Thursday, November 05, 2015

When The Mind Went Blank

COLUMN: Location Diary

Aparna Gopinath talks about her experiences on the sets of 'Munnariyippu' and 'ABCD'

Photo: Aparna Gopinath and Mammooty in the film, 'Munnariyippu'

By Shevlin Sebastian

On a summer morning, in March, 2014, Aparna Gopinath felt nervous and excited at the same time. Today would be the day that she would be shooting her first scene opposite superstar Mammooty in the film, 'Munnariyippu'. While Mammooty plays convict C.K. Raghavan, Aparna is a journalist by the name of Anjali Arakkal, who is ghost-writing the autobiography of the jail superintendent.

So, just before Mammooty arrived on the set, at Kozhikode, Aparna went about mouthing the dialogues to all and sundry on the set. “Instead of saying good morning, all I said was my dialogues,” she says.

Finally, Mammooty arrived. The scene was set in an office of a jail. But when Mammooty came and stood opposite Aparna, inexplicably, she went blank. So when director Venu said, “Action,” there was no sound from Aparna. And this went on for 16 takes.

All my self-confidence was shattered,” she says. “And I began to feel that I am the worst actor alive in Mollywood. I looked at Venu Sir with a most apologetic face.”

In fact, when Venu had signed Aparna for the film, he had specifically mentioned that there would be no prompting. “This meant that I had to memorise all the dialogues,” she says.

Eventually, Mammooty got into the action. He came in front of the camera and said, “I will show you what to do.” And Aparna immediately said, “No, Sir, I will get even more confused.”

What was surprising was that Aparna had to only say a simple dialogue: “If there is nobody, I will be there for you.”

Finally, Aparna said, tongue-in-cheek, “Mammooty Sir, I think it is better that you say the dialogue to me.” This brought a smile to the superstar's face.

This was one of my most unforgettable experiences on a set,” she says. “Mammooty Sir was a darling, and never got upset at all.”

But he did tease her. So whenever an assistant would inform him that everything was ready for the next shot, Mammooty would say, “Does the heroine have any lines?” And if the answer was yes, he would immediately say, “Then I will come after five minutes. Ask her to learn the lines.”

Incidentally, this was not Aparna's first experience. For her debut film, 'ABCD', in September, 2012, there was a shoot at the Cochin University of Science and Technology at Kochi. Aparna played Madhumitha, a college student, who was the love interest of Dulquer Salmaan.

She had to give a three-page dialogue. But the director, Martin Prakkat, said that they would shoot it in bits. “So I learnt, according to the cuts, as suggested by Martin,” says Aparna. However, the next day, when Aparna came to the set, Martin suddenly said, “We will shoot it in one take.”

And Aparna went completely blank. 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram) 

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