COLUMN: LOCATION DIARY
Veteran stuntmaster Mafia Sasi talks about his experiences on the films, 'Ee Pattanathil Bhootham', 'Best Actor' and 'Ordinary'
Photo by K. Shijith
By Shevlin Sebastian
One day, veteran stunt master Mafia Sasi was travelling by car from Kuttikanam to Thiruvananthapuram. On the way, he saw a lorry driver lose control, and hit an autorickshaw. Thereafter, the lorry ended up hitting the driver's door of the car Sasi was travelling in.
Sasi's left elbow was placed on the window sill, at the back, and because of the collision, his hand went back and hit the side of the car at great force. “The bone broke,” says Sasi.
At that time, Sasi was working on two films at the same time: one was for a Hindi film by director Murali Nagavally at Kuttikanam. The other was for the Prithviraj starrer, 'Vaasthavam', by M. Padmakumar at Thiruvananthapuram.
On the set, a bit earlier, Padmakumar had said, “Mafia Sasi will not come, since he is busy on the other set. I am sure he will send an assistant.” So when Sasi called and said he had an accident, Padmakumar laughed and said, “I am sure this is an excuse.” It took a while before Padmakumar was convinced that Sasi was injured.
For Johny Antony’s 'Ee Pattanathil Bhootham' (2009), Sasi was scared that Mammooty would get injured. The shoot was on the banks of the Periyar river, in front of the Shiva temple, at Aluva. Hundreds of people had assembled to watch Mammooty. A stunt scene regarding a motorcycle was planned.
So Sasi told Mammooty, “Sir, we can do this shot on a set and add the background later, on the computer. If some mishap takes place, then it will look bad.”
But Mammooty did not agree. “Let the people understand how difficult it is to do a scene like this,” he said. “They should see the effort that we put in.”
So, a rope was tied around Mammooty's waist as well as the bike. Then the superstar drove at high speed and went up a ramp and sailed through the air.
Soon, the shoot ended. “The audience began clapping and cheering loudly,” says Sasi. “Most stars would have avoided taking such a risk, but Mammooty has always been bold.”
And sensitive, too. In 'Best Actor' (2010) there is a fight sequence where Mammooty asks Sasi who he is. “I am Mafia Sasi,” says the veteran. Then Mammooty says, in a mocking tone, “Did your father give you that name?”
Much later, when Mammooty met Sasi on another film shoot, he said, “Did you mind that I said that dialogue about your father?”
Sasi said, “Sir, it is a film dialogue. So, I am not upset at all.”
Sasi was indeed surprised that a superstar like Mammooty kept it in his mind. “He has retained his sensitivity, despite so much success,” says Sasi.
Meanwhile, sometimes, things don't go according to plan on the sets. At the climax of 'Ordinary' (2012), there was a scene on a dam, at Gavi, where Asif Ali was supposed to run down, reach the middle, climb a railing and jump off, in an act of suicide. “Initially, Asif jumped a couple of feet and then we pulled him back, with our ropes,” says Sasi. “The rest of the fall was shown through graphics.”
(Published in The New Indian Express, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode)