Location Diaries: A magical learning experience

This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and this week, it is from Udanpaal
Vivek Prasanna
Vivek Prasanna

When shooting for director Karthik Seenivasan's Udanpaal, actor Vivek Prasanna had a unique experience. The ensemble cast shot the entire film in one schedule in the same location.

"For this film, all of us actors, which included Gayathrie, Lingaa, Charlie sir, Mayilsamy sir, Dheena, Abernathi, Dhanam and 2 child actors, had many combination scenes together every single day. I was pleasantly surprised when director Karthik insisted on at least 4-5 rehearsals of each scene every day. This was a huge learning experience and also a lot of fun. Each of us would keep giving our inputs, and the spontaneous reactions from each actor added to the improvisations, and all this gave us a huge opportunity to add nuances to our acting and learn from each other. It was exciting and magical being on sets each day. Director Karthik gave us the freedom to improvise but only used the actions or suggestions that elevated the scene," says Vivek Prasanna. 

The presence of a large cast lead to a lot of bonhomie and camaraderie. The actor shares that many a time, the laughter would get so uncontrollable that it lead to multiple retakes. "We wouldn't be able to hold back our laughter when another was speaking. Many a time, the first thing Karthik used to tell us on a day was to not laugh at all!"

During breaks, Vivek Prasanna spent a lot of time interacting with veteran actor Charlie. "He comes from the S Balachander school of acting and so there was so much to learn from him. I would request him to enact his scenes from previous films and it was fascinating to watch him perform them live." The interactions also helped him to learn from the senior actor. "I observed the way he would rehearse and the small changes he would make that would elevate the scene instantly. I learnt about the importance of punctuality and being sincere."

Another actor who imparted important lessons to Vivek was veteran actor Mayilsamy. "Apart from his comic timing, the different ways of telling the dialogues was a fascinating learning experience.".

Shooting with all actors inside an indoor location all through the film had its own challenges for the cameraman Madhan Christopher. "He had to show us all in the same place, and yet avoid monotony with the visuals. He worked extra hard to ensure no boredom would set in. I observed how he kept changing the lighting with minute variations, tried different and sometimes unusual camera angles, adjusted the range, and kept moving the camera from track to hand-held to add to the variety of motions. All that added to the overall cinematic experience of Udanpaal."

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