Thursday, March 23, 2017

Shooting On The 27th Floor


Director Lijo Jose Pellissery talks about his experiences on the films, 'Angamaly Diaries', 'Amen' and 'Double Barrel'

Photos: Lijo Jose Pellissery; the posters of 'Angamaly Diaries' and 'Amen'

By Shevlin Sebastian

On a windy day in January, director Lijo Jose Pellissery, cinematographer Girish Ganghadaran, a few crew members, as well as the hero of 'Angamaly Diaries' Antony Varghese were standing on the 27th floor of a building in Bahrain. Next to the building was a tower crane.

In the film, Vincent Pepe, played by Antony, following his marriage to Lichi (Reshma Rajan), in Angamaly, was working as a tower crane operator in a construction company at Bahrain.

We wanted to use a drone, and show Antony sitting in the cabin of the crane,” says Lijo. “It was a sunset scene.”

However, what came as a shock, was that there was no lift to enter the cabin. “So, we did not know how Antony was going to enter the cabin,” says Lijo. In the end, Anthony had to hold onto the side of the crane, on the 27th floor, and carefully make his way to the cabin.

At that height, there was a strong breeze blowing. “But Antony was brave, although it was a risky thing to do,” says Lijo. “In the end, it turned out to be a brilliant and realistic shot. In fact, it was the last scene of the film.”

There were many realistic scenes in 'Angamaly Diaries'. At the start of the film, a group of actors, in fancy dress, looking like Jesus Christ, a nun, and a solider were having drinks. The soldier, Paripp Marti, was played by actor Sreekanth Dasan. Soon, there was a skirmish with an opposing group and the two groups rushed down the steps of the first-floor bar.

In the melee, Sreekanth got his nose dislocated,” says Lijo. “We had to rush him to the hospital. It took him four days to recover.”

There were several fight sequences in the film. As a result, there were quite a few injuries. “This happened so often, that the nurses and doctors asked us, half-jokingly, whether it was actually a cinema shoot that was going on,” says Lijo with a smile. “But the actors were all dedicated to making a true-to-life movie.”

This dedication could also be seen in Lijo's earlier blockbuster, 'Amen'. In a scene, on a narrow bridge, there was a confrontation between Solomon (Fahadh Faasil) and his love interest Shoshanna (Swati Reddy), with the local Catholic priest's assistant Kochuousep (played by Sunil Sukhada) standing in the middle.

As Shoshanna accused Solomon of wanting to abandon her, because of his plans to become a priest, Kochuousep tried to persuade the girl to forget about Solomon. But so incensed was Shoshanna that she pushed Kochuousep away. And Kochuousep fell from a height into the water. “It was not very clean water,” says Lijo. “But Sunil unhesitatingly jumped. That showed his dedication.”

But sometimes, this dedication can be risky, too. In Lijo's 'Double Barrel', he wanted to shoot a fight sequence between two gangs using a helicam. The location was on a hill in Goa. At one side was the famous Vagathor beach. For some reason, the helicam signal was not working. So, the operators were running after the helicam, with their remote, to get the signal working.

Without realising it, they had reached the edge of the hill,” says Lijo. “At the last moment, our crew members managed to hold on to them before they slipped over the edge. I have never forgotten how close they were to falling off.”

Thankfully, the signal soon started working and they were able to shoot the scene. “For everything to work well, on a shoot, you need a large dose of luck,” says Lijo. 

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

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