COLUMN: LOCATION DIARY
Director Jibu Jacob talks about his experiences in the films, 'Aayushkalam', 'Stop Violence', 'The Guard' and 'Narayam'
Photos: Jibu Jacob; entrance to the New Indian Express, Kochi
By Shevlin Sebastian
One day, in early 1992, Jibu Jacob stood at the entrance of the long corridor, leading to the New Indian Express, at Kaloor, Kochi. He took a deep breath, and began walking with cinematographer Salu George. It was his first day in Mollywood. On the third floor, in an open space, a hospital set had been constructed. This was for Kamal's film, 'Aayushkalam'.
“I saw [actors] Jayaram and Mukesh sitting around,” says Jibu. “I had only read about these stars and seen them on the screen. But now I was seeing them in the flesh. I felt very nervous. But Salu Chettan calmed me down. Looking back, this is one of the reasons why I will never forget the 'New Indian Express'. It was the place where my career began.”
Jibu's solo cinematography career began with 'Stop Violence' (2002). For an action sequence, the shooting was done on MG Road, Kochi, while hiding the camera from view. “So the people did not know that a shoot was going on,” says Jibu.
Two groups of actors, one of which was led by Vinayak, were fighting each other. Blows were exchanged. A few people began running away. It was one continuous shoot. “Suddenly, the bystanders began to interfere,” says Jibu. “They thought it was an actual fight taking place. We had to immediately bring the shoot to an end. And it took us quite a while to convince the people it was not an actual fight.”
Meanwhile, what Jibu experienced at the location of the film, 'Guard', which starred the late Kalabhavan Mani, was an actual experience. One day, the shoot concluded early, at the Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary, at Palakkad. So Jibu, along with his colleague, Sreejith, got onto the jeep. As they travelled, in the distance they saw a herd of elephants. So, they stopped to observe the animals. “The driver, however, warned us to be careful,” says Jibu. “Elephants can get aggressive, especially, if there are calves in the herd. As we continued staring, two elephants started charging towards us.”
The panicked trio ran back to the jeep. But the driver, because of fear and nervousness, could not start the vehicle. He kept trying, but the jeep would not start. Jibu looked back. The elephants were getting closer and closer. Jibu and Sreejith shouted, “Come on, hurry up!” And, after a few agonising seconds, the jeep came to life, the driver pressed their accelerator, and they were able to make their escape. “It was a close shave,” says Jibu.
The director also had a close shave while working in the film, 'Narayam' (1993). One day, the shooting finished at 3.30 p.m., at the location at Mannur, in Kozhikode. The crew were travelling on a Commander jeep. Jibu sat at the back, with his legs dangling outside.
Near the Feroke bridge, the jeep came to a halt behind a bus at a stop. When Jibu looked out, he saw another bus. So, he pulled his legs back. But as the second bus came down the bridge, somehow, the driver lost control and hit the jeep with full force. Jibu lost consciousness.
When he next opened his eyes, he discovered that he was lying on a bed in the Medical College Hospital at Kozhikode. “But, thankfully, I did not suffer any injuries. I was very lucky,” says Jibu. “But Satish, the art director, who was sitting in the middle, received the full impact. His spine got damaged. Unfortunately, he was bed-ridden for two years.”
(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode)