Location Diaries: The pain of shooting action

This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and this week, it is from Kanni Theevu
Ashna Zaveri on sets of Kanni Theevu
Ashna Zaveri on sets of Kanni Theevu

Actor Ashna Zaveri was excited to shoot her first-ever action sequence in the upcoming film, Kanni Theevu, but filming near a remote village in the backwaters of Kerala for the sequence turned out to be quite tricky. "I was in a boat along with my co-stars, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, Subiksha, and Aishwarya Dutta, and we were all required to jump out into the water for the action scene. I was nervous as I'm scared of water and don’t know how to swim!"

However, she trusted the makers. “When the director said, ‘Action!’, I jumped!" says Ashna. "It was hot and humid, and the waters were murky. So, we had to constantly come up and go underwater again. We were in the water for over four days, and I ended up swallowing all that murky water. So, I had to take meds regularly to make sure I didn’t fall sick."

For the sequence in question, the actors had to swim downstream and jump onto tree branches for safety—and this caused cuts on their skin. "We were also trained not to get close to certain poisonous trees and plants by the river. It was all quite stressful; a single slip-up might have resulted in the whole thing getting delayed." And if she thought she was doing well, destiny had other ideas. “I ended up twisting my ankle while jumping from a tree, but thankfully, that was the last shot.”

Another action scene set in a Chennai factory was more demanding physically. “I felt like I was Lara Croft, while shooting this fight sequence for close to three days! All of us, part of the fighting, had to move really fast during this strenuous sequence and pretend like we were striking each other." However, she had a judgment lapse. "After punching one of the fighters, I had to run. I ended up punching a stuntman on his face by mistake. I felt terrible about hurting him." On the final day of the shoot, there was another mishap.

"The plan was for a huge sheet of glass to shatter as I collided with it. The timing had to be perfect, or you could get injured badly. But as I ran, the glass sheet broke near me, and I tripped over it. I landed on my hands and shards of glass pierced my palms!"

Despite all these tribulations, Ashna chooses to look at the brighter side. "I am just glad that the shooting did not get disrupted!”

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