Location Diaries: A miracle inside a church
Actress Anjali talks about her experiences in the films, Marupadi, White Boys, Ben, and Role Models
A shoot inside a church at Mepadi in Wayanad was taking place for VM Vinu's film, Marupadi (2016). As Anjali, who played a nun, was about to enter the church, senior actor Devan told her that there is a belief that if you take eight drops of wax from a candle burning near the altar and pour it on the palm, a miracle will take place.
“I got very excited,” says Anjali. So, when she reached the altar, Anjali selected a candle and turned it sideways, to pour a drop of wax. But, instead, a large amount fell on her palm. Even though it was hot, Anjali ignored it and waited to pour the eight drops.
Devan came up and confessed that he had played a prank on her. But Anjali focused on getting the eight drops. In the meanwhile, the wax had solidified on her palm. Devan carefully extracted it. A design had been formed. It had become like Mother Mary, holding a small child, on top of a hill. “Everybody was shocked,” says Anjali.
One week later, the parish priest invited Anjali to be a guest at a function in the church. So Anjali went and told the audience about what had happened. Thereafter, the wax image was projected onto a LED screen.
“Then the priest showed me a photo,” says Anjali. “It was of a famous statue of Mother Mary atop a mountain with a child, somewhere in Europe. And it looked exactly like the wax design. It was, indeed, a miracle.”
Meanwhile, during the shoot of White Boys, Anjali had an entirely different experience. She plays the mother to child actor Gaurav Menon. In one scene, actor Elias is coming to save Anjali and Gaurav from some villains led by actor Kaushik.
Elias was supposed to just point a pistol at Kaushik. But when Elias took aim, there was a loud bang and suddenly Anjali saw blood on Kaushik's face and shirt. “I was not told that there would be a sound and small balloons filled with red water, had been put under Kaushik’s shirt,” says Anjali. "I began screaming thinking that Kaushik had actually been shot. It took me a few minutes to realise that nothing serious had happened, because everybody was laughing. After that, for the rest of the shoot, I was teased non-stop by the crew.”
Anjali was also emotionally overcome during the shoot of Ben (2015). Again, she played a mother, Asha Justin, who intensely loved her son, Ben, played by Gaurav. But Ben rebels against his mother.
“So, there are many scenes where I harass Gaurav,” says Anjali. “I hit him on the head, push dirty clothes into his mouth, and drag him around. Then one day, while the shoot was going on, I suddenly burst into tears over all that I had done. I felt so bad for Gaurav.”
Anjali told the director Vipin Atley that she could not carry on. “Those scenes were so difficult,” says Anjali. But Vipin consoled her, and it took a while before Anjali calmed down and the shoot could resume.
Anjali, who usually plays mother roles, became a feminist, who gets sexually assaulted, in Role Models (2017). The shoot was near a bridge in Goa. “There was an overpowering smell of urine,” says Anjali. “It was unbearable.” Anjali found it very difficult to shoot the scene. “Nevertheless, after it was over, [director] Rafi jokingly promised that the next time there was a shoot, with me, he would ensure that there was no smell of urine nearby,” says Anjali.