'Swantham Bharya Zindabad'.
Pakru, who plays a Communist by the name of Vettoor Sivankutty, is supposed to commit suicide by jumping into the river. Associate Director Roshan Nair (name changed) stood next to Pakru, the script under his arm, and showed Pakru how to jump into the water.
But so engrossed was Roshan in showing Pakru how to do it, that he slipped and fell into the water. “And right in front of my eyes, I could see the papers of the only script we had slip out and float on the water’s surface,” says Pakru.
A panicky Biju arranged for a boat. Crew members got in and began collecting the pages from here and there. In the end they managed to get all the sheets. Thereafter, they came to the shore. The engine of a Tata Sumo was switched on, and the pages were placed on the bonnet, so that it could dry out.
“That was the only way we could shoot the next scene,” says Pakru. As for Roshan, he became the butt of jokes by colleagues on the set.
In his very first film, 'Ambili Ammavan' (1985), Pakru had to sit on top of an elephant. The background of the story went like this: A rich man's son comes to school in a Mercedes Benz. When Pakru complains to his father, a mahout, played by Jagathy Sreekumar, that the family does not have a car, the latter announced that, from the next day, Pakru will go to school on an elephant.
“I felt it would be exciting to do a shoot with an elephant,” says Pakru. “But when I sat on top, the bristles were like needles on my bum and legs. I started crying because of the pain. And it was Jagathy Chettan who soothed me and told me not to worry.”
And in one sequence, the elephant wrapped Pakru around his trunk and brought him down. “For a few moments, my legs were up in the air, and my head was facing the ground,” says Pakru. “Both the director [KG Vijayakumar] and Jagathy Chettan said that we should not do such risky shots. I will never forget the support offered by Jagathy Chettan throughout the shoot.”
Sometimes, stunt sequences can cause injury. At the shooting of Joker (2000) by director Lohithadas, at Cheruthuruthy, near Ottapallam, Pakru plays a joker in a circus. Since there was very little income, there was a scene when the performers steal coconuts from a nearby field.
Pakru goes to one such field, along with actor Bindu Panicker, who carries a ladder. “I was supposed to climb up a tree and throw coconuts to the ground,” says Pakru. “There was one scene where the ladder falls away and I am hanging from a branch. Then the branch breaks and I fall. As I head towards the ground, Dileep is supposed to catch me in his arms.”
But Pakru gained so much of momentum that Dileep could not hold him. “Instead, I slipped from his hands and fell, just as Dileep did,” says Pakru. “In the end, he hurt his hands, and injured his back.”
Unlike most actors, throughout his career, Pakru has had to all the stunt sequences by himself. “There is no question of a stunt man replacing me, since I am so small and there is nobody of my height doing these scenes,” says Pakru. “But I have got used to it. And, by the grace of God, so far, I have managed to do all the actions safely.”
(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode)