Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Falling Face-Down


Actress Kaniha talks about her experiences in the Tamil film, 'Five Star', the Telugu film, 'Ottesi Chepputunna', and an unexpected meeting with a Malayalam superstar

By Shevlin Sebastian

Kaniha was feeling happy. For her first film, 'Five Star' (2002), she was shooting in Berne, Switzerland. She was so enthusiastic that when there was no shoot involving her, she would stand beside the director, Susi Ganeshan, and use the clapperboard.

One morning, on the penultimate day of the shoot, the crew had got inside a bus. They were about to do a picturisation for the song, 'Thiru Thiruda'. As Kaniha stepped in, she realised that she had forgotten her jacket. So she ran out, went to the hotel, collected it, and returned.

As she was about to step into the bus, she slipped and landed face-down on the road. “I had blood all over my face,” she says. “I had no clue from where it was coming.”

The crew rushed her to a hospital, but it took almost an hour. While there, the doctors realised that there was a severe cut in the gums. So they stitched it together. When Kaniha stepped out of the hospital, she noticed that there was dried-up blood all over her dress.

Suddenly, the director said, “Let's shoot. We have to finish the schedule.”

Kaniha got a shock. “I was thinking to myself, 'What a cruel world I am living in',” she says.

During the shoot, they took shots of Kaniha, in silhouette, so that nobody could notice there was anything wrong with her. Says Kaniha, “It would take a few more years for me to realise that what Susi did was right. The producer had spent lakhs of rupees, so the shoot had to be finished on schedule. Otherwise, there would be cost overruns.”

In January, 2003, Kaniha had another chance to go abroad. This was for her first Telugu film, 'Ottesi Chepputunna'. The shoot was at Queenstown, New Zealand. Hero Srikkanth wore a gaudy yellow shirt and trousers, while Kaniha wore a green and red costume for the picturisation of a song.

The crew placed us in the middle of a busy street,” says Kaniha. “Since the camera was placed on the top of a building, nobody could see it.” But thanks to a microphone in their ears, the actors would start dancing following instructions from the director E Sattibabu.

We would dance, but the local bystanders thought that we were street performers, since they could not see the camera. So, they would throw coins at us,” says Kaniha. “It was so embarrassing. In between shots, I stood at one side and thought, 'What am I doing here? People are throwing money at me!'.” Somehow, the shoot concluded quickly.

But Kaniha did not want another event to end quickly. Recently, she took a morning flight from Chennai to Kochi. Feeling drowsy, she put on her sunglasses and went off into a deep sleep. “Suddenly, I felt somebody tap me,” she says. “I woke up, feeling very irritated. And then I got a shock.”

It was superstar Mohanlal. An ecstatic Kaniha shouted, “Lalettan.”

The last film they worked together was 'Spirit' (2012). “I had not seen him for a while,” she says. “When you are shooting or at an award function, you have very little time to talk to each other.”

But, this time, the duo enjoyed 50 minutes of uninterrupted conversation. “We talked about cinema, about Lalettan's projects,” says Kaniha. “He was open to talk about any subject. Lalettan is extremely well-read and knowledgeable. I could have an intelligent conversation with him. It was a memorable experience for me.” 

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

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