Location Diaries : Oru Cinemakkaran
Director Leo Thaddeus talks about his experiences in the films, Oru Cinemakkaran, Payyans and Pachamarathanalil
At 9 a.m., on a hot day in March, a man stood at the side of the main road outside the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium at Kochi. None of the daily commuters recognised him. That was because he had tied a handkerchief around his face and kept only his eyes free. Soon, there was an all-clear on the walkie-talkie. Vineeth Sreenivasan quickly took off his handkerchief and set off on a run towards a parked motorcycle. He stops and runs back.
By the time, the people realised it was Vineeth, the shoot was over.
This scene was for Oru Cinemakkaran, directed by Leo Thaddeus, in which Vineeth plays Alby, as aspiring film-maker who is the son of a priest.. But not all the shoots were this smooth for Leo.
For the same film, they were shooting in the market at Broadway, Kochi. There was a scene when a boy, (played by Prashant, a debutant), snatched Vineeth’s mobile phone and ran towards Marine Drive.
On the Drive, a car was supposed to come from the opposite side, at 80 kms per hour, brake immediately and the vehicle was supposed to do a 360 degree turn, in front of Prashant. Sand had been sprinkled on the road, to ensure this happened. The driver was stunt expert Jolly Master, who has worked in more than 750 films.
So Prashant ran very fast, followed by Vineeth. “However, when Jolly Master braked and turned, the bonnet hit Prashant on his arm. He felt shocked, but, thankfully, nothing serious happened.” But what made Leo get heart palpitations was when he noticed, at the last moment, a scooter travelling right behind the car, with a father and two school-going children. But, thankfully, the man braked in time, waited for the car to go completely around, and then coolly drove past. “That was a very nervous moment for me,” says Leo.
There were other nervous moments too. Ultimately, Prashant was caught by the people and was given a mock-thrashing by members of the crew. However, some of the bystanders, including the workers and shop staffers, at Broadway, got so carried away, that they came running up and actually hit him. A shocked Prashant fell to the ground. “I felt sad but only after I said, ‘Cut’,” says Leo. “Before that, I was busy trying to capture this realistic scene.”
Meanwhile, in Payyans (2011), there was a moment when Lal, who plays a Navy officer, was shot at by a LTTE operative. Lal was supposed to fall 20 ft backwards into the sea. The shoot was at Tuticorin. Leo was hesitant to ask Lal to do the stunt. So, he was thinking of getting a stunt double. But to his surprise, Lal offered to do it himself. “I was amazed,” says Leo. “There was no need for such an esteemed director to take the risk himself, but Lal Sir did it without any complaint.” And the shoot went through smoothly.
Another actor who impressed Leo was the Tamil thespian M. Nassar. During the shoot of Leo’s first film, Pachamarathanalil, in the interiors of Pollachi in 2008, there is a confrontation between Nassar and Vinayakan. But the shoot continued till 2 a.m.
However, during the gaps in the shooting Nassar kept himself occupied in an unusual way. He had collected charcoal stones and did a large surrealistic drawing of a girl on the wall of an unused godown. “It turned out to be a magnificent drawing,” says Leo. “I was impressed by how Nassar Sir diverted his energy in a useful way. Plus, he had such a natural talent.”