Location Diaries: Call of the jungle
This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and this week it is from the floors of Kaadan
Shooting for Prabhu Solomon's Kaadan turned out to be unforgettable for Vishnu Vishal for several reasons. "We shot the entire film in the deep jungles of Kerala. That meant we had to leave our lodgings early and travel for two hours to reach the shooting spot. Since the shoots began at 6 am most days, we had to wake up as early as 3 am to get ready," Vishnu recalls.
The team would only return to their lodgings around 9:30 pm. "So, after dinner and a shower, we hardly got any time to sleep because by 3 am we had to be up again!"
It was Vishnu's first time shooting in Telugu (Aranya) and this happened concurrently with the Tamil version. That meant he had to give every shot twice. "For each version, my body language had to be different. I had to remember to immediately switch over and get into the groove for the other language."
This was also his first shoot with an elephant. Vishnu had no time to do any research or prepare himself for this. But he had full faith in the Kumki director. "I knew that Prabhu Solomon understood elephants really well and I just trusted his guidance completely." He continues, "Throughout the film, every shot of mine was with the elephant, Unnikrishnan. We had to work in sync. So I decided to get to know him better by feeding him, talking to him, and even bathing him sometimes."
There was no time for rehearsals, not even for his first shot with Unnikrishnan. "I was called directly to the spot. It was quite a difficult shot too. The elephant was on top of a moving truck and I was on top of the elephant. And during all this, I had to look really casual! It was scary, but I somehow managed to do it in two takes."
Though it was scary to shoot in jungles, amidst wild animals, snakes, and leeches, Vishnu found the entire process exciting because of the challenges it threw up each day. Working on Kaadan also gave him a newfound appreciation for nature. "Shooting in the lap of nature has changed me. It's calm, beautiful, soothing, and peaceful. But nature can be really powerful and devastating if disturbed. So we, as humans, should be careful to not disturb the balance."