Location Diaries: Learning the hard way - Smruthi Venkat for Theerpugal Virkapadum
This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and this week, it is Theerpugal Virkapadum
On her first day at the shooting spot of Theerpugal Virkapadum, Smruthi Venkat had the opportunity to share screen space with Sathyaraj. "The director asked me if I could ride a bike, and I promptly replied that I could. He then instructed me to ride the bike up to a designated point, pick Sathyaraj sir up, and continue driving. Upon hearing these directions, I froze since I was scared about driving a bike with a pillion rider," says Smruthi, adding that her fear stems from an accident she met with as a teenager. "When my father, seated behind me, was teaching me how to ride a bike, I suddenly stood up from my seat after spotting an obstruction. This bike toppled over and injured my father. Ever since, I have been driving solo. And now, I was scared about putting Sathyaraj sir in danger."
After the team assuaged her anxiousness, she decided to go ahead with the scene, but only after sharing her concern with Sathyaraj. "He patiently heard me and encouraged me to drive. I drove carefully once he got on the bike because neither did I want to injure him nor did I want to go for a second take. To my surprise, I drove for nearly 500 meters without any hurdles, and at the end, Sathyaraj sir’s compliment came as a huge relief."
Speaking of her working experience with Sathyaraj, who plays her father in the film, Smruthi says, "Being a newbie, I was a tad nervous about acting with a veteran like Sathyaraj sir. However, he made me feel very comfortable, and we chatted on a wide range of topics between shots. He has immense knowledge, and often reads books on sets."
Smruthi says she also filmed her ever first action scene for the film. The scene required a stuntman to knock the actor down and drag her by the hair. "I was supposed to fall on a wooden plank that would be pulled by two assistants as the stuntman held my hair and dragged me. This way, I wouldn’t be hurt." However, the scene didn’t go as planned, she reveals. “The plank did not move as fast as the stuntman pulled my hair. He ended up dragging me for real without realising that the plank was not sliding like it was expected to. I screamed in pain and everyone on the team came rushing to my aid. The stuntman too apologised later."
She eventually learned that the junior stuntmen were also inexperienced like her. "I learned a few lessons from it. Since then, I have developed the practice of meeting the stunt team in advance and discussing the minutest details so we are all well-prepared."