Friday, May 06, 2016

Going Inside A Well Filled With Snakes

COLUMN: Location Diary

Actor Narain talks about his experiences in the films, ‘Kaththukkutti’, ‘Achuvinte Amma’ and ‘4 The People’

Photos: Narain and Srushti Dange in the Tamil film, ‘Kaththukkutti’; Narain and Meera Jasmine in the Malayalam film, ‘Achuvinte Amma’
By Shevlin Sebastian

In April, last year, the actor Narain was in Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu. This was for the location shoot for the Tamil film, ‘Kaththukkutti’.

Narain played a character who is fighting for the cause of farmers. But, in one scene, where he is escaping from the cops, the heroine, Bhuvana, played by Srushti Dange, in order that he gets captured, pushes him into a huge well.

The previous day, the crew saw that the well was dry. So they arranged for a tanker lorry to pump in the water.

But the next morning when they came to the well, they saw that there were hundreds of snakes floating about, apart from scorpions. “They had been sheltering in the hollows of the brick wall,” says Narain. “Once the water level came up, they all came out. Till afternoon, the villages had to get into the well and take out the snakes. One villager said, ‘Forget the snakes, have a look at the black scorpions’. I felt frightened.”

Soon, the all-clear was given. As Narain was about to go down, hanging on a rope, a villager said, “I can see one more snake.”

Eventually, Narain remained hanging on the rope, a few feet above the water. “I had to look upwards, since the camera was at the top,” he says. “I did not know whether a snake was going to come up the wall, and attack me. It was a most frightening experience.”

In the end, the shoot went through without any mishap and it was a very relieved Narain who got out of the well. “But I will never forget it,” he says, with a relieved smle.

Like being in the well, Narain was in a financial hole when he set out for the shoot of ‘Achuvinte Amma’ at Kozhikode in 2006. He stopped at an ATM counter to draw some money. But when he used his ICICI Bank debit card, he got a shock to be told that his account was minus Rs 2000. “My calculations had gone wrong,” he says. “I think I had told somebody to put in some money and he had not done so.”

At the shoot, the scene was about Narain taking Achu (Meera Jasmine) out on a treat. “And she is asking me whether I have any money,” says Narain. “And that was when I show her a debit card, and tell her there are thousands of rupees in my account.”

But the card that the crew showed Narain did not look so good. So he asked director Sathyan Anthikad whether he could use his own card. The director agreed. “So when I was giving the dialogue to Meera, and showing my card, I was thinking to myself that just ten minutes ago, I had the opposite experience.”

Narain smiles when he says that. “In an actor’s life, there are many ups and downs,” he says. “You have to learn to go with the flow.”

Going with the flow happened during the shoot of ‘4 The People’ (2004), his second film. When Narain arrived at the location, at Kochi, he was expected to play one of the four heroes. Suddenly, director Jairaj said, “Narain, you will be playing a young cop. But before that, you have to do a screen test.”

Narain felt tense and nervous. Many members of the crew stood around and watched him. Jairaj Sir gave Narain a dialogue on a piece of paper and asked him to say it. “I did so, although it was a tense moment for me,” says Narain.

Nevertheless, Narain passed the test, was selected for the role. Eventually, ‘4 The People’ became a bumper hit, Narain’s role was praised and he established his name in Mollywood. 

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

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