Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Danger of Fireworks And a Risky Jeep Ride


COLUMN: LOCATION DIARY

Writer/Actor Murali Gopy remembers his experiences in the films, 'Rasikan', 'Bhramaram' and the upcoming 'Pava'

Photos: Murali Gopy; a scene from 'Bhramaram' 

By Shevlin Sebastian

One day, in 2004, writer/actor Murali Gopy, wearing a blue shirt and lungi, and sockless black shoes, stood at an open ground in Kaloor, Kochi. Just three feet away from him, there was a long line of fireworks (kadana). In the film, 'Rasikan', Murali was playing a goonda, by the name of Kaala Bhaskaran, who had killed a policeman. As he started walking, the firecrackers were lit.

And it began bursting, one by one, letting out thick plumes of smoke. Suddenly, one firecracker turned direction and headed straight at Murali. At the last moment, he managed to move away. “It missed me by centimetres,” he says. “I shudder to think what would have happened if it had hit me.”
Nevertheless, since he was walking so close, he had blisters on his calves and lower legs.

All these memories came to my mind, when I read about the terrible tragedy, at the Devi temple, at Puttingal, where so many people lost their lives, because of the fireworks display,” he says.

Nevertheless, for an actor, risk-taking is part and parcel of the profession. He remembers some hair-raising moments in the film, 'Bhramaram' (2009), directed by Blessy. While Mohanlal played a person, who had served jail time, because he had been falsely accused of murder, Murali donned the role of a doctor by the name of Alex Varghese.

The shoot took place in the high ranges in Idukki, in April, 2009. In one scene, Mohanlal drives a jeep close to the cliff-edge. “In certain films, you have to take the risk, to have maximum impact on the viewers,” says Murali. “Mohanlal felt that 'Bhramaram' was a film like that.”

While Murali sat next to him, Suresh Menon, who plays the third character, remained at the back. “Mohanlal clearly took a risk by driving so near the edge,” says Murali. “Had he made a slight error, we would have fallen off.”

Thanks to Mohanlal's professionalism and calm under pressure, he drove the jeep without any mishap. “I admired Mohanlal's sense of timing, as well as his dedication,” says Murali. “Not many superstars would have taken the risk. They would have taken the easy option of asking for a stunt double.”

Meanwhile, Murali has pleasant memories of the shoot for 'Pava', the short form for 'Paappanekkurichum Varkeyekkurichum', which is expected to be released on May 27. Murali is playing Devassy Paappan, an 80-year-old Christian patriarch, while Anoop Menon is doing the role of Varkeyekkurichum. But, in an interesting twist, Paappan's younger sister is being played by the veteran KPAC Lalitha.

Lalitha had played the lead, with Murali's father, the legendary Bharat Gopy, in 'Kodiyettam' (1978), while in 'Ormakkayi' (1982), she acted as the sister to Gopy. “Lalitha Aunty would always tell me on-set anecdotes about my father,” says Murali. “She has so much to share about the old days.”

So, it came as no surprise that Murali had a great feeling, when he had to act, as her older brother, during the shoot, at Bharananganam, in December, last year.

During their first shot together, Lalitha, who is wearing a chatta and mundu, delivers her line: “Paappa, don't cry.” Paappan then mumbles an indecipherable reply. After the shot had been canned, they smiled sweetly at each other, knowing that it had been a special experience. 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode)

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