Location Diaries: Call of the wild
This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and it is Soorpanagai
Filming director Caarthick Raju's Soorpanagai was a thrilling experience for Regina Cassandra. She shot for around 35 days near Courtrallam and the jungles of Kollam. This had its own charm for the actor. "I love nature. Spending time at my friend's estate near a forest is my favourite holiday activity. So I looked forward to shooting in the wild for Soorpanagai," says Regina.
Almost every day, the location, in the middle of the jungle, was visited by wild animals. "One evening, as we were shooting, someone noticed two wild boars staring at us from a thicket nearby. Nobody moved. We knew from experience that if you don't disturb wild animals, they will leave peacefully. After a few minutes, they disappeared into the forest. Another time, on a day I wasn't shooting, someone spotted a leopard."
But not all animals minded their own business. "Wild monkeys were regular visitors. Some were cute while others were scary. Since some of them would grab food, we left food aside for them. The most exciting days for me were when I spotted a flying lizard and later, a Malabar Squirrel!"
The unit also bonded over another favourite activity. "After a hectic shoot of a crucial action sequence in the rain in the thick jungle, we were all quite fatigued. But my spirits lifted when I discovered that everyone, including Caarthick Raju, was a foodie like me. From then on, nearly every evening, after pack up, we would head to the famous food joints in the area to sample local cuisines. We had the best poondu dosas at Vinayagar Mess. There was a Koorakadai or thatched roof restaurant with amazing local food where we tried nongu and kiliki. Courtrallam Border Rahmath Kadai had the most amazing chicken," says Regina, who plays an archeologist in the film.
The actor spent time learning about the profession. "I watched several videos on how excavations are done and read up on the subject. This helped me play my role more confidently."
Another aspect Regina concentrated on, were her dialogues. "The film is Tamil- Telugu bilingual heroine-centric story and a lot is riding on me. So I felt additional responsibility to give special attention to my dialogues." When her lines were given to her, she would sit with the assistant director and study them in detail. "Having done several Telugu films, my vocabulary has expanded considerably and I can converse freely in Telugu. So when there were words or phrases that I felt could be interchanged or included, to add more meaning and feel natural, I would discuss it with my director. Caarthick welcomed my inputs and we had long and healthy discussions. I also discussed lines with my co-actors Vennela Kishore and JP sir. It was fulfilling to know that we were all jointly committed to adding value to the project."