Wednesday, February 08, 2017

When A Cow Gave Birth


Production controller Aroma Mohan talks about his experiences in the films, 'Thinkalazcha Nalla Divasam', 'Commissioner', and 'Oru CBI Diary Kurippu (Jagratha) 

Photo by Melton Anthony 

By Shevlin Sebastian

For 'Thinkalazcha Nalla Divasam' (1985), director P. Padmarajan made an unusual request. He wanted a cow to give birth during the shoot of the film. The aim was to show the pain of childbirth.

Poojappura Radhakrishnan, who was an assistant to Padmarajan, was given the responsibility. “Somehow he managed to locate such a cow,” says production controller Aroma Mohan. “He checked with a veterinary doctor who confirmed that it was nine months pregnant. Like human beings, they also give birth in the ninth month.”

The cow, with black and white skin, was brought to the location at Pravachambalam, in Thiruvananthapuram. “Padmarajan insisted that whatever time the cow gave birth, the entire crew should be present,” says Mohan. “After every day's shoot, we made sure a security guard kept watch, so that he could inform us in case the labour pains began.”

One day, in the afternoon, the news came that the cow was on its way to giving birth. The crew immediately gathered around. “Padmarajan shot the entire sequence, lasting four hours,” says Mohan. “He used up 800 feet of film, but, in the end, showed only a few minutes on the screen.”

In the film, Kaviyoor Ponnamma plays the matriarch, who lives in a large bungalow. Her children, played by Karamana Janardanan Nair, Mammooty and Ashokan, have plans to sell the house. “So, that was the significance of the calf's birth,” says Mohan. “Padmarajan wanted to show that children forget the pain that a mother undergoes on behalf of them.”

Meanwhile, in the script, for the film, 'Commissioner' (1994), scriptwriter Renji Panicker wrote this line: 'In front of the Thiruvananthapuram University College, there should be a lathi-charge.'

More than a thousand junior artistes were roped in. There were actual policemen, from the special armed police camp, at Peroorkada, as well as make-believe ones. A Circle Inspector (CI) also wanted to take part. “I told him that if he could stand a little distance away, as we had placed several dust bombs at different places,” says Mohan. “He said, 'I have seen so many actual bombs bursting, so what is a dust bomb?'”

Soon, the shooting began. All the bombs burst, on schedule. There was dust all around. The next thing Mohan noticed was the CI looking completely black, because he was covered with dust, from top to bottom. The unit members panicked. They decided to take him to the Medical College Hospital.”

After a check-up, the doctors confirmed that he was not injured at all,” says Mohan.

But the shoot came to a halt. And it needed the intervention of K. Karunakaran, the then chief minister, to enable the crew to do the shoot on another day.

At the Vismaya studio, at Giri Nagar, Kochi, Mohan pauses, and sips a cup of coffee, before he launches on his next tale. “For 'Oru CBI Diary Kurippu (Jagratha)', there is a scene where murder suspects are standing in rows for an identification parade on an open ground,” says Mohan.

The climax needed to be finished in one day. Director K. Madhu felt tense. But Janardhanan, Jagathy and the other actors seem to be laughing at some joke. Jagathy had a cloth packet in his hand. Madhu looked at them and shouted, “Silence.”

Jagathy quickly gave the cloth packet to Janardhanan, who took it instinctively.

When Madhu spotted the packet, he got very angry with Janardhanan, as it was not relevant to the scene. But Jagathy kept a straight face. However, in the evening, when the shoot was over, Jagathy went to Madhu and confessed that the packet belonged to him. The director gave a knowing smile. 

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

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