Location Diaries: Pizza 3: The Mummy-A horror recipe
This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and this week, it is Pizza 3: The Mummy
For Pizza 3: The Mummy, the film's lead Ashwin Kakumanu had to play a chef and shot a major portion of the film in an actual restaurant in Chennai. "The film required scenes to be shot in the kitchen area. We shot this in a posh, contemporary kitchen, made by our director Mohan Govind. The owners were particular that we keep the kitchen clean and avoid damage to the modular, steel fittings," says Ashwin. "As all the fittings were already fixed, we didn't have the space required to move around for shooting and the camera team had a tough time working with the camera angles and additional lights. We stuck to a minimal crew and tried to complete shots in single takes without rehearsals; this was quite a different experience for me."
The kitchen was apparently a part of a functioning restaurant and so, the team had to wait for the restaurant to be closed and then shoot throughout the night. "Resetting my body clock wasn't easy. Onscreen, it had to look like I knew my workplace like the back of my hand. So, to avoid fumbling while looking for a vessel or a ladle, I spent some time familiarising myself with the equipment and placements. A chef taught me the lingo they use while speaking to colleagues. I also learned how to expertly chop vegetables."
The makers decided on using minimal CG for the film and as it's a horror film, Ashwin had to portray a gamut of negative emotions that apparently took a toll on him. "From fear and shock to dread, paranoia and hallucinations, I had to show a range of reactions, mostly in isolation, as strange things are visible only to my character in the film. To be in that mind space was stressful. Between takes, I would joke around with my co-stars Kaali Venkat and Pavithrah, to get into a lighter mood before going back to the heavy scenes," says a smiling Ashwin.
To top it off, the film was among those shot during the height of the pandemic. "I had to go home to my baby every day, and so, I was particular about following protocols. The restaurant owners too were particular about everyone wearing masks. Pavithrah, a doctor in real life, used to also share safety tips that were quite useful," says Ashwin.