Location Diaries: Between stumps and a bad weather

This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and this week, Shanthnu Bhagyaraj talks about his experience shooting for Blue Star
Location Diaries: Between stumps and a bad weather

While shooting for the sports film Blue Star, directed by debutant S Jayakumar, actor Shanthnu Bhagyaraj travelled to Arakkonam where a part of the cricket matches was shot.

"Filming Blue Star was very special since it's my first sports film. In Arakkonam, director Jayakumar had chosen a particular ground where he had played cricket as a kid. The ground was huge and had its own personality. It was bordered by a giant tree on one side, a railway line with trains passing regularly on another and a road bordering one side. The unique look of the cricket ground added to the visual experience," says Shanthnu.

Shanthnu will be seen alongside Ashok Selvan and Prithvi, who play members of a rival cricket team. However, much like an actual game of cricket, the shoot was also interrupted by bad weather. "The 3-day shoot extended till 13 days due to an unexpected downpour. When the rains stopped after a few days, the ground was full of puddles and the skies were still cloudy with not enough sunlight. When the sun finally came out, we set out to shoot the rest of the scenes but the clouds quickly turned dark and spoiled the lighting."

Sometimes, the actors also had to time their cricket match to make sure the passing train stayed in the frame, which proved to be more difficult than they anticipated. "No matter how much we planned the train which was supposed to come wouldn't pass into the frame exactly in the time frame we wanted. So we had to begin bowling all over again till we captured the perfect sunlight, the train passing by, and the bowling all in the same shot," says Shanthnu

Finally, when everything fell into place and they managed to reach the crucial face-off scene between the rival teams at the centre of the pitch, something unforeseen happened again. "Assistants were placed to block road traffic during the shoot. Since the film has a period setting, we had to make sure that the latest model bikes and cars shouldn't enter the frame. As we readied for the crucial face-off, a big bus entered the road and right in the middle of our frame, it had a tyre breakdown. So, even though we had crossed all other obstacles, we still couldn't get that final shot. We stopped shooting and came back a few weeks later to complete it. The way that shot was delayed by nature and circumstances seemed strange at that time."

The actors had to play real matches, with a 3-camera set-up for the film. "Bluestar gave me my first experience of shooting with a sports choreographer. Dhruv had worked for the film 83 earlier. He planned in advance what kind of shots would be needed to be captured. As we played regular matches, he would coordinate shot angles between the 3 camera teams, running between us from one camera to another."

He further pointed out how exhausting it was to play continuously under the scorching sun. "We played a few overs for general footage, followed by another set of overs for close-ups and wides for dialogue-heavy scenes. The heat sucked our energy and we took respite under a tree, eating our meals there, since the temporary tents were a hothouse and the caravans were parked far away."

But the silver lining was the camaraderie amongst the 22 players. "It was tiring but a lot of fun. Staying and travelling together, playing cricket, and sharing meals and jokes, we forgot the fatigue. It actually felt like a fun taste of hostel life."

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