Location Diaries: Performing in pandemic
This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and this week, it is from Ward 126
Actor Chandini Tamilarasan experienced mixed emotions when she arrived for the shooting of Ward 126, "It was my first film shoot after last year’s lockdown and I was anxious about how things would be on sets. But then, there was also the joy of meeting my team after the long break. It wasn't easy to identify people as they all had their masks on. Though there was a sense of caution—with sanitisation, mask usage, and social distancing being strictly followed—the entire unit was also thrilled to be back at work," says Chandini. However, shooting was not as easy as it used to be. "I was alert about following the Covid norms and was afraid of slip-ups. But when the camera started rolling, I forgot my fears and got into the character immediately. As soon as the shot was over, I was a bundle of nerves again; I was constantly switching between these two modes throughout the shoot. This was a new experience for me."
As an actor, there was another practical difficulty Chandini had to endure. "Before wearing a mask, I had to ensure that my lipstick was removed after each shot. This process made me sweat a lot and smudged the make-up. I had to do more touch-up than usual for this film," says Chandini who also apparently had to pay extra care to her diet. "The pandemic has taught us to maintain healthy eating habits. My mother would send me special home-cooked meals. I've never been so conscious of eating right before."
She also made sure that her exercise routine wasn't interrupted during the shoots. "During the lockdown, at home, I made sure I walked 10,000 steps a day and continued that habit even on the sets. In between shots, I would put on my smartwatch and start walking around, tracking the number of steps to achieve my daily goal."
Chandini was also worried about the safety of her loved ones. "As I had to come back home to my parents and grandparents every day, I felt a greater sense of responsibility about observing safety norms at work. The pandemic has given me new insight into the importance of health and safety. This sense of fear, caution, and working under new circumstances mixed with the exhilaration of being back at work made Ward 126 an unforgettable shoot for me," concludes Chandini.