Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Lights, Camera, 'Hallelujah'


Producer Vinod Shornur talks about his experiences in the films, 'Achanuragantha Veedu', 'Spanish Masala', and 'Red Wine'

Photos: Vinod Shornur by Albin Mathew. Mohanlal with Safi

By Shevlin Sebastian

During the shoot of 'Achanuragantha Veedu' (2006), at Peermade, an actor, by the name of DC Nair, played the role of a pastor. For the song, 'Zion Manavalan', he was supposed to raise his hands and say, “Hallelujah.”

No matter how many takes were taken, Nair just could not say 'Hallelujah'.
He could say it in rehearsals, but when the shot had to be taken, he could not speak the word,” says then production-controller Vinod Shornur. “Nair said that when he heard the word, 'Action', he felt a great tension within himself.”

So, at the suggestion of a crew member, director Lal Jose said that, instead of the word, 'Action', he would say, 'Hallelujah'. The song was played, and then Lal Jose shouted, “Hallelujah,” and immediately Nair said, “Action.” The crew members, along with the director, burst out laughing.

But on August 31, 2011, the crew of the Mollywood film, 'Spanish Masala', felt very tense. They were in the town of Bunol, 324 kms from Madrid. A shoot was going to be held, during the world-famous 'La Tomatino' festival, where revellers would throw ripe tomatoes at each other.

In the film scene, Kunchacko Boban was supposed to have fun with Austrian actress, Daniela Zacherl, who plays a Spanish diplomat's daughter. “We had put the cameras at four vantage points much earlier,” says Vinod. “At one location, Lal Jose Sir and [cinematographer] L. Lokanathan were waiting.”

There was so much of shouting and jostling that the crew were not able to communicate with each other. Along with a lady Spanish co-ordinator, by the name of Maria, Vinod was supposed to take Daniela to where Kunchacko was waiting. However, in the crowd, they lost touch with each other. But only Maria knew the correct location.

Nevertheless, Vinod kept his cool. “I knew that we would not get another chance like this,” says Vinod. “This festival takes place, for two hours, on this one day of the year. Somehow, I held Daniela's hand, moved forward and, after much struggle, by accident, I reached the spot where Kunchacko was waiting.”

After the shoot was over, Maria finally spotted Vinod. But she looked downcast. “She thought that the shoot had not taken place,” says Vinod. “But her colleague told her in Spanish that everything had worked out well. And she looked so relieved that she gave me a bright smile.”

There were bright smiles, too, on the sets of 'Red Wine' at Kozhikode During the shoot, at a lodge, just behind the reception desk, an advertisement to cure body ailments was put up, by the unit's art department, along with a mobile number. This belonged to Shafi, who was a member of the crew. But he did not know about it.

From the early morning, the crew members called Shafi, from other phones, asking whether he was a doctor. “I could hear him say that it is a wrong number,” says Vinod. “This went on throughout the day. Once I saw him getting angry asking the caller to check the number before calling.”

Soon, Mohanlal came to the set. When he came to know of the prank, he also called Shafi. Mohanlal changed his voice and said that his wife was unwell. Since the number came as 'Private number, not identified', Shafi thought it was an international call. “He came and told me that people were calling him from abroad,” says Vinod. “By this time, he was so distracted, he could not work properly.”

So, finally, it was Mohanlal who revealed the prank to Shafi and the crew had a big laugh once again. 

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

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