Tuesday, June 19, 2012

At home with Dracula

Director Vinayan shot scenes of his film on Dracula at the Bran Castle in Romania. He talks about his experiences 

Photo: (From left): Sudheer Nair, director Vinayan, and Priya Nambiar in front of the Dracula castle

By Shevlin Sebastian

On a cold April morning, the 6’ 2” Sudheer Nair is relaxing inside a Tempo Traveller at Bran town near the Castle of Dracula in Romania. He has two jutting-out teeth, shoulder-length brownish hair, a blood-spattered white shirt, a black cloak and thick leather boots. Suddenly, somebody peeped inside, and the word spread like wildfire – ‘Dracula is inside the van.’

Soon, all the shopkeepers, customers, and local people rushed to the van. “They wanted to get the blessings of Dracula,” says director Vinayan. “Everybody took photos with him.” They also showered him with donations. After six hours, Sudheer was richer by 1500 leu or Rs 24,000. Said one townsman: “Dracula is not a ghost, but our God. We earn our livelihood only because of the castle.”

Vinayan, with a crew of 16 people, had traveled all the way to Romania to shoot scenes from his latest film, Dracula, a 3D film which is being made in Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu

In Romania , Vinayan hired 24 locals. “There were quite a few junior artistes,” says Vinayan. “While in Kerala we would pay Rs 300 a day, in Romania the daily wage was Rs 15,000 including a food allowance of Rs 2000.” To hire Thomas Fernandes, a 3D stereographer from Hollywood , Vinayan had to shell out Rs 15 lakh for ten days of work.

Meanwhile, when the crew entered the castle for the first time, they got a shock. A tall man, wearing a red cloak, and jutting-out incisors, jumped right in front of them, yelling and screaming. “For a moment I was stunned,” says Vinayan. “Then the people clapped.” The man, a guide, showed the various sections.

“The bedroom and dining hall are large and spacious,” says Vinayan. “But there are many dark and narrow corridors and staircases. The people were very happy that a film on Dracula was being made, because that meant more tourists from India would come to visit the palace.”

In Vinayan’s ‘Dracula’, the hero is a man called Roy Thomas. Although a Christian, he is interested in all religions. Roy goes to the Dracula Castle and becomes a missing person. His wife, played by Priya Nambiar, goes in search of him. “I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot,” says Vinayan. “But my Dracula is different from earlier versions, because there is a lot of Hindu mythology in it.”

The director chose to shoot it in 3D, because it is the trend of the future. “Within five years, I expect all films to be either 3D or even 5D,” says Vinayan. “Many people are skeptical, but when 35mm shifted to 70 mm, people said that it would not succeed. But now 35mm has become extinct.”

Fine, but why a film on Dracula, which is so far removed from his ethos as a Malayalam filmmaker? “When I was a teenager, I did read the novel by Bram Stoker and was fascinated,” says Vinayan. “There was a writer called Kottayam Pushpanath. In a Malayalam magazine he would write about Dracula. It would be serialised over several weeks. I would read at night and feel very scared. That memory remained. So when I wanted to do a film on 3D, which would have a good visual impact, I thought of Dracula.”
The Rs 10 crore film will release in October. 

(The New Indian Express, South India and Delhi)  

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