Location Diaries: Monkey business
This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and this week it is Taana
Vaibhav had heard a lot about the Talakona forest, much before he recently set foot there for the shoot of his film, Taana. “We had to get off the bus at a point and walk into the forest to our location. The foliage at one point would get so dense that no sunlight could get it. It was misty as well, and quite eerie," he recalls. As they went deeper into the forest, the visibility got more compromised. “I couldn’t help but notice though that hundreds of eyes were trained on us,” he says. “We were surrounded by wild monkeys.”
They descended from treetops soon enough and began looking for food. “Any boxes we had with biscuits or other eatables vanished in a jiffy,” he says. “When they opened boxes that had lens and other equipment, they left them alone. Quite a few lens got damaged, as they were unceremoniously dropped from trees.”
"By the second day, they seemed to have learned. They quickly gleaned the boxes that were useless, and simply grabbed the ones with food. We then began packing food into discarded equipment boxes, knowing the monkeys would leave them alone," says Vaibhav.
There was another problem too, apparently. "Monkeys would constantly get into our shots. If we decided to shoot with them in the frame, they wouldn’t be available for the next shot, leading to continuity issues. Sometimes, we had to shoot up to 15 takes because of them."
While waiting around, Vaibhav noticed that there were several types of monkeys. "Some were wild while others were quieter in temperament. But to be honest, none of us felt threatened. They were mischievous and utterly harmless."
Vaibhav has another reason to be happy about being surrounded by so many monkeys. "I am a Hanuman devotee, and so, I was not at all scared. It was an unforgettable experience."