Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shooting "KADAKSHAM"

The shooting of Sashi Paravur's Malayalam film KADAKSHAM started at Kuttikanam Ashley Bungalow on 26 Sept 2009. The film introducing new comer Shweta Vijay also stars Suresh Gopi, Shweta Menon, Jagathy, Indrans, Madhupal, Kottayam Nazeer, Anoop Chandran, aby Manasa etc. Also Producer A.V.Anoop ( Medimix) plays a pivotal role. Old friends Art Director Krishnan Kutty and Editor Venu along with Music Director M.Jayachandran and Pattanam Rasheed ( Make up) formed the main crew.

The weather was pretty bad as it was either raining in spells or misty and cold and confined us mainly to indoor shooting. We had a few days work at Koottikkal Bungalow at Koottikkal. It was there, on 30 th evening we heard the news about the boat tragedy at Thekkady.( see my earlier blog for more details)

We had also our share of near escapes - while going up hill at night from Mundakkayam to Peermedu after the shooting the brakes of our Scorpio failed and we somehow managed to stop the vehicle and got down. While on the way we passed a bus which also had brake failure and managed to stop by jamming against the rocky side wall. We used to drive in the road with heavy mist and never realized the depth of the valley down.

October 9, 2009: We were shooting at a place called Wembley named after some European planter.Some one told us about a very tall waterfall near by. So we went in our Scorpio through some very rough or no road to reach the falls. It wes quite interesting but reaching there with unit etc is difficult. While trying to reverse the vehicle it got bogged down in the mud and we had to summon help to get it back on road. Meanwhile we took an autorickshaw ride back to Wembley. The Scorpio once again had to be sent for repairs!

October 11, 2009: Learnt the news that FEFKA got approval from IFFEC. Sweets were distributed in a happy atmosphere. Hope peace will prevail in the film industry.

October 13, 2009: We were shooting at Vagamon grass hills.The weather played villain. Suddenly from bright sunshine it became misty and started raining heavily and we had to abandon shooting.

October 14, 2009: Today's shooting was at Mundakkayam. Again rain interrupted our work by 2 pm

The spell of rain continued for another day or two and we were confined to indoor work.

October 17, 2009; Diwali day! No celebrations , just a usual working day!

October 24, 2009; We finished the schedule's work by 5 pm at Mundakkayam.Immediately it started raining and seems like an auspicious sign!

Dogs Life - Saga of Survival

Next to my home is a vacant plot where previously a building existed. The buyers demolished it more than a year back and left it uncared. Meanwhile shrubs and weeds covered the whole place and it had become home for snakes, rats and other insects.

Some time in August 2009 I noticed a pair of dogs with eight puppies! Since the plot of land was securely protected by a compound wall and gate, obviously the mother had jumped the wall and had given birth there. The mother sometimes accompanied by the father will return regularly at feeding time to fill the stomachs of eight hungry puppies!

Puppies at feeding time

After sometime the visits of the mother dog became less frequent as she had run out of milk and during those rare visitsthe hungry puppies used to crowda round her competing to draw out whatever milk was available. For a few days I did not see the puppies and I was under the impression that they have left the place. But one day I found them foraging for some edible leaves and grass etc. Then I realized that they got trapped in that compound with no means of going out and with out any food. They had somehow survived eating God knows what! If left like that they were sure to die out of starvation.

At home I have a pet Labrador called Muthu who is fed and looked after like a family member. Hence,I took pity upon those poor things and threw in some bread slices. They ran away and hid themselves out of fear. Slowly, slowly, they came out and started eating whatever is being given.

Puppies in September

As I had to go for a month long outdoor shooting, the feeding of the puppies had been taken over by my wife who prepares some additional food for them. Also my brother-in-law's family living next door started providing them some food ! And when I returned back by the lsat week of October , I found them grown up.

In end of October

I do hope in a month or so they will be able to jump the wall and go to explore the world outside!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thekkady Boat Tragedy

We were shooting a song sequence for the Malayalam film KADAKSHAM at Kootikkal Bungalow near Mundakkayam and some one came with the news that a tourist boat had capsized at the lake in Thekkady. Only when I reached back at Peermedu and switched on the Television the cruel face of fate had emerged. It was a tragedy that could have been averted if simple norms of safety were observed by the authorities concerned. One look at the boat by even a casual observer will bring doubts about its stability. It had a narrow hull and the height of the boat is too high and the centre of gravity will change very fast if some one moves on the upper deck.

The next day morning we cancelled the shooting and our team consisting of Director Sashi Paravur, Actor Suresh Gopi, Editor Venu,Production Executive Sunil Pettah and Associate Director Satheesh went to Vandi Periyar to offer solace and whatever help to the victims families. It was a heart breaking sight of the dead bodies lined upon the floor of the Periyar hospital room. Even as we were standing there more bodies were being brought followed by the cries of their near and dear.

The scene at the Primary health centre where the post mortem were conducted was still worse. There were huge crowd of onlookers going here and there.It was total chaos everywhere, the officials and police did not know what to do in a calamity of this dimension. Minister Issac Thomas was seen running around trying to bring some order. There was some one announcing over a public address system calling for the Panchayat secretary to report immediately to the reception desk. I wonder doesn't he have a mobile phone or wasn't he aware of the tragedy. Meanwhile TV Channel people were after the kith and kin of the victims trying get some newsworthy visuals. A few of the unfortunate relatives were seen seated on benches on the verandah of the building. There was no one deputed to console or to care for them.

Some one broke the lock of a room, opened it and made arrangements to seat the relatives and offered them a little privacy. Later it was announced over the loudspeakers that arrangements are being made to issue all necessary certificates from a single desk. I was wondering what will happen to our official machinary if a still bigger disaster happens. Certainly the Government should give training to all officials, police, fire, ambulance services to co-ordinate and work together.Firstly they should cordon of specific areas to keep off unwanted onlookers and proper authority should take the overall in charge of the rescue operations. Unless some one takes the leadership chaos is bound to happen.

We then proceeded to the Thekkady boat landing and managed to get inside a forest dept boat going to the site of the tragedy. Even our boat was in a dilapilated condition and was overcrowded. I was afraid of one more boat tragedy. Fortunately some of the passengers down after much persuation and we started our journey. Even as we were proceeding towards the site a rescue boat carrying another body passed by. At last we reached the site of the accident.The boat had been pulled up and navy divers were searching for more bodies.

After returning from Thekkady for a long time the images of the human tragedy haunted our memories for a long time.

May Their Souls Rest in Peace.