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Location Diaries: A twilight scene- Cinema express

Location Diaries: A twilight scene

Scriptwriter John Paul talks about his experiences in the films, Yaathra, Ormakkayi and Adathaduthu

Published: 31st October 2017

It was 6.10 pm. Director Balu Mahendra told Mammooty to get ready for a shoot. This was for the film, Yaathra (1985), which was being shot at a location in Ooty. In the scene, Shobhana (Thulasi) would place some flowers at the base of a Lord Krishna statue. Mammootty's character, Unnikrishnan would come and watch Shobhana do it. This would be the start of an intense romance between Mammootty and Shobhana. 

However, Mammootty was apprehensive about the light. So he told the veteran Balu, “Should we take the shot now? The light is fading. Since we will be coming here for the next schedule, we can do it then.” 

Balu replied, “We will give it a try. If the shot is not good, we will do it later.” 

So, Mammootty did the scene, but with a lack of confidence about the light. 

A few days later, Balu called Mammootty to do the dubbing. Scriptwriter John Paul was also there. 

“In the scene, the reddish glow of the evening sun reflected the mood within Mammootty's character,” says John Paul. “There were clouds in the sky. And against it, numerous birds were flying. A branch of a tree could be seen hovering at the top of the frame. Meanwhile, drops of perspiration could be seen on Shobhana's face. This highlighted Shobhana's erotic beauty. It was like a Rembrandt painting.” 

After the dubbing, Balu said, “Mr Mammooty, how is it? Do we need to reshoot?”

Mammootty immediately said, “I accept. You were right all along.” 

Balu smiled and said, “Don't teach your grandfather.” 

While everybody laughed, it was Mammootty who laughed the loudest. 

Preparing for his role as a deaf and dumb person in Ormakkayi (1981) was no laughing matter for Bharath Gopi. “He told me he wanted to stay with a deaf and dumb person, in order to understand them better,” says John Paul. So, the scriptwriter arranged for one such person, Suresh (name changed), to spend two days with Gopi at a hotel in Chennai. 

But John Paul could not resist a wisecrack to director Bharathan, “There can be only one of two outcomes: either the deaf and dumb person will start speaking or Gopi will become deaf and dumb himself.” Bharathan burst out laughing. 

Gopi, however, had a clear agenda. “He was not interested in observing the normal behaviour of Suresh,” says John Paul. When Gopi was having a cup of coffee, he purposely dropped the saucer to the floor. “Gopi keenly watched the shocked reaction of Suresh,” says John Paul.  When the thespian went to have a bath, he left the door open so that the man could watch him in the nude. “Again, Suresh had a stunned expression on his face,” says John Paul. “In the film, Gopi incorporated all these expressions.” 

Gopi employed the same method for the film, Adathaduthu (1984), where he plays a priest. Again, Gopi wanted to meet a real-life priest. So Paul arranged for him to meet the Kochi-based Fr. Michael Panackal, who was a well-known musician. Gopi asked him how he would bend his fingers when he gave a blessing. The priest showed him. 

Thereafter, John Paul, Gopi and Fr. Panackal went for a walk on Banerji Road. While they were walking past a church, the priest half-genuflected and placed his palm over his heart. “Gopi immediately noticed it,” says John Paul. “And he used this action a few times in the film.”   

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