'Cinema was the only goal in front of us'
After being rescued from their flood-hit Himachal Pradesh movie location, filmmaker Sanal Kumar Sasidharan recounts the 10-day experience of shooting his new film, Kayattam, starring Manju Warrier
Two days ago, we reported that Manju Warrier was rescued after being stranded in a flood-hit Himachal Pradesh area along with the crew of her new film Kayattam, directed by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan. As the team has been made safe and is currently in fine spirits, Sanal has shared his experiences while shooting the film for the past two weeks in a location where there was no mobile and internet connectivity.
While expressing solidarity with those impacted by the floods in Kerala, he said, “We had already filmed 80 per cent of the film in some of Himalaya’s most dangerous trekking spots when, unexpectedly, during the 18th, we encountered heavy rain and snowfall.”
The 25-member crew was filming in and around Hampta Pass with ten assistants to aid them. “Owing to the presence of mind of everyone in the film crew and the combined efforts of the mountain expedition team, we managed to make it to Chhatru in six hours. Since all routes were damaged due to heavy rains, we couldn’t establish communication with the outside world for two days,” he recalled.
Sanal is thankful for the timely intervention of the Himachal Prachal government. “They evacuated many from the area in such a short amount of time. Since three members of our group had small injuries on their legs, we had to wait in Chhatru until transportation was restored,” he said, adding that he was amazed by one of the cast members, Astha Gupta, who traversed 8 km of rocky terrain in spite of her injury. “Everyone possessed a remarkable spark that no obstacle could diminish. Cinema was the only goal in front of us. It was the light that guided us. There was no sense of superiority or inferiority in any of us.”
Sanal also thanked everyone for their prayers and said the biggest achievement of the trip, as far as he is concerned, is getting to know Manju as a person, whom he regards not only as a great actor but also a strong woman.
Meanwhile, Manju has informed everyone that she is safe. She shared a note thanking everyone for their efforts. She wrote, “Very happy and relieved to inform all of you that I and the entire team of the movie Kayattam by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan reached back safe by midnight in Manali, and are completely safe now after being stranded for six days in the regions of Shiyagoru and Chhatru in Himachal Pradesh due to snowfall and landslides. Thanks to all the big hearts who swiftly and responsibly executed the rescue operations. And thanks to the care, concern, love, and prayers from each one of you. Was shocked to hear about the floods in Kerala. I hope we all stay together in this like last year.”