Location Diaries: Food trail
This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and this week it is Vaanam Kottattum
For director Dhana's Vaanam Kottattum, hero Vikram Prabhu had to shoot in the crowded Koyambedu vegetable and fruit market. The unit arrived on location at 5 am and to Vikram's surprise, the market was already teeming with vendors, buyers, lorries, and carts. "I learnt that by 7 am all the major trading would be completed and loads of vegetables and fruits would be dispatched. Everywhere, we could hear people yelling and calling out prices. On all sides we were surrounded by fruits and vegetables of every kind. The whole experience was very new and exciting for me!" says Vikram Prabhu.
Shooting in the midst of such large crowds proved challenging. It was a five-day shoot with most of the major cast. The unit decided that the best way to go about it would be to do so without drawing attention to the actors, to avoid curious bystanders accidentally entering the frame.
However, the very first day, people noticed the steady camera following Vikram Prabhu and starting gathering. So, Dhana quickly abandoned the original plan. Instead, cameras were set up at a safe distance, and Vikram was asked to move normally through the crowds, which were to be part of the scenes. "I moved at a swift pace, so that nobody would have the time to recognise me," the actor says.
Another measure was taken to avoid disrupting the daily routine of the market. Dhana made the actors enter the market area through different entrances, and never together, to avoid mobbing. All would converge at a designated spot and then continue the shoot.
There were other risks to contend with. Riding on a bike for one shot, Vikram Prabhu skid on some vegetable waste and lost balance. "But I quickly got on my feet and continued the shot since the camera was rolling."
The rotting vegetables and fruit, he found, also resulted in an all pervading stench. "It's unavoidable because so many lorries, carts, and people are moving around trampling over fallen vegetables." As the vanity vans were far away, Vikram would rest inside the market itself during lunch breaks. "But the smell was so overwhelming, I couldn't bring myself to swallow even a morsel!" He managed to keep himself going by just nibbling on a few biscuits.
There was a positive outcome, however. "My respect for the entire chain of people who bring food to our tables, right from the farmers and traders to vendors, has increased. I'm now more concious than ever to never waste food."