Monday, February 11, 2013

The Indian Dracula

The 6’ tall Sudhir is playing the vampire in Vinayan’s ‘Dracula-2012’. 

By Shevlin Sebastian

One night, in 2009, a shoot was taking place at an old bungalow in Kuttalam for director Vinayan’s ‘Yakshiyum Njanum’. The villain, Sudhir, who was wearing a long white kurta and trousers, was asked to jump over a wall. To increase the impact of the jump, there were several backlights.

When Sudhir leapt over the wall and came forward, Vinayan experienced a feeling of horror.

“He felt it was as if Dracula had jumped over,” says Sudhir.

Vinayan said, “Did anybody tell you that you look like Christopher Lee in Dracula?”

Sudhir shook his head.

Vinayan said, “When you go back home [to Kochi], have a look on the Internet,” said the director.

When Sudhir did so, he felt that Vinayan was right. “My nose and the forehead looked similar to Christopher Lee’s,” says Sudhir. Meanwhile, Vinayan got the germ of an idea: to do an Indian version of Dracula, made world famous, by the best-selling novel of Bram Stoker and by the films in which Christopher Lee played the vampire.

After a while, Vinayan told Sudhir about the story of his Dracula film and concluded with a question: “Do you know who is going to play Dracula?”

Sudhir shook his head.

“It is you,” said Vinayan.

Sudhir started shivering. He had joined the Malayalam film industry in 2003, and had played a villain in the blockbuster hit, ‘CID Moosa’. Thereafter, he acted in several films and in television serials, but this was his first opportunity to play a hero.

To look like a tough Dracula, Sudhir embarked on a vigorous exercise programme, which included weightlifting and treadmill walking, went on a controlled diet, and lost 20 kgs in one year. He was now a fit and trim 80 kgs and at 6’, he gave off energy and determination.
The shoot took place in Alleppey, Chennai, Hyderabad and Romania.

On a cold April morning, last year, in the town of Bran, near the Castle of Dracula, Sudhir was relaxing inside a caravan. He had 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.’

Soon, all the shopkeepers, customers, and local people rushed to the caravan. “They wanted to get the blessings of Dracula,” said Vinayan. “Everybody took photos of Sudhir.” They also showered him with money. After six hours, Sudhir was richer by 1500 leu (Romanian currency) or Rs 45,000. Said one townsman: “We earn our livelihood only because of the castle. Dracula is our God and not a ghost.”

But as the shoot progressed, in the castle, Sudhir got the distinctive feeling that the ghost of Dracula was watching him. “There came a time when I felt afraid to go inside,” he says.
Sudhir might have been afraid, but that did not prevent him from sucking the blood of six nubile women, including the heroine Monal Gajjar. And in trademark Vinayan style, a trailer confirmed that the film is steeped in sensuality. This effect is going to be heightened
because it is a 3D film.

The movie is being released in four languages: Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and English. “But what is most exciting for me is that the worldwide distribution of the English version is being done by Universal Pictures,” says Sudhir. “It is the first time that a major
Hollywood studio has dubbed a Malayalam film into English. And I am
hoping the film will do well everywhere.”

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)

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