COLUMN: LOCATION DIARY
Actor Harisree Ashokan talks about his experiences in the films, 'Kudumbakodathi', 'Punjabi House', and 'Satyam, Shivam Sundaram'
Photo of Harisree Ashokan and wife Preetha by Mithun Vinod
By Shevlin Sebastian
One day, in the 1990s, Harisree Ashokan was relaxing in a hotel room in Aluva. This was during the shoot of the film, 'Kudumbakodathi', directed by Viji Thambi. Suddenly, a call came on the intercom. It was a young girl, who asked Ashokan whether she could come and see him tomorrow. He said okay, and told her to come by 11 a.m.
The next morning, an excited Ashokan sprayed some perfume inside the room, so that it would smell good. “You must understand this was the first time this was happening to me,” he says. So, he waited patiently, having told the director that he would come late to the set.
A little after 11 a.m., the doorbell rang. With a sense of anticipation, Ashokan opened the door. It was a 20-year-old girl, wearing a red salwar kameez. “I was taken aback by her beauty,” says Ashokan. “She stared at me with an amazed look. Then I said, 'Are you the girl who called me?' She said, 'Yes'. Then she suddenly said, 'I am going'.”
Ashokan felt puzzled. He did not why she left so quickly. “I became depressed,” he says. After a while, she called him on the phone. “I had come to see the other Ashokan [who has acted in films like 'Peruvazhiyambalam' and 'In Harihar Nagar'].” When Harisree Ashokan went to the set, he narrated the incident to the crew members and everybody had a good laugh.
There was a time when Ashokan himself had a good laugh. During the shoot of 'Punjabi House' (1998) in Kochi, the Thiruvananthapuram-based comic actor Indrans was feeling homesick. For three weeks, the shooting had been going on non-stop. But one day the production controller, Shanmughan, told Indrans that he did not have any shooting for the next two days, so he could go home.
Indrans got very excited. To show his joy, he mock-fisted Ashokan, and said, “I am going back home tonight.”
Ashokan took a lift in Indran's car. “He was dropping me home [at Vazhakalla], before he carried on,” says Ashokan. “Indrans was eating an orange. He was throwing the peels at the passers-by. I asked him what he was doing. He said, 'I feel so happy that I am going home.'”
The next day, at 7 a.m., Ashokan had a shooting schedule. But when he went to the set, Indrans was sitting there. “When I saw him, I burst out laughing,” says Ashokan. “I said, 'What happened?'”
Indrans said he had nearly reached home, when Shanmughan called and said, “You have a shoot early morning tomorrow. The other actor is not available.” Indrans immediately turned back. He did not even go home. “When I look back, it is a sad incident, but there was something funny about it,” says Ashokan.
On another occasion, Ashok and Cochin Haneefa were relaxing on the sets of 'Satyam Shivam Sundaram' (2000) at the Kakkanad bus stand at Kochi. Suddenly, a youngster came up and said that he could not fold his right arm. He said that there is an equipment which when placed at the elbow would straighten his arm. “Then I will be able to eat with my hand,” he said.
Both Ashokan and Haneefa were moved when he said this. Ashokan asked the price of the equipment. The boy said that it cost Rs 7500, but he had Rs 2500. So, he needed Rs 5000.
Haneefa said he would pay. Ashokan said, “No way, I will.” In the end, they tossed a coin and Ashokan called correctly. He told the youngster to come to his home the next day.
At 7 a.m., the youth arrived at Ashokan's home. “He showed me the slip from where the equipment could be bought,” says Ashokan. “I told him to give me the Rs 2500, and I would buy the equipment for him. He replied that he would get the money and come back.”
Thereafter, Ashokan never saw him again. “There are many who try these tricks, to make money,” he says. “But having met many such people in my life, I was not surprised.”
(A shorter version was published in The New Indian Express, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode)