Location Diary: Lessons from Mohanlal
Actor Meera Vasudevan talks about her experiences in the films, Thanmathra, Vairam: Fight for Justice, and the upcoming Chakkaramavin Kombath.
On the terrace of a Housing Board building in Thiruvananthapuram, actor Meera Vasudevan waited with bated breath. She was about to meet Mollywood superstar Mohanlal before the start of Blessy’s Thanmathra (2005). In order to ensure that there was no goof-up, Meera had already memorised 30 lines of dialogue.
There were reasons behind Meera’s nervousness. She had not seen a single Malayalam film in her life, except for a few glimpses, as she walked through the living room at their home in Mumbai because her mom, who loved Malayalam films, would be watching one on TV.
Soon, Mohanlal arrived. But before Meera could say anything, he said, with a smile, “Hi Meera, The Malayalam film industry welcomes you.”
A shocked Meera recalls, “I was so taken aback by his simple and friendly approach, as well as his humility.”
It was a hectic shoot. In the film, Meera plays Lekha Ramesan, the wife of Mohanlal. “We were both exhausted,” says Meera.
It was 1.30 a.m. “So there was a scene on a bed, where we were lying next to each other,” says Meera. As another shot was getting readied, Mohanlal put his head to one side of the bed, and went into a deep sleep. Meera also put her head on the other side and did the same.
An hour later, they were both woken up, with Blessy saying, “Rolling, Action.” Says Meera, “Both Mohanlal Sir and I looked confused, not knowing where we were. In the end, we started laughing.”
It was a learning experience for Meera. “Not once did Mohanlal Sir throw any tantrums,” says Meera. “He was most flexible and adjusting. He would shoot till 4 a.m., and still be ready at 5 a.m., if necessary. From Mohanlal sir, I learned how to be co-operative and adjust patiently to the film-making process.”
Indeed, for the film, Vairam: Fight for Justice (2009) Meera had to do a lot of adjusting. She plays the wife of the actor Pashupati. And there is an emotional scene when they realise their daughter had been raped and killed.
In this sequence, they are supposed to be walking next to each other. But since Pashupati is a very tall man, the crew placed four bricks one on top of another, and formed a line, so that Meera could reach his height. “I had to walk on these bricks very carefully, and also look emotionally upset, with tears flowing down my face,” says Meera.
However, there were hilarious moments, “Many times, I slipped and almost fell down. And Pashupati would catch me at the last moment,” says Meera. “Thankfully, since the camera was focused only on our faces, I was able to grab Pashupati’s shirt throughout. But in the end, we managed to get the shoot done, without too many retakes.”
For the shoot of Meera’s upcoming Chakkaramavin Kombath, the crew had to solve another kind of difficulty. The sequences were shot in a posh bungalow at Kochi, which had a swimming pool. This was supposed to be the house of Dr. Lucy Mathew, played by Meera.
One hour before the shoot began, when Meera would arrive, there would be plenty of water in the taps. “But once the entire crew came, the taps would go dry,” says Meera. “The house owner said that there was a problem with the pump and the water could not be pumped up to the tank.” The crew had no option but to draw water from the swimming pool.
Unfortunately, this ‘man-made’ problem continued throughout the shoot. “Funnily enough, the movie deals with water conservation,” says Meera. “Maybe, the owner should have played the hero.”.