Rajasthan, with its elegant forts and golden sand dunes, has long since woven an alluring tapestry in the minds of voyagers. Several movies have been helmed in the backdrop of vibrant hues of ‘The land of kings’, including national-award winning Daya (1998) starring Manju Warrier in the lead role. Jayaraj’s Camel Safari is the latest in the lineup. Shot exclusively in Pushkar, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and other picturesque locales of the state, the film unravels the love story of a Malayali girl and a charming Rajaputra boy she courts. Newbies Arun Shankar (son of Shankar Mohan, who has acted in movies like Manju) and Pankaja play the lead roles.
The director who was last seen with Nayika, the life of a yesteryear heroine of Malayalam cinema, says the story idea of Camel Safari has been there in his mind for a while. “I have always fancied taking a film with ‘Pushkar Fair’, one of the world’s largest camel fairs, as a backdrop. Unlike the usual stories in which the hero woos the heroine and confronts many hardships later, this film is narrated in a untrodden way. The heroine, who is a management student in Mangalore, pays a 15-day visit to Rajasthan to attend a marriage function. There she collides with a desi boy, and soon she is seen headlong in love with him. What follows her there in the unknown land is the crux of the film which is an out-and-out entertainer,” says Jayaraj.
The film is also the story of celebrations of a group of like-minded friends. Da Thadiya fame Shekar Menon, Vishnu Mohan, Tini Tom, Hashim, Neha Ramesh and Jayraj’s wife Sabitha are the other actors of the film. Actor Kamal Gaur, who was last seen 17 years ago as the callous drug dealer swami in Johnnie Walker, and later in Highway and Janam, is also acting in the film as the hero’s elder brother. “This movie will also see him in a villainous avatar,” says Jayaraj.
About 99 per cent of the film was shot in Rajasthan. Recollecting the days of shooting, Jayaraj says, “Major sessions of the film were shot during the month of November. The climate was frosty and shooting in the desert during that season was a wonderful experience.” Thomas Thoppilkkudi is the scriptwriter. Kaithapram’s songs are tuned by his son Deepankuran. There are five songs in the film.
The film produced by Jayaraj and Rejimon Kappaparambil under the banner of New Generation Cinema is expected to release by mid-June.