Location Diaries: A full-fledged fight, a driver who could not drive, and an accident
Kunchacko Boban on his experiences in the films, Ordinary, Traffic, and Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho
For the film, Ordinary (2012), the song Sun Sun Sundari was being picturised inside a bus at Kuttikanam. Actors Kunchacko Boban, Biju Menon and Shrithi Sivadas were present. It was a Sunday evening. Suddenly, a group of men came to the set in a Wagon R. They were drunk and in a combative mood. They passed some mocking comments and stood in front of the camera. Suddenly, one of them slapped a member of the crew. Then they laughed and moved away.
“We lost our mood,” says Kunchacko, at his home in Kochi. “So, we decided to end the day's shoot.”
As the crew was packing up, the drunken men appeared again. For the second time they slapped a member of the crew.
That was the last straw. Soon, there was a full-fledged fight. “The unit hands are strong boys because they carry such heavy weights on the sets each day,” says Kunchacko.
In the end, the Wagon R was completely destroyed. The windscreen, as well as the window panes was shattered. There were huge dents on the bonnet.
Soon, the cops arrived and arrested the whole lot. Later, the police filed a case.
And this case is still going on. “Funnily enough, since they have met so often at the court, the two groups have become friends,” says Kunchacko. “In fact, they attend each other's weddings now.”
Kunchacko had an entirely different experience while filming for the late Rajesh Pillai's Traffic (2010). While Kunchacko played Dr Abel, Sreenivasan donned the role of constable Sudevan, and Asif Ali played an accident survivor. All three are transporting a heart at high speed from Kochi to Palakkad to save a superstar's daughter's life.
On the first day of the shoot, inside the Fertilisers and Chemicals Travancore Limited campus at Kochi, Kunchacko sat at the back of a Scorpio, Sreenivasan was behind the wheel and Asif remained in the passenger seat.
As Sreenivasan started the vehicle, Kunchacko casually said, “Chettan, do you know driving?”
“No,” said Sreenivasan.
Kunchacko said, “You are joking?”
Sreenivasan immediately said, “No I am not.” Asif and Kunchacko exchanged worried looks. Throughout the film, Sreenivasan was supposed to drive the vehicle, and, that too, at high speed.
Kunchacko said, “Aren't you afraid?”
Sreenivasan said, “Why should I be? You should be since I am the driver.”
So, this was how the shoot panned out. If they were to travel 50 metres, the moment the director shouted, 'Cut', Asif would immediately shift the gear to neutral, while Kunchacko would lean forward and quickly pull the hand brake. “However, many shots were taken by placing the car on the bed of the trailer which then moved forward,” says Kunchacko. “Thankfully, there were no accidents.”
But there was an accident on the sets of Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho (2016) at Adimali. For the song sequence of Neelakkannula Maane, Kunchacko was supposed to ride down a sloping road on a cycle.
As soon as Kunchacko set out, and the cycle gathered speed, he felt that something was wrong. He quickly pressed the brakes, and realised, with a rising alarm, that they were not working.
He shouted, “Stop me, the brakes are not working.”
A crew member tried but could not stop the cycle.
At the bottom of the slope, the road turned to the left and the right. On the right, there was the camera, director and crew members, a tent where the monitor was kept and a crane. On the left, was a crowd of people who had come to watch the shoot.
“If I went right I would hit the crane and hurt myself,” says Kunchacko. “If I turned left I would hit some people and cause injuries. I had to make a decision within a split second.”
And right at the bottom in the middle there was a thick tree. “I felt my only option was to hit the tree,” he says.
When the cycle hit the tree, Kunchacko held up his elbow to protect his head, and so his arm hit the tree with great force. But he also hit the side of his head, near the ear, and fell down.
The cycle was destroyed. “By the grace of God, nothing happened to me,” he says. “I told the crew members who wanted to call a doctor that I could hear them speak, I could see clearly and remember everything.”
In the end, Kunchacko went to his caravan and lay down for half an hour. Thereafter, the shoot resumed once again. A doctor arrived later, checked on Kunchacko, and confirmed that everything was fine. Says a smiling Kunchacko: “You need a large dose of luck whenever you are taking part in a shoot.”