COLUMN: LOCATION DIARY
Actor Babu Antony talks about his experiences in 'Carnival' and his first Bollywood role
By Shevlin Sebastian
Actor Babu Antony was in a dilemma. He had always done his own stunts, but in the film, 'Carnival' (1989), directed by PG Viswambharan, there was a scene where he had to ride a motorcycle inside a dome. “The professional riders told me that it took six months of practice before one could do it,” says Babu. Anyway, Babu watched the riders and noticed how they balanced their body, as well as the bike, against the gravitational pull.
But the bike made Babu uneasy. “It had one gear and no brakes,” says Babu. “If you pressed the brake, accidentally, you could fall and injure yourself. That was why the brakes had been removed. It was an old 350cc Army bike, but very light, as compared to a Bullet.”
Soon, Babu got ready. He could not wear a helmet, since he needed to show his face to the camera. But, all at once, the weather changed. “There were thick black clouds,” says Babu. “4 p.m. became like 7 p.m.. The crew said it was a bad omen.” Meanwhile, there was only one camera placed at the top. The crew members refused to put a camera on the floor, in case Babu lost control and the bike fell on it.
Babu started the bike, and began going round and round at a lower level. Then, gradually, he picked up speed and moved higher. He did a few rounds, but, suddenly he became blind. “I could not see where I was going,” he says. “I was told later that this happens to all riders and fighter pilots. That is how major accidents happen when you do adventure sports.”
Panic-stricken, Babu pushed the bike downwards. Somewhere, close to the bottom, he jumped off. “I landed on my haunches, placed my hands over my head, in case the bike fell on top of me,” says Babu. “But luckily, it did not.”
However, when he asked Viswambharan, the director said that the shot was not okay. “He asked me whether I could do it again.” So Babu agreed. In the end, Babu did the ride eight times. “Each time I rode for two to three minutes,” he says.
When the shooting got over, immediately, it started raining. And it continued till the next morning. “I still get goosebumps when I think about how the rain held off,” says Babu. “But, on the screen, there was not much of an effect, because only one camera was used. So, that was disappointing.”
But there were uplifting moments, too. His role as Renji, a villain, in 'Poovinu Puthiya Poonthennal' (1986) received widespread praise. Subsequently, he acted in the Tamil, Kannada and Telugu versions. During a break in shooting for the Telugu film at Chennai, Babu had gone to Pune. On his return, he was held up at the check-in counter at Mumbai airport, where there was some problems with his ticket. A man came rushing towards him and said, “Are you Babu Antony?”
Babu nodded. He said, “I am [Bollywood hero] Govinda's brother, Kirti Kumar.” Babu looked skeptical. So Kirti said, “Come with me.” At another part of the airport, Babu was introduced to Govinda, Rekha, and Anupam Kher. Govinda hugged Babu, and said, “Bob, what a wonderful role you did. You were excellent.”
Following immediate financial negotiations with Kirti, Babu got his first Hindi role in 'Hatya' (2004). “When I look back, if there had been no problems regarding my ticket [which were later resolved], I might not have got this chance,” says Babu.
(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode)