Thursday, July 07, 2016

Tips From Prem Nazir


Captain Raju talks about his experiences in the films, 'Raktam', 'Aana' and Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha'

Photos: Capt. Raju with his wife Premila. Photo by TP Sooraj. MT Vasudevan Nair (left) with Capt. Raju 

By Shevlin Sebastian

In the film, ‘Raktam’ (1981), Capt. Raju had a fight sequence with Madhu at the Rama Varma club at Kochi. The crew had placed small sheets of wood (the pattika) of an old house on the floor. As Madhu hit Capt. Raju, with a shovel, the latter fell on the wood.

Mollyood legends Prem Nazir, Soman and Srividya were watching silently.  

Once the shot was over, Prem Nazir said, “Captain Raju, please come here.”

When the actor went near, Prem Nazir said, “Captain, look carefully at the wood. There are numerous nails sticking out. I understand your anxiety to do well. This is your first film. But you have to be careful. If you fall and a nail enters you, especially if it is your face, then what will happen? Director Joshy will say, ‘Pack up’. Then you will have to be taken to the hospital to be given a tetanus injection because the nails are rusted. And your career might come to a stop before it has started.”

At his first-floor apartment, at Kochi, a moved Capt. Raju, 66, who has acted in more than 400 films, says, “Which superstar will tell something like this to a newcomer? I have never forgotten it. Prem Nazir Sir was a star with so much of humanity.”

However, owing to the compulsions of shooting, Capt. Raju did take some risks. In ‘Aana’ (1983), directed by P. Chandrakumar, the shoot took place in a forest at Koothatukulam. The ‘Aana’ was an elephant from Uttar Pradesh, who would only listen to instructions in Hindi. In one scene, the elephant chases a forest officer played by Capt. Raju.

As the captain started running, he came in front of a tall tree which had a long creeper hanging from it. “Chandrakumar Sir shouted at me to grab the creeper and climb up,” says Capt. Raju. “Since I had done rock climbing during my military training, I had strong biceps and triceps. So I went up swiftly and reached a height of 40 feet.”  

Down below, Capt Raju heard the mahout shout, “Pull at the creeper.”

The elephant pulled so hard that Capt Raju found himself hurtling towards the ground. The crew below looked shocked. Chandrakumar shouted, “Oh my God.”

Luckily, the tree had a fork and the creeper got stuck. “I stopped just two feet away from the upturned tusks,” says Capt. Raju. “Otherwise, I would have been gored to death.”

The panic-stricken crew rushed Capt Raju to the hospital, but there was not much damage. “There was skin lacerations on the shoulders and the back, as well as a pain in my legs,” says Capt. Raju. “God saved my life.”  

Capt. Raju had another life-enhancing moment. This was during the shoot of 'Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha' (1989), which was based on a script by Jnanpith Award winner MT Vasudevan Nair. Capt. Raju plays kalarippayattu master Aringodar who has a fight with Aromal, played by Suresh Gopi. After the encounter, Aringodar sits on a chair, places his right leg on top of his left knee, and drinks a green coconut. Then Aromal says, “You fought in the wrong way.” 

Aringodar stopped drinking, threw the coconut behind him, and said, “There is a lack of knowledge on your part. That is all that I have to say.”

After the shot was over, Capt. Raju got a pat on his shoulders. “When I looked back, I saw that it was MT,” says Capt. Raju. “He was showing his appreciation of my acting. I will never forget it. It was like winning the Oscar.” 

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

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