Location Diaries: Thrills in a train
This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and this week it is Server Sundaram
Vaibhavi Shandilya is a self-confessed foodie. During the shoot of her upcoming film, Server Sundaram, starring Santhanam, it was this that led to an unforgettable experience.
She says it all started on a train from Tenkasi to Chennai, when she was travelling with the cast and crew after the completion of the shoot. As the unit was sizeable, they couldn’t all be accommodated in one compartment. And so, Vaibhavi and a couple of others were seated in a different compartment. All through the journey, she had only one thought apparently. “I knew Madurai is home to amazing non-vegetarian food. So, even before the train reached the Madurai station, I called a restaurant and asked them to deliver food at the station. They were sweet enough to agree to do this.”
At the station, she got down along with one of Santhanam’s assistants, to fetch the food. But the duo got delayed and the train was about to leave. “We got into a different bogie and realised that neither of us had our phone to inform the unit that we were safe. So we decided to get down at the next station. But by the time Tiruchchirappalli arrived, we had started eating and were not able to finish,” she says, laughing. “So we waited for the next station and around 2-2.15 am, we got down at Virudhachalam.”
But they didn’t know that the halt was only for two minutes. “We couldn’t walk inside the train, as there was a partition between the AC 2 tier and 3 tier. So we had no option but to get down,” she explains. “As we began walking towards the next bogie, the train started moving! The assistant began gesticulating and wildly screaming something. He wasn’t fluent in English and I don’t know a lot of Tamil. So, I didn’t quite understand if he was asking me to stop or run,” she says. “I simply started running after the train to get to the nearest door.”
But the two closest doors were shut. They started panicking. “The third one was almost getting shut, when we started banging on it. Fortunately, a stranger opened it for us,” she says.
Vaibhavi heaved a sigh of relief when she realised that they could now just walk through to Santhanam’s compartment. “We had to cross three more bogies to reach Santhanam’s bogie. But as we walked inside the train, I saw why some of those doors couldn’t be opened. Some had luggage placed against them while some others had people sleeping near the door. We were fortunate not to get stuck at Virudhachalam station in the middle of the night, with no money or phone!”
Finally, they reached the unit members and narrated their tale. “There was a lot of relief,” she says. “There were also a lot of people laughing at the drama of it all.”