Location Diaries: Into the wild
This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and this week, Ganesh Venkatraman talks about his experience shooting for The Door
While filming for director Jaidev's The Door, with co-star Bhavana, actor Ganesh Venkatraman had several unforgettable experiences. For one part of the shoot of the supernatural crime thriller, the unit travelled to the Nilgiris, filming in and around Kodaikanal. "We stayed in rented cottages which had the most scenic view. Every morning I would wake up to see deer, squirrels, ducks, wild birds and peacocks outside my window. However, the stone cottages didn't have heating and combatting the cold was a daily battle." says Ganesh.
Waking up at 3 am to reach the location atop a hill by 5 am was a tough task, due to the cold and fog. "After a point, we had to leave the car and walk uphill in time to catch the sunrise on the hilltop. For Jaidev, the thick fog was perfect to convey the eerie mood of the film. "He wanted the viewer to actually feel the cold when watching the film but it was tough to act normal in front of the camera while freezing to the bones."
Shooting for a vital pre-climax scene, the unit entered deep into a dense forest. "It was my first time in such a dense forest. We had a lengthy chase sequence in that place." A helicam got the aerial shot while a cameraman ran behind him at a distance of 10 feet, with a steady cam. The unit was stationed far away. Talking about the filming of the chase scene, Ganesh recalls, "As I started running, I could hardly see ahead due to the tall grass. When I entered a clearing, I was startled by a couple of wild boars running past me. It was my Kantara moment. My heart was in my mouth."
But his woes didn't end there. He had to do multiple retakes of the same chase again, for various shot cuts and camera angles. "I had to look afraid in the scene but thanks to the boar incident, I didn't even act to eat," he says.
The actor also spotted bison during the shoot in Kodai. "One time, while traversing a hilly road in cars, at a distance we spotted a few bison. Since we were already used to animal intervention by then, we calmly waited until the animals passed before we could drive away."
The rapport with his co-star and the unit brought welcome relief all through the shoot. "Whenever Bhavana and I had combination shots, during breaks, we would chat and prank our cameraman. The mood of the film is sombre, so we wanted to keep things light during breaks. I discovered she is a super fun person and also a foodie like me. We both exchanged suggestions on the best places to try local delicacies in Kodai."