Thursday, February 25, 2016

When Everybody Said It Was Bad Luck


Director Siddique talks about his experiences on the film, 'Godfather'

By Shevlin Sebastian

Director Siddique felt nervous. Crew members of the film, 'Godfather' (1992), had told him that to start a shoot on a Sunday would bring bad luck. When he informed this to the producer, Swargachitra Appachan, the latter told his long-time astrologer, “Many films, which began their shooting on Sunday, had become flops. So, should we avoid it?”

The astrologer was adamant that there was nothing wrong in filming on a Sunday. “We believed in him,” says Siddique. “For our hit films, like ‘Ramji Rao Speaking’ and ‘Harihar Nagar’, he had given us the auspicious time to start shooting.”

So, the crew gathered at Kozhikode on Sunday, August 18, 1991. Only actor Mukesh was present. Initially, Siddique was planning to do some outdoor scenes with the star. But the omens were not good. It began raining so heavily, that there was no chance to do any shooting. “In fact, the streets had become flooded,” says Siddique. “The weather forecast said that it would rain for another four days.”

So, they went in for an indoor shoot at the government guest house on West Hill. Later, at Kappad beach, the song, 'Pookkalam Vannu Pookkalam', sung by Unni Menon and KS Chitra was picturised with Mukesh and Kanaka. “Again we were told that whenever songs were shot at Kappad beach, the movie flopped,” says Siddique. “But we ignored it. Then we went to the top of a nearby hill, which is a familiar spot for film-makers. This was also a place which had a lot of bad luck. On top of that, the shoot was on a Sunday, too.”

On Kanaka’s last day, thereafter, she was scheduled to act in a Tamil film, the scene was supposed to take place at the government guest house. The shot shows Kanaka coming to visit Mukesh and Jagadish who are staying in a room. “But the room we were supposed to shoot in, to ensure continuity with the earlier scenes, had been occupied by a judge,” says Siddique. “The manager immediately said he can provide another room, as he could not ask the judge to move. We were in a dilemma. And did not know what to do.”

Finally, production executive Babu Shahir got up the courage and approached the judge and told him about their predicament. “The judge immediately agreed to move,” says Siddique. “Members of our crew helped to take his luggage to another room. And we could do the shooting.”

Then two days before the release date, the wife of the noted writer Muttathu Varkey filed a stay order in a court in Kottayam stating that the story was plagiarised from a work written by her husband. Somehow, Siddique managed to get the stay vacated, and released the film on time.

As is now well known, 'Godfather' became a huge hit. And it set a unique record when it ran for 405 days in Sreekumar theatre at Thiruvananthapuram.

Meanwhile the case went on for two years. “The lawyer made several attempts to reach a financial compromise, but I refused,” says Siddique. “I was determined to win, because it was a slur against my integrity.” In the end, the case was thrown out of court.

Asked about the success of 'Godfather', despite so many bad signs, the multi-hit director smiles, at his home in Kochi, and says, “The film industry has too many blind beliefs. If your mind is clean, if the road you take is straight, if you are truthful, and the script is great, then the film will do well.” 

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

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