Location Diaries: Height matters
Actor Riyaz Khan talks about his experiences working on the films, Cheena Thaana 001, Mayilattam and Casanova
In Cheena Thaana 001 (2007) the Tamil version of the Malayalam blockbuster CID Moosa, Riyaz Khan played the role of Assistant Commissioner Gowrishankar. Riyaz had several scenes with the hero Prasanna. For these scenes, he was accompanied by many policemen. On the day of the shoot, at Film City, Chennai, Riyaz met up with the other policemen. They sat on chairs and had an intense discussion about their scenes. But when they stood up, Riyaz got a shock. “They were all above 6'2”, while I am 5'8”,” he says. Initially, Riyaz stood atop a platform during the indoor shoots. But he expected to face problems when the production went outdoors and there would be long shots.
One day, as Riyaz was about to enter his caravan, he noticed some members of the art department digging up mud with shovels. “I was puzzled,” he says. “Maybe, it was for a scene in the film. Anyway, I wore my police uniform and got my make-up done.” When Riyaz went to the location, he realised what had happened. The height of the hole was the difference in height between Riyaz and the tall extras. “So, the director asked the tall men to stand in the hole,” says Riyaz. “It seemed now I was on par with the men. In some places, where the hole had been dug deeper, I looked much taller than them.” Riyaz couldn't help but burst out laughing. “It was an innovative idea,” he says.
Meanwhile, during the shoot of Mayilattam (2004) actor Jayaram offered Riyaz a drink from a nearby temple. “If you have it you will feel relaxed,” said Jayaram. So, at night, Riyaz went to Jayaram's hotel room and collected it. When he returned to his room, Jayaram called on the intercom and said, “Riyaz, just have a little bit only.” Now curious, Riyaz opened it and drank the reddish-black liquid. He noticed it had a sweet taste. Since Riyaz did not experience any high, he had another glass.
Soon, room service brought the food. After dinner, Riyaz had one more glass and then he locked the door. He lay down on the bed and closed his eyes. Hours passed. Riyaz could sense some noise. But he was too deep in sleep to notice anything. When he woke up, he decided to get ready to go to the location. The reporting time was 8 am. As he entered the bathroom to have his bath, he casually looked at his watch and got a shock. It was 11.30 am. He opened the door and asked some crew members, “Why did you not call me?” They laughed and said, “Sir, we almost broke down the door trying to awaken you. We banged on the windows, too.” So, Riyaz ran off to the set, without having a bath. When he reached the location, he was told that cameraman Venu was sitting on top of a crane for a long time. “Venu laughed when he saw me,” says Riyaz. “So did Jayaram and the others. They all understood how I had got late. They teased me a lot after that.” Curious as to what happened, Jayaram got in touch with the temple authorities. “They revealed that there was quite a bit of alcohol in the liquid,” says Riyaz.
Riyaz had yet another interesting experience on the sets of Casanova (2012). The shoot took place in the Hyatt Palm Resorts at Dubai. In the scene, Mohanlal was supposed to come into a hall to attend a large party. Riyaz, as an Interpol officer, was supposed to come in from another door and arrest him. Among the crowd, there was a man in a red suit. “Whenever there was a scene that had to be shot with Mohanlal, he would be next to him,” says Riyaz. “But because of his red colour, he began to appear in too many shots. The cameraman asked for him to be removed. Each time, the man would tell Mohanlal, 'Yes sir, I am moving away. I will not stand next to you. Thank you, thank you'. But after a while, he would find his way next to Mohanlal again.” So, finally, he was dragged away so that the shoot could take place peacefully. Then he went and stood next to the director Roshan Andrews. Roshan said, “Why are you standing here?” The man said, “Sir, since I am not allowed to be next to Mohanlal sir, I decided to stand next to you.” Riyaz smiles and says, “There are all types of people on a film set.”