Thursday, December 22, 2016

Picking Up A Crocodile


COLUMN: LOCATION DIARY

Actor Vineeth talks about his experiences in the films, 'Nakhakshathangal', 'Kadhal Desam' and 'Sakthi'

Photos: Vineeth; Vineeth and Monisha Unni in the film,  'Nakhakshathangal',

By Shevlin Sebastian

In the film, 'Nakhakshathangal' (1986), Vineeth, who plays a 16-year-old boy Ramu meets an equally young Gowri (played by the late Monisha Unni) at the home of a lawyer.

Then she takes him to the dining room to have a cup of tea. The chief cook is played by Kuthiravattam Pappu. “As soon as he comes in, he speaks in a mocking voice and tells her that her visitors are supposed to sit in the kitchen, and not in the dining room,” says Vineeth. “But the way he spoke, in his nasal voice and quaint mannerisms, I found it funny.”

Vineeth would start laughing and, invariably, Monisha would also end up joining him. Every time, the scene had to be shot, both would laugh. “[Director] Hariharan Sir showed a lot of patience,” says Vineeth. “But soon Pappu began complaining, because it was affecting his timing and spontaneity.”

Finally Hariharan lost his cool. Abruptly, he got up and walked out of the house in Shoranur. The crew fell silent. “Both Monisha and I were in shock,” says Vineeth.

The assistant director remonstrated with them. “What is happening to you two?” he said.

After an hour, Hariharan returned. “This time, somehow, we managed to control our laughter, and the scene was shot, to our relief,” says Vineeth. “This was an experience that I will never forget.”

Another experience that Vineeth has not forgotten took place on the sets of the Tamil film, 'Kadhal Desam'. The shooting of the AR Rahman hit song, ‘Mustafa, Mustafa’ was taking place at Presidency College, in Chennai, which was adjacent to a slum. There were several dancers as well as junior artistes.

However, one evening, some young men, armed with knives, came barging into the set, led by a ten-year-old. “They showered abuses on us,” says Vineeth. “One of them shouted, ‘Where the hell is the girl? Who does she think she is?’”

Apparently, the boy had been going around selling peanuts. According to the boy's version, one of the dancers said, “You scoundrel, get out.” Anyway, in the chaos, the girl was spirited away in a car. Finally, the crew members intervened, apologies were given, and the mollified youths left.

Vineeth had a completely different experience during the shoot of the Tamil film, 'Sakthi' (1997). For a particular sequence, at a stream in Pollachi, Vineeth was supposed to intervene in a fight between an elephant and a crocodile.

Kanal Kannan, a top fight master, told me not to worry,” says Vineeth.

Kannan's asssistant Peter Hein [of 'Pullimurugan' fame] showed me how to pick up the crocodile and come out of the water.”

To do that, an iron wire was tied around its stomach. The mouth, with the protruding teeth, was also closed up with a wire. The crocodile was quiet. He was floating in the water.

Vineeth went and touched it, in order to get over his fear. “It did not react at all,” says Vineeth. “But his eyes kept winking.”

The shoot began. Vineeth ran into the water, called out the name of God, picked up the crocodile, ran back to the bank and flung it down. “There were five takes,” says Vineeth. “Throughout, the crocodile remained quiet.” The shoot was completed on time.

Thereafter, the crew took a break. Following that, the crocodile became extremely violent. “Nobody could go near it,” says Vineeth. “Thank God, the shoot was over. Otherwise, it would have been very difficult.”

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

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