Thursday, November 03, 2016

Unexpected Blocks


COLUMN: LOCATION DIARY

Director Ganesh Raj talks about his experiences in the debut hit film, 'Anandam'

Photos: Ganesh Raj; the actors of 'Anandam'

By Shevlin Sebastian

At 6.30 a.m., on a day in May, the young actors as well as crew of the film, 'Anandam' assembled outside the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary in South Goa. Director Ganesh Raj had a day's permission to shoot inside. But as a technician lifted the camera as well as the rig, from a bus, it slipped from his hand and fell to the asphalt from a height of 8 feet. “The rig was damaged beyond repair,” says Ganesh. Apart from that, the wire that connects the rig to the camera monitor was also damaged.

Nevertheless, Ganesh decided to go ahead. “We had spent a lot of money to get permission, so we could not afford not to shoot something,” he says. “So we shot an entire sequence, of the hero and the heroine having a conversation on bycyles, but the cinematographer, [Anend C. Chandran], could not look into the monitor. So, he could not see what he was shooting. But I provided guidance through another monitor. Somehow we managed to get some good shots.”

Thereafter, the crew had to wait for two days while a replacement rig was brought from Hyderabad.

Earlier, when the team was travelling from Kochi to Hampi, they began shooting the sequence for the song, 'Dooreyo', inside the bus. While this was going on, suddenly, there was a sound of an explosion. When the crew checked, it was the camera battery which had caught fire.

“Nobody knew why it happened,” says Ganesh. “It was a first. I have worked on films for the past five years and have never came across such an incident.”

Anyway, the crew doused the fire, the bus was stopped, the battery was taken outside, and buried in the mud by the side of the road. “That was a bit of a shock,” says Ganesh.

The film-maker got another shock when he arrived at the Chapora Fort in Bardez, Goa. This was where the iconic shot of Akshaye Khanna, Aamir Khan and Saif Ali Khan sitting on a stone wall and staring at the sea, was taken, in the cult Bollywood film, 'Dil Chahta Hai'.

“I had planned a scene where we pay homage to 'Dil Chahta Hai',” says Ganesh. “But when we arrived, I saw that the walls had broken down. I was very disappointed, because the scene in 'Anandam' would not work without it. So I decided to rewrite the scene.”

So, one character says, “The place where Aamir Khan sat down has broken down.”

His friend replies, “It's been 15 years. What do you expect?”

It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. “I was able to make it a much better scene,” says Ganesh. “All these unexpected developments take place during shooting.”

But there were planned moments, which turned out well, too. And this happened during the climax of 'Anandam', which took place on a beach at night in Goa: a New Year's Eve scene, with cloth-like lanterns.

“There were 500 junior artistes and all of them had a specified job to do,” says Ganesh. “I also had 25 assistant directors to help me out when I usually have four. I had been planning for this one shot for two months.”

Thanks to all the hard work, everything went perfectly. The scene was canned in the second take itself. “We were the happiest people on the planet when we were able to pull it off,” says a smiling Ganesh. 

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

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