Location Diaries: The burden of foresight - Bharath for Munnarivaan
This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and this week, it is from Munnarivaan
Shooting for debutant director Vijayraj’s Munnarivaan proved to be a rather unique experience for actor Bharath. "As the title suggests, my character is able to foresee events. To illustrate how he sees, hears and feels things, the director used the technique of sub-dividing each shot into several micro segments. His storyboard showed nearly 700 shots for the entire film. Shooting them required immense patience," says Bharath.
Cinematographer Om used multiple cameras, lenses and equipment for each shot. Bharath elaborates, "When I looked at an object for a particular shot, I had to stand still. The laparoscopic lens attached to a camera would be away from my eyes. Each macro shot would be split into 20 smaller ones, each capturing my pupil, eyelashes, each eye, the eyes together, and then repeat the same with my ears. Other cameras would be simultaneously capturing the background both in and out of focus." All the while, Bharath had to stand extremely still because the slightest movement would disturb the focus of the lens, mandating them to start all over again.
Having co-actors in the shot meant extra caution to ensure synchronisation among them. This process also demanded Bharath express emotions multiple times. "I had to give the same reaction nearly five times because the cameras would be covering me from different angles, ranges, and distances. But these micro shots were vital to highlight the extrasensory perception of my character as he mentally interprets the situation."
Shooting indoor scenes with extra lighting equipment only made things difficult, resulting in longer hours of exposure to residual heat. "I had to prepare myself physically and mentally to tolerate the heat." Shots of sweat dripping slowly down his face had to be captured minutely too. "If a bead of sweat didn’t move as expected on my face, they would recreate it with water spray for continuity, and wait patiently for it to fall down and capture every moment in great detail."
The pandemic coupled with rainy weather also led to halts of outdoor shoots. One night shoot planned inside a dense forest was stopped for a few hours due to sudden rains. "Our first priority was to protect the equipment. The crew quickly covered the rigs and equipment with tarpaulin and made a makeshift tent with sticks for everyone to take shelter. Even when the rain stopped, we couldn't continue shooting because it was risky to connect wires in the watery surroundings."
Bharath adds, "So far Munnarivaan has been both a challenging and exciting experience, and I'm looking forward to a few more days of shoot before we wrap up shoot."