Location Diaries: When a chimp cried
This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and this week it is Sathish, sharing his experiences while shooting for Gorilla
The actors, including Jiiva and Sathish, were taken to the zoo a day before the shoot began. The idea was to get them familiar with the chimpanzee they would be shooting with for the next 25 days. "The chimp was quite friendly and though I was a bit anxious at first, we both got used to each other by the end of the day," recalls Sathish.
During the shoot, Sathish couldn’t help but notice the special attention the chimp was getting on the sets. "The chimp even had a special menu to choose from for each meal! From a fruit platter to sweets and local Thai dishes, he had a wide selection to choose from. In fact whenever he felt like it, he would stop shoot and go eat something. He had three special assistants to look after him,” he says. “Compare that with some of us who don’t even have one assistant when on foreign shoots.”
Occasionally, the chimp got too friendly and would thump Sathish on his back during shooting. "The first time it happened, I yelled, ‘Aiyyo!’ during the middle of my dialogue! This kept happening all through the 25 days we shot with him. I was advised to say my dialogue from afar but he would just amble up near me and give me what he thought was a friendly pat!” Sathish says. Director Sandy could never understand what the fuss was about. "I told him that only if he was at the receiving end of a chimpanzee’s pats, would be know the pain."
Parting from the friendly chimp turned out to be a surprisingly emotional moment for everyone. The actors had, in fact, been advised not to get too friendly with the chimp in order to avoid him missing everyone. "But strangely enough, the day before we left, he sensed that we were about to leave. We saw his eyes well up all day! It was all very emotional."