Location Diaries: Shivering in Russia
Actress Deepti Sati talks about her experiences in the films Nee-Na and Jaguar
Deepti Sati’s very first scene in her career, for Lal Jose’s Nee-Na (2015), was to take place outside a cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia. “It was a very old and famous cathedral,” says Deepti. “There is a belief that if you went inside and prayed, you will get what you wish for.”
So, Deepti, accompanied by Lal Jose and cinematographer Jomon T John went inside and prayed. Later, when they stepped outside, it was snowing. The temperature was minus three degrees centigrade. “Through the camera lens, it looked so pretty, but I was literally freezing,” says Deepti. “As someone who grew up in Mumbai, I have never experienced such chilly weather.”
The shoot was for the song, I remember you. Deepti was wearing a trench coat and thick woollen clothes, as well as boots, and a muffler. In one scene, she was supposed to walk down a street. However, because of the cold, the sidewalks had ice on them. Not surprisingly, the actress slipped and fell. “Lal Jose sir and the crew had a big laugh,” she says. “Nevertheless, it was a fun shoot.”
On another day, they were shooting in a large park. Deepti was sitting on a bench when she noticed a one-year-old boy, in a red jacket and red shoes, lying on a mound of snow, not moving at all. Deepti had a sudden fear that something had happened to the baby.
She turned to the director and said, “Lal Jose sir, the baby is not moving at all.” So Lal Jose ran up to the boy. As he did so, the infant opened his eyes and began smiling. The mother, who was standing nearby, said, “No, no, nothing has happened. He is just enjoying being in the snow.”
Meanwhile, according to the script, Deepti needed to have her hair in a bob cut. They went to a saloon in St. Petersburg. A young and pretty Russian hair-dresser was assigned the task. She was very excited that Deepti was acting in a film. “I will watch the film,” she said.
Meanwhile, Lal Jose was very nervous. He was not sure how it would all turn out. However, when the haircut was completed and a nervous Lal Jose saw it, he broke out into a smile and said, “I have finally got my Nee-Na.” Deepti adds, “By God’s grace, the haircut really suited me.”
But a 7 am shoot, back in Kochi, did not suit Deepti at all. She was supposed to sit on a bike, in a parking lot, smoking a cigarette when actor Vijay Babu would arrive in a car. “It was the first scene in the morning,” says Deepti. “I did not have my breakfast. Lal sir did not know about it. Right after the scene, I felt giddy, because I had inhaled the smoke, and so, I vomited. Lal Jose sir was very worried. But after fifteen minutes, I felt okay.”
For the shoot of the Kannada/Telugu film, Jaguar (2016), Deepti’s character had a pet dog called Arnold. It was a Shih Tzu, which is thought to have originated in Tibet. “I loved the dog a lot,” says Deepti. “But Arnold found it difficult to handle the heat because it is an animal which has lots of hair.”
Unfortunately, the shoot was in mid-May, at the Infosys campus in Mysore. There was a scene when Deepti had to look at the dog and pull his face towards her. “We did a lot of takes, but it did not come out well,” says Deepti. “And then suddenly when I pulled Arnold's face, he scratched me. It was on my hand, and no blood came out. There was a long mark and it remained for a long time. Now, thankfully, it is no longer there.”