Location Diaries: Shootout on the highway
This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and this week it is Irandaam Ulaga Porin Kadaisi Gundu
For actor Attakathi Dinesh, the shoot of Irandaam Ulaga Porin Kadaisi Gundu led to a near-death experience that he shudders to remember. The unit was shooting at 2 am on the Chennai-Tindivanam highway. The scene involved Dinesh, dressed in a lungi, climbing aboard a moving truck, hanging perilously outside the driver’s door. The camera was stationed within the truck, and director Athiyan Athirai and team were positioned behind trees, in the dark.
Suddenly, the truck driver heard the sound of something breaking. Hearing the sound, he stopped the vehicle, and Dinesh jumped off the truck to examine the broken object. It was the side rear-view mirror, which had ripped off and broken.
“Just as I was examining the mirror, I heard a movement behind me. I looked up to see two cops pointing their rifles right at me. Near them was a highway police patrol vehicle with an officer inside. I assumed this was also part of the shoot which the director hadn’t told me about,” says Dinesh.
Then, the actor jokingly asked one of the cops whom he thought were co-actors, “Are these guns real?” The next second, his blood ran cold. “In response to my question, I heard the cops unlocking their rifles, and pointing them at me. In that split second, I realised they were real cops, who thought I was a real highway robber!”
Things happened very fast after that. Then, the director and team stepped out shouting, ‘It’s a shooting!’ But hearing the words ‘shoot’ and seeing so many more men, the cops were even more sure it was a highway gang operating.
“As they came closer, guns in hand, one of them recognised my face even as I stood petrified. Within seconds, they realised that our men were referring to a film shoot. I shudder to think what would have happened if they hadn’t recognised me. Even now, I clearly remember the clicking sound of their rifles and how close I was to a perilous end that night. It was a shoot I’ll never forget.”