Location Diaries: Tryst with fire
This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and this week it is Neruppu Da
Playing a firemen in Neruppu Da, hero Vikram Prabhu had to perform several stunts involving real fires. A major 5-day shoot was held at the EVP Film City in Chennai, where a series of stunt sequences involving fire were shot. Several dozen houses were constructed for the shoot. During one stunt, an entire floor, ceiling and walls of a house had to be set on fire. Vikram was required to enter the fire, and then run out carrying one person. He had spent four days planning the shoot with the stunt choreographers, director and art departments. Attention had to be paid to even the smallest details. For instance, he couldn't use hair spray since it was flammable, and even a spark could singe his hair.
The fire was lit and started to rage fiercely within seconds. Before the director yelled 'action', Vikram braced himself, feeling a few seconds of panic. "I've done many stunts but dealing with fire is a different ball game entirely. I was amazed at how burning hot it got in a matter of seconds! As the tremendous heat engulfs you, it almost feels like the fire is within you. The oxygen burns up so fast, you can feel the heat in your lungs," he says.
He had to break down a burning door and run out, carrying a person on his shoulder. The floor below him had heated up so much within seconds, that the bricks began crumbling as he ran. "As I broke the burning door kicking it with my leg, I prayed the burning wood wouldn't fall on us. It was a scary situation. I had to move really fast because I didn't know how much of the heat the ceiling and walls would withstand before they crumbled. I had to get out before they fell around me," he recalls. The actor who isn't new to working under unpredictable and dangerous conditions--he worked with elephants in Kumki - goes on to say, "That shot inside a burning house seemed the longest 15 seconds of my life! My respect for firemen has increased manifold. They risk their own lives to save people under such unpredictable conditions. It requires tremendous mental strength and courage to do that."