Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Panic During A Gas Leak


Actor Esther Anil talks about her experiences in the Malayalam and Tamil versions of 'Drishyam'

Photo by Swaroop Sankar

By Shevlin Sebastian

At a bungalow, outside Thodupuzha, during the shoot of the Malayalam film, 'Drishyam', in October, 2013, a birthday cake was being cut for Murali, Mohanlal's costume designer. The crew was keen to have a piece, as well as ladoos and other snacks. So they were hovering around the table. But, suddenly, a gas cylinder began to leak at the back of the house.

I saw [director] Jeethu Uncle and his wife Linta Aunty running into the nearby rubber plantation,” says child artist Esther Anil. Mohanlal, who was in his room, also got the message. Soon, he hurried out.

Very soon, panic set in,” says Esther. “Then we all began to run.” However, in the melee, Esther and her mother, Manju, fell to the ground. “We felt dazed,” says Esther. “In the end we managed to move away.”

It took a while before the leak was stopped. The people then trooped back, and shooting resumed once again.

During one scene, Kalabhavan Shajohn, who dons the role of Constable Sahadevan, is supposed to kick Mohanlal, who plays cable business operator Georgekutty, on the chest. “Lalettan told Shajohn Chettan to give an actual kick,” says Esther. “Otherwise, it would not be realistic.”

So Shajohn raised his leg, and, at that moment, he slipped, and fell flat on his back. “The entire crew began laughing,” says Esther. “Lalettan also laughed out aloud. Shahjohn Chettan felt embarrassed. After all, he was supposed to be a policeman.”

Meanwhile, during the shoot of 'Papanasam' [the Tamil version of 'Drishyam'], again, at Thodupuzha, one day, actress Gautami told Esther and Manju that Michelle Mann, from New Zealand, a friend of Shruti Haasan [Kamal Haasan's daughter] was coming to visit the town.

So, one day, all of them, including Michelle, went on a road trip.

On the way, Michelle read a board which said, 'Toddy'. She asked what it was. “We told her it is a drink,” says Esther. “She wanted to taste it. So, my mother and I went into the shop and bought a small bottle.”

When they gave it to her, Michelle tightened the cap and said she would try it in her hotel room. “The next day, in the presence of Kamal Sir, we asked Michelle whether she liked the toddy,” says Esther. “Michelle replied that she could not taste a single drop.”

When she unscrewed the cap, the contents burst out and fell all over the floor. “One reason was because it had been screwed too hard,” says Esther. “Another was that, in the car, the bottle had received a lot of jolts. And all that contributed to the explosion.”

Later, for the Telugu version of 'Drishyam', Esther and Manju had gone to Hyderabad for the shoot. But soon after they reached there, they realised that everybody spoke in Telugu.

When we wanted a glass of water we had to show the action of drinking water,” says Esther. “The same was the case of ordering different types of food, like eggs and fish. After a while, we got used to it.”

Then, one day, a new chef arrived. When he asked what food they wanted, Esther went into the same elaborate actions. Finally, he said, in Malayalam, “'Mole', what exactly do you want to eat?”

Dasan was the only Malayali on the set. He told Esther, “Next time, you don't need to do any actions. Just tell me directly.” 

The New Indian Express, Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram)

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