Location Diaries: A pistol for safety
Actor/Producer Vijay Babu talks about his experiences on the sets of Escape From Uganda, Phillips and the Monkey Pen and Double Barrel
Actor/producer Vijay Babu was in Uganda for the shoot of Escape From Uganda (2013). One day, the director Rajesh Nair, who is settled there, told Vijay he needed to go and check out a location. Just before he left, he gave a pistol to Vijay.
“If anything happens, shoot first and ask questions later,” said Rajesh.
Vijay said, “What are you saying?”
“Rima [Kallingal] and other women artistes are there, so it is better to be careful,” said Rajesh.
Vijay was also given a car along with a driver, named George. “Since he could speak English, I got along very well with him,” says Vijay. “Sometimes, when we had to travel long distances, going towards locations, we would stop and have snacks or a meal.”
One day, George, 30, was absent. So Vijay went and enquired with the production controller. He smiled and said, “George has gone to get his pension for Aids. All those who have the disease get a pension.”
Vijay looked shocked. The controller said in a soothing voice, “Aids is everywhere in Uganda. One in five have it. There is nothing to worry about.”
In the film, Phillips and the Monkey Pen, people were a bit worried about child actor Sanoop Santhosh. Somehow, he was unable to cry during a climax scene. “Whenever he tried, it did not look natural,” says Vijay. “Take after take was going on.”
Suddenly, Sanoop’s elder sister, Sanusha, who was watching from the sidelines, just went up to her brother and pinched his arm very hard. Immediately, Sanoop started crying loudly. Sanusha looked at the three directors, and said, “Take it, take it.” And thus, the scene became a natural one. “So, what the viewer saw was an actual crying scene,” says Vijay.
During the shoot of Peruchazhi (2014), in California, USA, Mohanlal and Vijay got along famously because they love cooking. Every evening, after the shoot was over, Mohanlal would go to the apartment of Vijay and they would do some cooking. “Lal was an expert in making wine-based dishes,” says Vijay.
One day, director Arun Vaidyanathan was very tense, during a scene between Mohanlal and Vijay. Somehow, things were not working out. Then suddenly, just before a shot, Mohanlal said, “Vijay, come here.” From a distance the crew thought that they were having a serious discussion.
But when Vijay came close, Mohanlal said, “Tonight, why don’t we cook fish curry biriyani?” Vijay wanted to burst out laughing. But somehow, he managed to control himself.
Soon, Mohanlal shouted out to Arun, “Okay, we are ready.”
But on the sets of Double Barrel in Goa, things were not ready at all. On a bare hill, a fight sequence between two rival gangs was being filmed. Apart from actors Prithviraj, Indrajith and Vijay, more than 200 extras were present. “There were bomb blasts, guns were fired, but the shot was not okayed,” says Babu. “The next shot took two hours of preparation. Because bombs had to be buried under the ground, new bullets inserted into revolvers, and make-up changed.”
Unfortunately, the second shot was also not okayed. Director Lijo Jose Pellissery was getting frustrated. Suddenly, Lijo’s mother called him. Lijo told his assistant to take it. He did so but she insisted she wanted to talk to Lijo. So Lijo took the phone and said, “What is it Mummy?”
His mother replied, “The gas has finished in the house. Please arrange to get another cylinder.”
Lijo asked her to call somebody else. She replied, “Who else will I call? YOU call somebody and get it delivered immediately.”